Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Healthier Part

I promised you that I did add a piece of healthy to the fat-carb-sugar and general calorie-fest that was my mom's birthday. I mean, don't get me wrong - it was a birthday, and who wants to toe the diet line for your one day a year? Mom was off the hook for the excesses - well partially, really, since throughout the year there are over 20 different birthdays, a Christmas Eve bash, an Easter party, assorted Summer BBQs and what seems like neverending dinners out with my stepdad and his insurance company!! The business dinners aside, these are all as extravagant and nutrient-limited as the birthdays, so it's no wonder that most of the women in the family tend to bemoan their ever-tightening jeans. The men in the clan, though, are apparently given the gift of hummingbird metabolisms and can eat three helpings of everything including dessert and not gain an ounce! So yes, this crusty, giant boule of a bread was really more for the ladies.

I have to admit though that this hearty ball of sourdough almost didn't happen! I was all set to make a hearty, grainy, seedy bread with some purple potatoes mashed in, and had even taken out and fed my starter. Of course, though, as luck would have it, I went into our potato bin to grab those purpley-blue spuds and found... well, rather tarantula-armed, soft and shrivelled balls. Hm.

Okay, so time for a new plan. I didn't actually have any other potatoes in the house (which is an oddity unto itself), but I did have another kind of tuber which just so happened to be a favourite of mine: Jerusalem artichokes! Their starchy, sweet, nutty flavour would pair nicely with my mostly rye-fed starter, 12 grain flour and the extra seeds I was planning to add - probably better than any ol' potato would! So I forged ahead, peeling and boiling the golf-ball sized, ginger-like roots before mashing them to smooth oblivion with milk and butter and moving along with the recipe. I borrowed the Dutch-oven "cloche" method of baking too - not because the dough was particularly loose (it really isn't... I kneaded it partially by hand without issue) but because I wanted that all-around crisp, dark crunch when it was bitten into. For me, the ends of homemade loaves (especially free-form ones) were my sought after treats - I'd eat them plain, with butter, peanut butter, Nutella, you name it. I just loved that crustiness.

I have to say that the loaf exceeded my expectations in every sense. Not only was it perfectly crusty, but it was moist and tender inside, with a good tang and a finishing hint of sweetness. Not to mention that it really was the only virtuous thing on the buffet table (albeit next to a block of softened butter for smear-fests). This Spring when I pull up the 'chokes we planted last year, I just may have to do this again!! For now, I'm sending this off to Susan's event YeastSpotting on WildYeast.

Dutch Oven Sunchoke Sourdough
Inspired by the Jerusalem Sourdough on Sourdough Companion
Makes 1 large boule, 24 slices
3/4 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into large chunks
½ cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ cups flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 cup 12-grain flour
½ cup soy flour
½ cup psyllium husks
¼ cup whole flaxseeds
½ tbsp instant yeast
1 cup active sourdough starter
½ cup warm water
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. In a pot of boiling water, cook the Jerusalem artichokes until very soft (around 20-30 minutes). Drain well.
  2. Add milk, butter, salt and sugar and mash as smooth as possible. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl (or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook) whisk together flours, psyllium, flaxseeds and yeast.
  4. Stir in the mashed mixture, sourdough starter and warm water.
  5. Continue beating for 10-12 minutes, until fairly elastic.
  6. If kneading by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, add the pumpkin seeds and knead 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, add the seeds and continue mixing at medium speed for 6-7 minutes.
  7. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
  8. Knead dough briefly and shape into a rough ball (or oval if your Dutch oven is that shape), place on a sheet of parchment paper.
  9. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  10. 45 minutes to an hour before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450F and place a heavy (preferably enameled cast-iron) Dutch oven in the oven.
  11. Slash the risen loaf 3-4 times with a sharp knife, carefully remove the hot Dutch oven and using the parchment paper lift up the dough and gently drop it inside.
  12. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the lid, and continue baking 15 minutes.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for a minimum of one hour before cutting.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 134.0
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 3.0 mg
Sodium: 18.1 mg
Total Carbs: 22.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
Protein: 5.0 g


  1. Well done! I don't know about the Jerusalem Artichokes - I've never liked them - but it sounds like something I might try. :)

  2. This looks so good and delicious!! Cannot wait to try it!
    Your blog is wonderful!!


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