Monday, October 11, 2010

Perfect Fall Bread

This month Canadian TV celebrates 10 years of Food TV. I think that's quite spectacular, considering less and less people are spending time in their kitchens these days. A short news article had a great explanation for this oddity, stating: ingrained in human nature is a need or instinct to gather around food and be with our circle of friends and, of course, family. Since this is happening less and less, we watch more and more Food TV, which tricks the psyche into having such a need fulfilled. Make sense? I think so. Huh.

My husband won't agree with me, but I don't consider myself to be a great cook. I just love to do it, and so I keep on trying. What makes me smile the most though, even more so than cooking a meal for others, is inspiring people to get their own aprons on and kitchens dirty. And to me there is nothing more down to earth than baking amazing bread, filling the house with that unmistakable aroma, and enjoying simplicity at it's finest.

Now don't get me wrong, I watch a ton of Food TV. Learning while watching TV seems more justifiable, right? Anyway, I've been super inspired to take common foods and adding my own twist. So here's a bread I came up with - I think it's perfect for Thanksgiving. The rustic texture plays well with tart Cranberries. And I adore the leaf design, too.

Rustic Rye, Caraway and Cranberry Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2 1/2 cups white bread flour
1 1/2 cups dark rye flour
2 tsp fine grain salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
12 fluid ounces warm water
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp caraway seeds
Dissolve yeast in the warm water, this takes about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flours with salt. Once the yeast is ready, add the water mixture to the bowl.
Using your hands, combine until it comes together in a ball, then turn out onto counter top and knead for about 10 minutes.
Fold in the cranberries and caraway seeds.
Shape into a ball and place back in the bowl, cover with a lint free dish towel and set in a warm place (24 C) for one hour.
After the first rise, divide the dough into two, and shape each into a ball. Cover with the dishtowel, and rest for 10 minutes.
Now gently shape each into a 20cm (8 inch) log, dust with flour, place on a cookie sheet (with parchment paper) or baking stone, cover with the dishtowel and rise again, for one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F (180 C).
To make the leaf design, use a sharp knife to gently cut one long slit down the center and about 5 on each side. Do this gently, without deflating the bread.
Bake in the preheat oven for about 35 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom of the bread.
If you want a crunchier crust, spray the inside of the oven 2 or 3 times with a water bottle just before placing the bread in it for baking.

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