Proofed.

There was a time when I made bread often. My daughter was a mere tot, and I found myself spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Initially, I’d started with simple doughs, such as pizza or focaccia, then graduated to more dense, hearty sandwich breads and rolls. My trusted Kitchen Aid mixer would start to fatigue from several minutes of hard labor, however I enjoyed its convenience and reduction of hands-on time. At some point, I transitioned to kneading by hand, and developed a love for the tactile communion with flour, yeast and water . I had a physical sense of when the dough was properly kneaded. I’d become lost in the activity as the minutes sped past with little awareness other than what I was feeling beneath and between my fingers.
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The elements of bread making are finding their way back into my life, and not without coincidence. Most mornings, I spend time reflecting and meditating to gain a bit of ground before getting captured by the day’s activities. There is a book I refer to frequently, Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine, by Saki Santorelli. A passage I read recently spoke to the Author’s love of baking, and how baking can be both humbling and liberating. It made me think of the contrasting simplicity and attention that bread making requires. He likens the bakery to a crucible, “hot, containing, pressurized outwardly; hot, containing, pressurized inwardly”. A timely piece, as I find myself moving with elements that are somewhat beyond my control. Shortly thereafter, I was sifting through the NYT and discovered Martha Rose Schulman’s recipe for a yeasted loaf with apples.
You can find the link, here.
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread

Evolution: Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread

And so,I found myself with a yearning to make bread. The sweetness of whole grain loaf, heady, yeast-y and studded with apples was the catalyst, however I wanted to provide influence in my own creative way. I dreamt up crunchy bosc pears, contrasted with bitter walnut and sweet honey. I gave the dough plenty of time to develop flavor by starting with a pre-ferment, or sponge.
And I waited.
And I shaped.
And I coaxed.
And I waited a bit longer.
Until finally the dough emerged a golden crown of pure heaven.
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread
This bread is delicious simply toasted and spread with fresh cheese and honey. It can also pair nicely with prosciutto and fontina or gorgonzola.
Enjoy, and much love.
J
 
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread
Ingredients:
1 c rye four
1.5-2 c whole wheat flour
1.5 c white flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c honey
1 1/4 c warm water
1 packet (2.5 tsp) yeast
2 tbsp butter; room temp
1 c walnuts
1 1/4-1/2 c bosc pear, chopped
Method:
  1. Make a sponge: combine water, yeast honey and white flour in a large bowl. stir to combine, then cover with a damp towel and let rest for ~1 hour or so.
  2. Add rye flour, walnuts, butter, salt and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour to sponge; stir and/or knead down, adding additional flour as necessary until the mixture is no longer sticky. Turn onto a flat surface and knead for several minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  3. Set in an oiled bowl, cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about ~1-1.5 hours. I like to pop it in the oven with the pilot light; it sets a nice ambient temperature for coaxing the fermentation into gear.
  4. Deflate dough by punching down; fold in chopped pears. Knead into a round and then return to a neutral spot to rest again until doubled in size; ~2 hours.
  5. Deflate dough again and shape into a neat round and set on parchment or floured kitchen towel for another 1.5-2 hours until dough redoubles in size.
  6. As dough is entering the final rise, adjust oven rack and set a pizza stone or cast iron skillet in the center. Turn heat to 450 degrees and allow stone or skillet heat for ~40 minutes.
  7. Turn dough onto skillet/stone; slash decoratively, brush with milk and place in oven. Spritz oven with a bit of water to create a steam environment.
  8. In 15 minutes, spritz again and turn heat to 400 degrees.
  9. Bake for a further 25 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from oven and tap bottom of round; it’ll sound hollow if it is done.
  10. Wait (patiently!) for a good 30 minutes as dough cools on rack before slicing.
  11. Store, wrapped in cloth or a paper bag on counter for 1-2 days. To preserve some of the bread for later, simply bundle in layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Feed Your Brain…

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Hemp-Walnut Olive Oil Granola

 I am in need of some serious super foods right now. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve really run my reserves down. Studying, fun with family and friends, running (outdoors, ya’ll!). All the beautiful things I love to do. And so, I find myself in the kitchen yet again, digging through pantry and cooler, in search of something to make that’ll bathe those brain cells and keep me alert and focused.

I love the addition of olive oil to granola. Not only is it an incredible source of healthy unsaturated fats, it adds a flavor dimension that is unique from other granolas I’ve tried. The addition of hemp seeds provides not only essential fatty acids (omega-3’s and 6’s), it supplies trace minerals and is a good source of protein, one of the few vegetarian foods that supplies all 9 essential amino acids.

Ditto on the omega-3’s provided by the walnuts.

I don’t typically add fruit to my granola, rather I prefer to add fresh berries/peaches/etc. or frozen, if out of season. If you’re really into the dried fruit thing, I recommend adding it after the granola has finished baking, as the fruit tends to dry out and become excessively chewy. Figs might be a good option here, or mulberries.

Fold it onto yogurt, or add almond milk, or simply enjoy by the fistful. Yes, it’s that good.

Greek yogurt with granola and berries

Greek yogurt with granola and berries

Hemp-Walnut Olive Oil Granola

2 c oats

1 c hemp seed

1.5 c walnuts, chopped

1/3 c olive oil

1/3 c honey

2-3 tbsp sugar (I use raw, unprocessed)

freshly grated nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon

1.5 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts and seeds.
  3. To a small saucepan, add all liquid ingredients, sugar, salt and spices. Warm gently at low temp, until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  5. Toss dry mixture with wet and put in a shallow roasting pan or lined cookie sheet and bake for ~40 minutes. Give a toss every 15 minutes or so to encourage even browning.
  6. Let cool, then store in an air tight jar.

It should last for about a month, however I challenge you to let that happen.