Category Archives: No-Knead Bread

Sage & Kalamata Olive Focaccia (with roasted grapes)

FocacciaIt all came about because of the grapes.  During my brief pit stop in Oklahoma recently, I strolled up to the grape vines we have growing along trellises in the middle of the garden to see how they were fairing.  When we first planted them, we encouraged them to grow up and over a large arbor made from old oil pipe and goat fencing.  The grapes refused to comply with our wishes – though a few adventurous vines reached the top, peeked over and realized they suffered from acrophobia.  So we pruned the plants back, built trellises and crossed our fingers.  Amazingly, the vines did much better with their new growing and clinging environment and we now had bunches of plump grapes to prove it.

I harvested a big batch of purple and green grapes and wondered what to do with them other than eat them straight up.  Then I remembered seeing a recipe for grape pie.  Well, grape pie wasn’t going to happen, but the idea inspired me to try roasting the grapes.  Roasting the grapes led to thinking about using them for a kind of bruschetta which in turn led to baking up a quick and easy foccacia with fresh sage and olives – both of which I thought would nicely complement the sweet, juicy grapes.  One note of caution: be sure to use seedless grapes.  I discovered this the hard way, after I’d already roasted the grapes and took my first bite.  Crunch.

Sage & Kalamata Olive Focaccia
Makes ~12 big chunks

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
~3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olive, sliced

fresh sage, chopped, for topping
1 tsp. kosher salt, for topping

Make the sponge:
In a large bowl, pour the water and stir in the yeast.  Let stand until bubbly and cloudy.  Stir in the flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.

Make the focaccia:
In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast and let sit until bubbly and cloudy.  Pour into the large bowl with the sponge and add the olive oil.  Stir in one cup of flour and then the sage, salt and sliced olives.  Add the remaining flour and mix well – make sure there are no dry, floury lumps.  The batter will be wet, sticky and heavy.  Do not add more flour – you are not going to be kneading this dough.

Lightly oil another large bowl and using a bowl scraper, pour the dough into the oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour or so.

Lightly oil an 11″ x 17″ baking sheet.  Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet and using oiled hands, press the dough to cover the pan.  Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then press the dough again – it tends to want to shrink and bounce back – until the pan is completely covered.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Position an oven rack to the center.

When dough has risen, gently press fingertips into dough to create indents.  Sprinkle the dough with the chopped sage and kosher salt, spritz lightly with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes.  Focaccia should be browned on the top and sound hollow when tapped.  Let cool slightly before cutting.  Serve with Sweet & Savory Roasted Grapes, if desired (see below for recipe).

Focaccia with Roasted GrapesSweet & Savory Roasted Grapes
Mix of purple or red and green (seedless…) grapes, about 4 cups
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt & ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix everything together on a big baking sheet and roast the grapes for 20-25 minutes or until soft, fragrant and juicy.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Grapes with Spoon

Roasted Grapes

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Cardamom-Coffee Braid (Or Rolls), No Kneading Needed

Braided Loaf

Braided LoafI know, I know – it seems like I’ve been on a bread kick lately.  Actually, I’m always on a bread kick.  There is no doubt that I am a serious carb junkie.  And this loaf…this is a good one.

It’s a much simplified version of a loaf I’ve made for years, from a cookbook I can hardly believe I own: Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson.  I bought it many years ago for its homey, comforting, slow food recipes, but there’s hardly a one I can make now without major modifications.  (It’s divided into sections with names like “Henhouse and Dairy,” “Barnyard and Smokehouse,” and “Deep Lakes and Swift Streams.”)  One of my favorite recipes was for Finnish Cardamom Coffee Bread.  It’s really delicious, but also loaded with eggs and honey and kneading it was a serious upper body workout.  And I only got one loaf out of the deal.

This recipe, on the other hand, doesn’t require that you train for two weeks prior to making it.  It has all of the flavors of the original – and of which I’m completely enamored: cardamom, coffee and maple.  And, you get two loaves out of it – or lots of rolls, if you prefer.  If you can braid or twirl or loop (and of course you can!), you can create some very impressive baked goods.  Store the dough in your refrigerator for up to five days – fresh bread for the week.  Super toasted for your breakfast or wonderful at sandwiching PB&J.

Cardamom-Coffee Braid
Makes 2 loaves (or a mess of rolls)

Bread Slices2 cups almond milk, plus more for brushing top of loaf
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
4 oz. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds, crushed with mortar and pestle (remove husks after crushing)
2 tbsp. freshly ground coffee
1/2 cup roasted, chopped pecans
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp. Demerara sugar, for sprinkling

In a large container with lid (or big glass bowl), mix together the almond milk, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, applesauce, yeast and salt.  Add flours and pecans and mix, making sure ingredients are combined thoroughly with no dry flour remaining.

Cover container with lid (or bowl with plastic wrap) and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.  Transfer to refrigerator overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Divide dough in half, returning one half to the refrigerator for later use.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and on a floured surface, gently roll pieces into 18″ long ropes.  Place the ropes side by side, about 2″ apart, on the prepared baking sheet.  Pinch on end together and tuck under.  Loosely braid dough and again, pinch the end and tuck under.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Brush top of loaf with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 30-45 minutes.  Transfer loaf to a cooling rack.

Rolls in a Bowl

As rolls.

Ground Coffee, Cardamom Pods

Ground coffee and crushed cardamom pods.

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