Victorian milk bread, with quinoa flour

The weather here in Boston has been slowly getting warmer.  Better temperatures for rising dough, but less ideal for turning on my oven.  On top of that, my weak/bad wrist is tempermental whenever I’m kneading.

I think this might be my last loaf for the season.  I might try some no-knead recipes, but the bulk of my bread experimentation will have to wait for the weather to get cold again.

I realize, too, that I’ve been promising one or two posts on breads with a pre-ferment, but I haven’t posted them at all due to… well, a lack of interest.  More pathetic is the fact that I had one completely written up and saved on my computer.  I am lame, lame, lame.  And it isn’t the fault of the bread recipe.  I’ve just realized that I don’t think I like the flavor of my breads with a pre-ferment.  The best of the pre-ferment experiments is the one that I had written up, so perhaps I’ll still post it.  But not today.

And I apologize for the lack of pictures.  I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.

* * *

So, I’ve had a box of quinoa flour sitting in my pantry for at least a couple of months.  I’ve never cooked/baked with it before – I was just curious.  (but I have cooked with quinoa itself, and I love it)

Searching for bread recipes that 1) weren’t gluten-free and 2) used the flour and not cooked quinoa proved to be a little tricky.

Eventually, I started searching for milk bread recipes since I had some whole milk to use up and came across a recipe for “Victorian Milk Bread” which I used and fiddled around with for my purposes.

Here’s what I used:

1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons SAF instant yeast
2 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten

General instructions:
Mix everything into a bowl.  Personally, I found I had to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to make the dough wet enough.  Then, knead for 10 minutes.  Put the dough in a bowl to rise, and cover with a bit of plastic wrap or a damp towel so that it doesn’t dry out.  Let rise for about 4 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a loaf.  Place the loaf in a standard bread pan and let it rise (again, loosely place some plastic wrap over it) until it’s above the rim of the pan, probably about an inch above.  Hmmm, I think it took about an hour or so for me to get there.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F and lower the oven rack to bottom third.

Bake 30-35 minutes.

Overall reaction?  Quinoa flour does not remind me of quinoa at all.  It’s less sweet.  I think the gluten was a good call, considering that I did not use bread flour at all.  It makes for a decent everyday bread.  I now know that I am not very enamored with quinoa flour but I don’t know how else to use it up.  Having said that, the results here were very acceptable.  I’ll see about using it for a no-knead dough.

Comments on the general recipe?  Easy, forgiving and easy to mess around with.  I think I’ll need to remake it but using my buckwheat flour next time around.

~ Mikan

quick notes: 1) bread flour has more protein than wheat flour or AP flour and quinoa is gluten-free, hence my addition of wheat gluten; 2) I did not want to make a gluten-free bread because you generally need a mixture of gluten-free flours which I do not have; 3) for my wheat and AP flours, I only use King Arthur.  Different brands make a huge difference.

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A white bread with mahleb

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I made another loaf of bread – a white bread from Beth Hensperger’s “Bread Made Easy” book. And it was the prettiest loaf I have ever made. I fiddled with Ms. Hensperger’s recipe a little by throwing in some mahleb. Mahleb is the pit of the sour cherry. Once crushed, it’s often thrown in to Greek breads (things I learn from our very own Asano-mama). Anyway, I finally bought a small jar of mahleb from Penzeys in December and decided “what the heck – let’s throw it in.” Now, I don’t know if mahleb is easily obtained at a store in ground form. Penzeys leaves their product in the pit form. After some googling, the recommendation is to crush only as necessary and to store the mahleb in the freezer, because, like nuts, it can go rancid. Mahleb is pretty easy to crush with a mortar and pestle, so it’s not particularly inconvenient.

It was a fun experiment. However, since I’ve never made this particular white bread before, I had nothing to compare my results with. This is a repeat occurrence in my life – experimenting without a controlled result.

Adapted from the milk bread master recipe in Bread Made Easy by Beth Hensperger.

one standard size bread loaf pan
3 to 3.5 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
1 Tbsp sugar (I always cook with cane sugar these days)
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk
1/8 cup boiling water
1 1/2 Tbsp of mild olive oil (this is the same as 4 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp crushed mahleb (if you can’t find it, skip it)
1 egg mixed with 1Tbsp milk for glaze (optional – I didn’t bother with it)

Start by mixing 2 cups of flour with the sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the milk, boiling water and the oil (this should not be above 125F – it should feel hot to the touch… then again if you’re me and you forgot to warm the milk before mixing all of the wet ingredients, do your best to warm the mixture as best as possible and don’t worry that you’ve ruined it).

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and start incorporating the wet ingredients. Once this is well mixed, add the remaining flour until it becomes a stiff, shaggy dough that is clearing the sides of the mixing bowl. Move the dough onto a clean counter, and knead for 5-8 minutes, adding flour only as needed to stop the dough from sticking to everything.

Let this rise until double in bulk in a greased container. If your kitchen is cold like mine is (hello! I live in New England and it’s winter here!), don’t worry if the dough takes more than 2 hours to rise. Yeast loves temperatures at around 80F – any hotter and you risk killing your yeast, but any colder and the yeast just takes longer to do its stuff.

Grease your bread loaf pan. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto the counter. The dough will softly deflate, don’t worry about punch your dough down. Cut the dough into half. With each half, roll the dough with your palms until you have a log about 10 inches long. Wrap the dough logs around each other for a twisted effect. Place this in your pan and left rise until double in bulk (the dough will probably rise to about an inch or so over the pan rim).

Bake at 375F for about 40 minutes. You want a nice brown color to the crust and it should sound hollow if you knock on it. Remove the loaf carefully from the bread pan when done, and let the loaf cool on a wire rack.

~ Mikan

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