Sunday, May 13, 2012

Notes on a weekend

No pictures today, just lots of words! Hope you can handle it!

This weekend I spent most of my time at Omache Farm doing some transplanting and weeding, and helping lay out drip tape and mulch paper. This seems to have been our first really hot weekend for the summer, with temperatures in the seventies yesterday and the eighties today. I was pretty stressed out about work by the end of last week and it was really great to have some work to keep me busy and great friends to hang out with to pass the weekend instead of focusing on what lies ahead of me this week. Just a hint, we are going to Prosser tomorrow where it is supposed to be 97 degrees. Ouch.

I made another great loaf of almond bread today, and this time I'm actually going to share my recipe. I think this may be one of those things I change up every time I make it, always adding a different twist. This time, for example, I used chia seeds in the almond spread but forgot to sprinkle cinnamon, so I got an added flavor and kind of missed out on one.

For the bread:
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 cup white bread flour
1/2 cup butter (although at this moment I've realized I only used about 1/4 of a cup this time around...might account for some of the dryness! oops! It's still tasty though!)
1/4 cup room-temperature milk
1 room-temperature egg

Start by mixing the yeast and water in a large bowl, then add the milk, egg, butter, and flour. Those of you with a stand mixer can use a bread hook to mix everything together until the dough cleans the side of the bowls. In my kitchen the best tools I have are my hands, and I knead the dough until everything is incorporated, and then a bit longer. I then pick up my dough and cloak it before setting it in a bowl and covering with plastic wrap. The dough then sits in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

For the almond filling:
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (this is something I didn't have the first time I made this bread, and let me tell you, it makes a world of difference!)
1 "chia egg" (1 teaspoon chia seed mixed with 3 teaspoons water and allowed to sit until gelled, about 5 minutes)

Pulse almonds, powdered sugar, and coconut oil in your food processor until almonds are ground to a desired size--bigger chunks don't bother me! Add the almond extract and chia egg and pulse until combined.  That's it--it's that simple!

When you're ready to start shaping the bread, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Remove your bread dough from the fridge and roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. The dough is a bit easier to work when it's had a few minutes to thaw, so my technique today was to roll out the basic shape, put together the almond filling, and then finish rolling the dough when it had warmed just a bit.

Spread the almond filling on the bread dough as evenly as you can. It may be a bit thick--just deal with it. At this point you may want to add a few other things, like some sprinkles of cinnamon or turbinado sugar (that one I did remember to do). Then roll the dough lengthwise (you end up with a long skinny roll), and use a serrated knife to cut it in half lengthwise. You'll now have two long sections that when split apart will reveal the filling. I then twist these sections together, trying to keep the filling edge pointed toward the center of my twist, though I don't think it'll make a huge difference for the finished product. A little bit of pinching at the top and bottom of the twist will help it hold together.

Then transfer your twist to a baking sheet, pop into that 350 degree oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes. I made a really skinny twist today, so it was definitely on the short end of baking times. After it cools the bread can be cut and slices packaged individually for freezing--this makes pulling one out for a workday snack really easy.

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