This morning Piper and I enjoyed a bit of baking. Once the kitchen table was cleared and wiped down, I brought out all of our mixing bowls and ingredients to set up in our fresh work space. Even though I keep a lot of baking equipment tucked away in the lower shelves of our cabinets, I still love pulling out the old cumbersome ceramic bowls because once I do, I really begin to anticipate the joy that comes with using them to turn out something tasty and, moreover, memorable. I always try to involve Piper in the kitchen, and I think that together we especially take to baking. She helps me to measure, pour, stir, and taste. I delight in her independence and the knowing that this simple activity can help foster her confidence both now and in the future. After all, she can actually see and taste the fruit of her labor once we have finished.
Today I chose to have a go at a seeded rye bread recipe from Anna Jones’s new cookbook A Modern Way to Cook. We celebrated my 28th birthday on the 3rd of this month, and the cookbook is one of my lovely presents from Will. First, a dry mix of spelt, rye, and a touch of salt comes together. Meanwhile, a few tablespoonfuls of honey are drizzled into another bowl filled with some warm water and a packet of yeast. The wet ingredients are whisked together and left to bubble for a moment. Once the yeast is active, the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry and mixed with a fork until the dough just begins to come together. Now–my favorite part–it’s time to use our hands. The rest of the dough is brought together with our hands and then tipped onto a floured work surface, where it is then kneaded for 5 or so minutes. We had the radio going and Christmas music in the background, so the time seemed to pass quickly–at least for me. Piper did get bored sometime around then and decided to move on to another activity. Usually she loves kneading the dough with me, so much so that I realized I have to break off a bit of the dough for her to use on her own. Her usual M.O. is to pull bits of dough off of the main piece and proceed to squash said pieces flat all over the table. We baked gingerbread men recently and boy, did she particularly love that soft, crumbly dough! Anyway, once the dough had been kneaded we placed it back inside a lightly oiled bowl, which we then covered with plastic wrap and left in a warm place to rise (by half) for about an hour.
Once the dough is ready, it is time to incorporate a generous 50 grams of seeds. Jones recommends poppy and sunflower seeds, which is what we used here. Knead the dough again, incorporating your seeds as you go along. This takes a few minutes. Once this is done, lightly oil a baking sheet, place the dough on top and shape your loaf. Jones suggests forming it into a flat oval, though I think next time I’ll leave it a bit fuller all around. Top the dough with a tea towel and let rise by half again, which should take only about 30 minutes this time.
Slash your bread, sprinkle with a tablespoon of caraway seeds, and proceed to bake at 450(ish) degrees for 30-35 minutes. Jones suggests filling a deep baking tray halfway with hot water and placing it on the bottom rack of your oven to create steam, which in turn creates the right environment for great crust. To tell if the loaf is truly finished baking, turn it on its side and knock on the bottom — it should sound hollow. We left the bread to cool on a cutting board for a short while but temptation soon took over and we sliced into the loaf while still warm. I have a feeling this recipe will quickly become one of my favorites, as the depth of flavor of the bread is amazing. The seeds become all toasty and rich, while the rye has this robust flavor that gives the bread a savory quality. The honey balances out these flavors, adding a light touch of sweetness and balance to an otherwise dense loaf. Enjoy plain or buttered and with a glass of almond milk, as we did.
Hope you all are faring well this holiday season. Only a week left until Christmas Eve! I am grateful that I took some time for a bit of fun with Piper this morning. Baking our little brown loaf felt festive in its own right, because we did it together and relished every moment. Oh, and the holiday music helped, too 🙂 Have a great night!