Sunday, October 05, 2008

Carbs of the 70s

I've written about 70s vegetarian food before. (For the record, I wasn't there, but I've read the cookbooks.) I forgot to mention 70s bread in that entry -- the hearty, heavy whole grain loaves that can be either amazing or inedible. And while I rarely bake (changing a recipe has far more serious consequences for a cake than for a stir-fry) when I do, I make bread. It almost requires modifications (based on kitchen temperature, humidity, measurement techniques) so I feel far more comfortable throwing the recipe out the window :)

I got the recipe from my mom (in the spirit of full disclosure, the original actually came from a 1984 Good Housekeeping magazine, but we can pretend) and changed it to use ingredients that I had on hand. I may be the only person in America to have all these things in my kitchen, so here are some thoughts on substitutions. You're basically going for a dense-yet-tender bread with little bits of yumminess throughout.

Atta (can be found at Indian grocery stores): half whole-wheat flour, half white flour

Toasted flaxseed: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, finely chopped walnuts

Wheat germ: additional flaxseed (or substitute) or oats

Graham flour: whole wheat flour with a little brown sugar

Molasses: brown sugar mixed with water to a syrupy consistency

Here's my recipe. It's mostly for my own reference -- because I don't follow recipes well, sadly I don't write them well. But if you've got a fair amount of breadbaking experience (and the need to use up some atta, graham flour, wheat germ, and flaxseed) go for it.
3 water
1/3 cup molasses
6 T oil
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) yeast
1/2 cups toasted flaxseed
1 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup graham flour
3 1/2 cups atta
Mix water, molasses, and oil, and heat until hot but not boiling -- about 2 minutes in the microwave should do it. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, and slowly add liquids. Mix, adding flour as needed -- dough will be sticky. Knead 5 minutes until dough is elastic or until you get tired, then place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Rise one hour until doubled in size. Punch dough down, shape into 2 long loaves, place onto a greased cookie sheet, and rise again until doubled -- about 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Moisten top of loaves (I run my hands under water than rub them along the bread, but you can use a pastry brush or spray mister) and sprinkle with salt. Slash tops of loaves with a sharp knife or razor blade, and bake until loaf sounds hollow, about 35 minutes. (I turned the oven up to 400F for the last 5 minutes of baking for a crunchier crust.)
I got about 24 thick slices of bread -- it freezes very well, and is amazing when toasted. Great with soup!


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