Monday, February 16, 2009

The Bread Baking Babes Turn One with Five Grains and Some Nuts...

It's an important day today in Babeland. We're one year old!!

Yup, we've been running around each others kitchens in our special Babe panties, our aprons, drink in one hand, flour wand in the other for a whole year.

When Tanna and Karen contacted me almost thirteen months ago about being part of a small group of dedicated bread bakers I couldn't contain my excitement. Not only did I get to bake an interesting and difficult bread every month but I got to do with eleven other women who I enjoyed kibitzing and bitching with. To learn a bit more about the birth of the The Bread Baking Babes and our Bread Baking Buddies (see a pattern?), go visit founding member and our Den Mother Tanna's post.

Tanna is also our host kitchen this month and she presented us with a fantastic choice for our anniversary bread, Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Nod (Five-Grain Bread with Walnuts) from the incomparable Carol Field's The Italian Baker.

BBB logo februari 2009

I had fun with this dough because not only did it use some flours I don't get to bake with very often, oat and brown rice flour, but it called for fresh yeast too! (and you know my recent love affair with fresh compressed yeast)

All that flour left Isabelle a bit messy and emptied one of my flour containers.


There was a lot of dough too. I got one regular sized loaf, two small loaves for my neighbors Erica and Chris, and one really big croc like loaf into which I slashed a traditional wheat stalk.


When I sliced into the regular sized loaf, I was pleased to see a nice crumb and chunks of walnuts.


And look at my long loaf!


Isn't that lovely? The office is going to be really happy tomorrow.

This was so good, it was hard to stop at two pieces smeared with my favorite American Spoon Foods preserves, Blueberry and Lime.


If you are interested in joining us this month as a buddy, bake the bread before February 26th and contact our host kitchen Tanna with a link to your post about the bread.

If you want to see how my fellow Babes did this month, go check out their blogs by following the links over on my sidebar. You'll notice that there are two additional blogs this month, Canela and Comino (Gretchen) and Living in the Kitchen with Puppies (Natashya).

When we started our group we wanted to be small and stay small, an even dozen of babes in the kitchen (enough of us to drink two bottles of wine at any sitting). Last year, we tragically lost Sher of What Did You Eat when she passed away unexpectedly leaving a huge hole in our hearts and at our kitchen table. Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food, who was her best friend, stepped back to refocus her cooking. We miss both of them terribly and they will both ALWAYS be Babes but we also missed having an even dozen girls fighting over the last drop of wine in the bottle. So, we invited both Gretchen and Natashya, two long time Buddies to be full fledged Babes, panties and all. We're looking forward to bakin' and bitchin' with them over the next year.

Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Nod
(Five~Grain Bread with Walnuts)
from The Italian Baker by Carol Field

Makes two 9 X 5-inch loaves (or more!)

1 1/4cups (300 grams) walnut pieces, toasted
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 small cakes (27 grams) fresh
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups water, room temperature
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) rye flour
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (125 grams) whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup (125 grams) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) salt

Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes in a 400° F oven; then chop in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or with a sharp knife to the size of a fat rice kernel. Do not grind them finely.

By Hand:
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Mix the walnuts, flours, and salt and stir 2 cups at a time into the dissolved yeast, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough should come together easily. Knead on a floured surface, sprinkling with additional all-purpose flour as needed, until firm, elastic, and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes.

By Stand Mixer:
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Stir in the flours, walnuts, and salt with the paddle. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes at medium speed until firm and elastic but still slightly sticky. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

By Processor:
Make sure your food processor can handle the volume of this dough. Even when done in 2 batches, there will be 4 cups flour to be processed. Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with the dough blade and process with several pulses to sift. With the machine running, pour the dissolved yeast and 3 cups cold water through the feed tube as quickly as the flours can absorb it; process until the dough gathers into a ball. Process 40 seconds longer to knead. Knead in the walnuts by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

All methods of dough making follow the remaining process:

First Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be moist, firm, and noticeably elastic, if slightly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into an oval loaf to fit a loaf pan. Place the loaves in the oiled pans (preferably glass), cover with a heavy towel, and let rise until truly doubled and fully above the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Baking: Heat oven to 400° F. Slash a pattern in the top of the loaves. One baker in Milan cuts the shape of a stalk of grain on the top; elsewhere bakers make 3 parallel slashes. Bake 40 to 45 minutes; bake the last 5 to 10 minutes out of the pans on a baking stone or baking sheet to brown the bottoms and sides. Cool completely on a rack.