kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (spoons and bowls)
[personal profile] kitchenklutz
Adapting from The Best-Ever Book of Bread today, I decided to try out making a variation on a granary cob.

A "cob" is one of those lovely round loaves of bread you often see at professional bakeries, the kind that are less frequently sold at supermarkets because they won't fit quite as readily into premade plastic bags to be left on a shelf. I have fond memories of my parents buying fresh-baked cobs at the bakery near where I grew up, usually for use with an Italian deli picnic or as a tasty extra with spaghetti sauce.

I've only made a couple of recipes from this book before, mostly because of my hesitation to approach rising yeasty breads, but with my newfound confidence I've decided to take another look through it and see what catches my attention.

Today's experiment was an adaptation of the first page I dog-eared --

An Oat-Topped Granary Cob

Ingredients:

Dough
* 2 cups bread flour
* 2 cups whole-wheat flour
* 2 tsp salt
* 1 1/2 cups warm water, or milk and water mixed
* 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Topping
* 1 tablespoon water (original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, but as I was able to thoroughly brush the top of the loaf with water and have plenty left over I'm halving this to 1 tablespoon)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt (again, the original recipes suggests 1/2 teaspoon, but as the amount of water is being halved the salt should properly be halved as well)
* Quaker oats to sprinkle (original recipe suggests wheat flakes or cracked wheat, but really, you can sprinkle the top of the cob with any grain, spice, or additive you prefer -- poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, grated cheese, caraway seeds, cornmeal, and fresh chopped herbs are just a few possibilities. I went with oats because that's what I had on hand.)

Makes 1 round loaf.


Method:

1. Lightly flour a baking sheet. Sift the two flours and salt together in a large bowl, then make a well in the center. Place in an oven with a very low temperature (my oven's temperature had a minimum setting of 170 degrees F) for 5 minutes to warm.

2. While flour mixture is heating, mix the yeast with a little of the water or milk mixture and the brown sugar. Allow the yeast to bloom -- it should end up looking frothy -- and when the flour mixture comes out of the oven add the yeast mixture to the well in the center. Mix to a dough.

3. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a warm damp cloth, and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/4 hours (or until doubled in volume).

4. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back (punch down). Knead for 2-3 minutes, the roll into a somewhat flattened ball. Make sure the dough looks like a plump round cushion; otherwise it will become too flat during baking. Cover with an inverted bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for an additional 30 - 45 minutes.

5. Mix the water and salt, then brush over the bread. Sprinkle with oats (or with whatever topping additive you would prefer instead).

6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230 degrees C / 450 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C / 400 degrees F to bake for a further 20 minutes or until the loaf is firm to the touch. (The loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the base when baking is properly done.)

Cool on a wire rack.


I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this recipe was to make, and how readily adaptable it was. Moreover, the end result was impressively tasty and I certainly plan to make it in the future as a side to other dishes. The bread is soft and delicious, with a well-formed crisp crust.
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March 2015

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