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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Braided Flaxseed Bread

I decided I would pop in a movie tonight and make some braided flaxseed whole wheat bread. Movie of choice: From Hell. The local rental house is going out of business and all DVD's are $4.00. It took me a while to get around to checking out the inventory so there wasn't much left. From Hell is a wicked little film staring Johnny Depp and examines a possible theory on who Jack the Ripper really was. The movie itself is based on Alan Moore's graphic novel by the same name. I couldn't think of a better way to get my hands dirty than to do it while watching a wonderful blood fest of murder and romance.

Most people might think that bread is an incredibly complicated and time consuming task. It really isn't. Most of the time it takes to make bread is waiting around while the dough rises. That's what the movie is for. There's absolutely no reason you have to stick around and wait for the dough to rise, you could step out and run some errands and come back and continue the process. It's really up to you! Control your time, don't let the bread control it on your behalf!

Any-who, this is a very healthy recipe that's easy to make and quite tasty. It's pretty basic and uses few ingredients and doesn't require any fancy kitchen gadgets. If you've never used flaxseed before, you'll either want to purchase flaxseed meal or grind down the seeds yourself using a coffee grinder/spice grinder.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups of warm water

2 Tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup

1 tablespoon of canola oil

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup flaxseed meal

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour for kneading

If you've never made bread before, it's quite easy and a very satisfying experience.

1. Dissolve your yeast in the warm water until the liquid becomes frosty looking. Letting it dissolve for about five minutes will do the trick.

2. Next, it's time to feed the yeast! Add the two tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of oil, salt, one cup of flaxseed meal and one cup of whole wheat flour. Mix this with a spoon or fork.

3. Once things are mixed well, add another cup of whole wheat flour and mix. Then add in your one cup of all-purpose flour. Mix till it all holds together. This should only take a couple minutes. It will be a bit sticky, but once you begin to add in one cup of all purpose flour (see step 4) for kneading it will all come together.

4. Here comes the fun part. It's time to get your hands dirty and knead the dough by hand on a floured countertop for about 10 - 15 minutes. This is where that cup of flour comes into play. Sprinkle it onto the dough and knead it in with your hands. If you find that the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour in.

5. Run a bit of oil around the mixing bowl to keep the dough from sticking and place your freshly kneaded dough inside and cover to let rise. You'll also want to add a tad bit of oil to the top of the dough.

6. Let the dough rise till it has about doubled in size. I generally let the bowl sit ontop of a warm radiator to help accelerate this process. I will take an hour or two to rise so take this time to clean up the dirty dishes, read a bit of a book, and relax a bit. Keep an eye on the dough and when it's doubled you're ready to rock!

7. Braiding the Dough is the next fun fun part of this whole charade. It's not necessary, but it gives a beautiful look to the final product.

While a three strand braid is certainly easy, a four strand braid is prettier and offers a more substantial final product!

Separate the dough into four equal balls and roll them out into long ropes. Lay these out on a lightly floured surface and smoosh one end of all four ropes together and place a weight on end to keep everything in place. Label each rope left-to-right 1-2-3-4. To braid simply cross 1 over 2 and three back over 1 and 2. Do this to the other side as well...4 over 3 then 2 over 3

and four. Each time you complete a braid, relable the end of each rope left to right 1-2-3-4 and repeat.

Once you get to the very end and there isn't anymore room to continue the braid, tuck the ends under the bread.

9. Place bread on top of a tin foil layed cookie sheet, cover and let rise until its doubled its size.

11. While waiting, preheat the oven to 350F. Once the dough has doubled, pop it in the oven and bake it for about 40 - 45 minutes. Once it's done, put it on your counter to cool for five to ten minutes.

12. Remove the bread from the cookie sheet and let cool on a cooling rack to room temperature. Letting it cool is key to getting a nice cut. If you cut it too soon it will simply flatten out.

13. Slice and OM NOM your freshly baked bread!

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