Saturday, September 4, 2010

Carrot Bread

Another weekend, another opportunity to try an easy homemade bread recipe. These recipes are so unbelievably easy, I can't resist trying a new one each week. If I had more people to feed, I'd try two new recipes a week!

Although raisins aren't exactly the same as currants, you could substitute them in a pinch. The dusting of cumin seeds definitely makes this a savory bread, so leave them off if you don't like the smoky cumin flavor or want your bread more of the sweet variety. I can't enough of this savory, smoky bread, which I happily dunked into a bowl of butternut squash soup. It should make excellent toast alongside some eggs, or wonderful turkey or roast beef sandwiches. I look forward to exploring myriad possibilities for this delicious bread.

Carrot Bread
from My Bread by Jim Lahey

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
1.25 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
1.5 cups (350 grams) carrot juice
3/4 cup currants
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Additional flour for dusting

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast.. Add the carrot juice and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. If it's not really sticky to the touch, add another tablespoon or two of water. Add the currants and walnuts and mix until incorporated.Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

3. Place a tea towel on your work surface. Generously dust it with flour and sprinkle on the cumin seeds. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4.5- to 5.5-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution-the pot will be very hot). Cover the pot and bake for 25 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 20 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

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