Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Bread

Ah yes, the Monday. The anarchist of the week, imploder of leisurely bliss and general harbringer of not-so-nice things. It's the day where bad phone calls are made and received, packages begin to get lost in the mail, fish at the market become slimy and unpalatable, and if you live in France, the markets are closed. Yup, that would be Monday.

But Mondays are also a time for beginnings - of the week, new jobs, Springtime and school vacations. Businesses open shop, and bakers pull out their mixing bowl and flour and make the week's first loaf of bread.

So Mondays are filled of both everything and nothing, good and bad. Like the bread that I made this Monday morning. A very (very!) good creation made out of the "bad eggs" of the kitchen. Not literal eggs, of course! I'm talking about the odds and ends every cook (good or bad!) seems to always have around the pantry, fridge and freezer. The brown-almost-black bananas, not quite fruit fly material but about two days away from the composter, the half cup of oats nobody wanted for breakfast, the last tiny scoop of buckwheat kernels lurking at the back of the shelves, and of course... the sourdough starter hanging out in the back of the fridge. All of these ingredients, plus a few for good measure, made their way into the loaf of bread my mom will take to work with her this week. As the self-appointed chief "Bread Maker for Mom" it's my duty to make sure that whatever I put into mom's breadbasket be healthy, filling, preferably sweet and definitely tasty! I set out with a plan in mind as I was driving home from an appointment this morning, and that's when Monday happened...

Since I was planning on also making bagels tomorrow I wanted to refresh my starter - it was due for a feeding anyways, but I wanted it in prime form with a couple good meals eaten before I got down to work. The original plan was to give it a good dose of rye for the tang and almost "cidery" flavour it would lend to the imaginary apple-spice dough, but when I opened the cupboard... no rye flour. HUH? How could I, queen of 10 000 flours, not have RYE in my pantry? Sigh. Okay, well, it still needed a meal. And I was not going out again. Well, what did I have? I needed something rich, earthy... aha! Buckwheat flour. Dark buckwheat flour to be specific. It would have to do. I fed both the "keeper" starter in my jar and the "toss-off" that I poured into a measuring cup for, well, bread I supposed. I let the mixture bubble on the counter and did a quick recipe card flip-through for a basic bread recipe. I knew from previous I had made that it was a pretty basic substitution going on - and besides, I'm a baker by feel! Give me a basic list of ingredients - for me it's just a plain old white sandwich loaf from my mom's files - and I'll run with it! A pinch of yeast (1/4 tsp) boosted my snoozing starter right back up to health, and I proceeded to mow the kitchen over for add-ins.

"Buckwheat... hmm, okay, like pancakes... hey, bananas! They're looking pretty grim... I'll use them! What else... well it's breakfasty now, so - oats! Yes, oats will do nicely, and there's honey behind them! Happy days! And we can't have oats, honey and bananas without cinnamon. Lets get that from the pantry... hey, ground flaxseed and skim milk powder! Cool, those are going in too. And I've been needing to use up that spelt flour... But it needs crunch. Nuts? Nah, too big. Aha! Kasha! That would be perfect... buckwheat on buckwheat! Eureka! IGOR, START THE MACHINE!!! I mean, umm, me... preheat the oven... yes."

Yup, I talk to myself in the kitchen, don't you? *Looks around nervously*. Okay then. Moving on!

So that's how this Monday Bread came about: all the unwanted odds and ends of kitchen life that would otherwise bog down and burden the space we call home got cobbled together into a sweet, decadent, chock-full-of-goodness dough. Good, happy ending, right? Well yes (eventually), but not yet. Like I would know, right? So I set it aside and went about my early afternoon, dreaming up a peanut butter and honey schmear-like filling for what promised to be an amazing loaf of bread. An hour and a half later I returned to beautifully risen dough that I then realized was... TOO STICKY TO ROLL OUT. Ix-nay on any filling plans. I pressed, pleaded and pouted with the dough but no way was it going to be anything more than a sticky, lumpy, bumpy log of dough. So I let it be. Mondays are Mondays, and bread will be bread, so into a (thankfully greased!) loaf pan it went and onto it's second rise. Given the pitiful amount of regular yeast in the dough and the less than active starter I used, I figured I had a good hour to wait so I hopped into the shower to rid myself of flour dustings and honey smears.

Apparently my house managed to sit at the perfect ambient temperature for bread dough of any kind - read: warm and humid! - for a good long time, and even though I was only gone 30 minutes when I came back to check the yeasty action it was ballooning over the top of the pan! Well, crap. I threw on the oven and anxiously paced the hall between the kitchen and my bedroom, waiting for the magical oven beep to signal I could stop the madness of my loaf. I couldn't get it in there fast enough! Then it was just a matter of waiting... and then NOT hearing the oven timer go off a half hour later! Luckily I had a sense of when the baking should have finished, so it was only there a minute or two longer, but really - how many things can go awry in one day? Even if it IS a Monday?

In the end, as you can see, this day full of "oopses" and "darn its!" turned into a perfectly decent result. It's not perfect, or pretty, but it's sumptuous, it's satisfying and it's a sweet way to begin your week. Happy Monday, everyone!

"Monday Bread"
Serves 16
1/2 cup whole wheat starter (fed or unfed)
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
1 tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup large flake oats
2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
3 tbsp skim milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted buckwheat kernels (kasha)
2 medium overripe bananas, mashed
  1. Combine the starter, buckwheat flour, water, yeast and honey in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, stirring well to make smooth. Set aside for 1 hour.
  2. In a bowl, combine flours, oats, flaxseed meal, skim milk powder, salt, cinnamon and buckwheat kernels, whisking well.
  3. Gradually stir 1/2 the flour mixture into the yeast / starter blend, then add the mashed bananas, beating in well.
  4. Beat in the last of the dry ingredients to form a sticky but complete dough. You probably won't be able to knead it, but mix it vigorously (a stand mixer with a dough hook DEFINITELY helps!) for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place into a greased bowl, lightly oil the top and cover. Let rise 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.
  6. Punch down and shape into a log. Place into a greased loaf pan and cover lightly, let rise another 30 minutes - 1 hour, until almost doubled.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Bake loaf for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 156.7
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.3 mg
Sodium: 32.5 mg
Total Carbs: 32.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.9 g
Protein: 5.5 g

Check out all the other amazing yeasty creations at YeastSpotting, hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast!

7 comments :

Maria said...

The bread looks great! Wish I could toast up a slice!

Bonita said...

That looks fabulous! I'm partial to baked goods with banana; I think I'll have to give this a try one day!

Crazy About Cakes said...

Wow! Looks delicious! I love home made bread, and don't make it often enough. You have inspired me! I love your blog.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

I really like your ode to Mondays, as well as the bread that came of this latest one. Nice!

Stefanie said...

What a nice story about mondays, and with a happy end, too. The bread looks delicious!

DaviMack said...

How can it not be perfect? It's bread, and it's tasty! Yay!

Dazy said...

I tried the sourdough bread with a seafood called cioppino, a tomato-based seafood. Wow it is a real gem! With a glass of white wine, this makes a great meal.