Week Twenty-Four: Breads With Vegetables
Fair warning: if you don’t like parsnips, don’t make this bread. Why on earth you would shun a parsnip, though, is beyond me. I’ve most often compared them to “white carrots”, which is exactly what they taste like to me. A little subtle, a little sweet, but definitely flavorful.
Parsnips seem also to have a slightly more spicy characteristic than carrots do; mostly, it reminds me of cinnamon. This bread uses a heavy dose of nutmeg to play that side up a bit, while still keeping a decidedly savory quality.
You could just as easily throw some clove or cinnamon into this bread; but if you do, I suggest adding several tablespoons of honey. Those spices would suggest a sweetness in this application, and you would miss any lack of actual sweet flavor.
This bread bakes into a close-crumbed, easily-sliced bread that I imagine would be just perfect for sandwiches. It’s a little too, erm, je ne sais quois to serve in a basket with dinner. Full-flavored? Sweet? Sandwich-y? I’m not sure exactly why, but it just seems like a sandwich bread. The crust is certainly not crisp, but it’s not marshmallow-soft either. I think the parsnip flavor would go beautifully with any pork you like, from ham to prosciutto to bacon. Now there’s an idea – I bet this bread would make one heck of a BLT! Parsnip with nutmeg and smoky bacon, topped off with the crunch of lettuce and the glory of a fresh summer tomato? Save me a seat!
Parsnip Nutmeg Bread
Makes 1 loaf
22 ounces (about 5 cups) unbleached bread flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (115º to 120º F)
1/2 cup warm milk (115º to 120º F)
10 ounces cooked, mashed parsnips (a scant 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast and 12 ounces (about 2 2/3 cups) of the bread flour, reserving the remainder. Combine the warm water and milk, and add to the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl.
2. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together and all the flour is moistened, scraping the bowl if necessary, about 1 to 2 minutes. Without removing the hook or the bowl from the mixer, cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.
3. After the rest period (or autolyse), add the remaining ingredients and half of the remaining flour. Mix until well incorporated at low speed. Continue kneading the dough at medium-low speed for 7 to 8 minutes, then add the remaining flour by spoonfuls as needed to achieve the proper consistency. The dough should come together in a cohesive ball that should clear the sides of the bowl.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times, and form into a round ball with a skin stretched around the outside. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5. Uncover the bowl, and using a nonstick spatula, fold the dough over itself in a tri-fold, as though you were folding a letter. Re-cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
6. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper, or lightly oil the pan. Punch the dough down, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a round, with a skin stretching around the outside. Place on the prepared baking sheet, dust liberally with flour, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest until nearly doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400º F thirty minutes before baking.
7. Using a sharp serrated knife, quickly slash the bread a few times with decisive cuts, being careful not to press and deflate it. If the bread does deflate, cover again and let rise an additional 20 minutes. Spray or sprinkle the loaf with water, and transfer to the oven. Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes, opening the door to spray again with water every minute or two. Continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and baked through, and an instant-read thermometer registers 200° F when inserted into the center. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
1. To cook parsnips, peel and chop into large dice. You can either roast them, tossed with a little oil to prevent sticking, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or alternatively boil them for about 10 to 15 minutes. Either way, cook them until they are very soft, and can be mashed easily.
2. Please grate your own nutmeg. Pre-ground nutmeg tastes of nothing.