June 20, 2009

Babes Bodacious Asparagus Bread

The Bread Baking Babes have a real winner this time with a delicious, seasonal and unusual Asparagus Bread, chosen by Lien who blogs at Nottie Van Lien's. The recipe is found HERE and I'm making it as a Bread Baking Buddy type person.

There is plenty of green in this bread from the asparagus and from arugula (although I substituted Swiss chard because my garden is producing so much of it I have to use it where ever I can!) but what ties the flavors together is the walnuts. It makes two smallish loaves of a very moist and tender, flavorful and pretty bread.
While it was still a little warm from the oven I cut a slice and gave it to Sweetie. He made appreciative noises, so I asked for a bite. After I took the bite I started to move away from Sweetie and he reminded me that he was only giving me a bite...he really wanted to finish that slice...and about half the loaf with dinner!

One of the things I missed during my travels in May was making bread. Since I've been back it's been hard to find the time, so it was a real pleasure to have my hands in yeast dough again. Don't expect that all of the non-dough ingredients will be totally encased in the dough once it has baked. Having the odd little bit of asparagus or chard peeking out is part of the pleasure for me.

Do give this recipe a try. If you have a stand mixer to do the kneading, it is a simple recipe. The veggies are basically blanched, drained, and chopped. The rest is pretty fun and the results are spectacular!

This is my entry for this week in Susan's event Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast. If you check out last week's entries you will see at least one loaf of this outstanding seasonal bread. You can also visit all of the Babes's sites using the links on Lein's blog.

Want to be a Buddy, too? Lein tells you how and you still have time...the deadline is June 26th!

On the home front, please keep our dear Bakers Dog Xam in your thoughts. He had surgery on Monday for a glandular infection, but will be seeing the vet on Thursday to see if there are other things wrong. Took him on his first walk this week today and he seemed fine if a bit slower than usual. Fingers and toes crossed that the surgery took care of it all.

June 07, 2009

Bacon Makes This Bread Special

Have had very social times since returning from the Emerald Isle. Needed to bring something to a pot luck and also an appetizer to a dinner. This easy recipe filled the bill for both. The dough goes together easily in a bread machine, but you can make it with a stand mixer and dough hook, or stir it together and knead by hand, too. The olive oil adds flavor and suppleness to the dough so it’s easy to work with. Be patient in spreading the dough into the pan. If it resists, let it sit a minute then try again.

Bacon seems to be a hit with most people. Use good quality bacon since there really isn’t a lot of it here. Cook enough to crisp up the fatty parts and don’t be surprised that there will be a lot of fat left in the pan when you drain the cooked bacon bits. They don’t really stay on the bread very well, but you can boost any that fall on the cutting board back onto the cut pieces.

Since I came home to a LOT of Swiss chard and a fair amount of small zucchini, I used some of those in the topping. You could use spinach or arugula instead of the chard and skip the squash, too. If you don’t have small squash, do skip using squash.larger ones have too much water for this recipe. Sauteed onions would be another great topping.

Bacon and Chard Focaccia

1 Recipe Basic Focaccia
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/3 inch lardons
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 large Swiss chard leaves, washed, dried, and cut in chiffonade (rolled up and thinly sliced)
1 very small zucchini, cut in coins
salt and pepper to taste (I used garlic salt and some pepper)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Follow the directions below for the basic focaccia. Use the larger pan if you like your focaccia less bready.

Drizzle with the 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil. (I then spread a thin coat over the whole thing with a pastry brush.

Cook the bacon pieces over high heat until crisp but not burnt. Remove from fat with slotted spoon then drain on paper towel. Sprinkle focaccia with the bacon, Swiss chard, and zucchini, distributing each ingredient as evenly as possible over the pan of dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over all. Place plastic wrap loosly over the top and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Remove plastic wrap and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Can be served warm or cool. Cut into small squares for appetizers, larger pieces to go with a meal.

Basic Focaccia

King Arthur Flour website

Large or Small* Machine

1 cup water, warm
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose OR Unbleached Special Bread Flour
2 teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons italian seasoning, heaping
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine. Program for Dough or Manual, and press Start.

*If you're using a small (1-pound) bread machine, remove the dough from the machine at the end of the second kneading cycle, and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

At the end of the cycle, remove the dough from the machine and punch it down. Roll it out to form a rectangle, and transfer it to a cookie sheet, 10 x 15-inch to 12 x 18-inch. Pat the dough into the pan. Make indentations in the dough with your fingertips, about an inch apart, and drizzle sparingly with olive oil.

Let the focaccia rise for half an hour to an hour. This will make a lighter bread. Bake the focaccia in the preheated 450°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and serve. Serves 6 to 10.

Yeastspotting, that wonderful, mouthwatering, inspiring weekly event at Susan's Wild Yeast blog has turned a year old! Happy Birthday!! Sorry I missed the anniversary last week, but this entry will have to do since I wasn't around to bake bread last time. If you love yeast, or just want to enjoy looking at fantastic recipes made with yeast, hurry on over to http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting !