Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Honey Wheat Bread with Poppy Seeds and Lemon

This is a good bread.  It is not quite as good as the toasted sesame and raisin bread (which I am still thinking about....a lot), but I repeat: It is a good bread.

When I first saw the formula for this bread I got really excited. I am a fan of poppy seeds, especially when they are combined with lemon.  I grew up with my mother making a fantastic lemon poppy seed cake with lemon icing that is is just out of this world. I thought the idea of a whole wheat bread with lemon zest and poppy seed within the crumb was a great idea. I guess I was expecting the bread to be lighter, but that is probably because I can't help comparing it to my mothers cake, which I really love.

This bread has a poolish. For some reason, D. Leader likes to add whole wheat flour to his preferment. I have mixed feelings about this. In one of my upcoming breads, I am going to try something a bit different. (I am thinking about taking the whole wheat flour out of the poolish, and replacing it with 20% bran flour.  Then I will add the wholewheat flour back into the final dough.) I will let you know when I do this. 

I once created a whole wheat Pecan bread with a whole wheat poolish, with wonderful results. That was some time ago, when I was an amateur  baker. I do like hearty wheat breads, but at the same time I think this bread would have been better had I used less wheat flour and more 20% bran flour. Put it this way:  if the formula called for only 20% bran flour, it would still be 25% wheat flour which is pretty standard.  I have never made the formulas from this book so I am hesitant to make changes to them.  I feel that I should bake them as instructed;  make notes;  and then experiment the second time around.  I am always trying to make a better loaf and if I think that I can improve on a recipe, I am always up to the challenge of tweaking recipes to improve a loaf of bread. 

Now back to the recipe at hand.  Instead of extending the mix time in the bowl with this bread I chose to apply additional folds to help to create dough strength.  I folded once after an hour, and then once more after 30 minutes. This helped to create a stronger dough. The poppy seeds were added in the beginning of the mix.  I think that this may have reduced the ability to form a strong gluten matrix, but the extra folds helped to compensate for this. 

Leader recommends eating this bread either toasted or with a very sharp cheese. I have been doing both of these by making grilled cheese with very sharp orange cheddar. I have come to love cheddar through baking bread.  I the past, I could not handle the sharpness, but I have reversed my thinking on this. Sharp cheddar is great, especially with a great bread. This bread would also go remarkably well with some chèvre. I love grilled cheese made out of goat cheese.  It gets so tangy and the way it melts.... it's just perfect. 

Two of the things that I love about these recipes are the low level of yeast and the use of a considerable amount of salt.  This is excellent if you have the time to create a slow and flavorful bread.  It makes it more difficult if you do not have the time.  I have always been a fan of slow cooking.  To prove my point, when I sweat onions I cover them and cook them very slowly.  I actually cook them for close to 6 hours. The flavor can not be compared to anything that I have ever had.  Instead of cooking a sauce for 4 hours, it takes ten hours, but it makes such a difference.  I strongly recommend this. It is wonderful, Just take some of those onions and spread them on a piece of toast with a small pinch of coarse salt or sea salt.......delicious.

For lunch yesterday I had a grilled cheese made with this bread and I had it with my Northern African Lentil Soup made with Crimson Lentils, Cumin, Apricots and roasted onions. What a meal!

Try New Things and keep on reading.
There are more breads on the way.
Well, I am out of rye berries and it's time to make a "grain run".
Bake on

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