Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Parsnip and Caraway Bread

Parsnips seem to be the vegetable of the moment right now, which is good news as I love them. Earthy, but with a sweet, almost fruity flavour they make a great addition to many a savoury dish (and even a few sweet ones). With that in mind, I thought it'd be good to try them out in this interesting bread recipe. Now, I wouldn't say I'm the greatest bread baker in the world (although I do love the process), so please forgive me if I break with convention here and there. All I can say is what came out in the end was delicious. Soft in texture with a crisp dark crust, the flavour of the parsnips just sits nicely in the background without overpowering the lovely traditional bread flavour. The notes of caraway just give it an extra dimension, teasing the palate with nutty, aromatic undertones.

Prep Time: 4 Hours (Although most of that is spent boiling, proving and resting!)
Baking Time: 30-40 Mins
250g Peeled and Chopped Parsnips
325g Strong White Bread Flour (Plus extra for dusting)
1tsp Salt
1 7g Packet of Yeast
1tsp Sugar
1tsp Caraway Seeds (Plus a little sprinkle for the top of your loaf)
1tbsp Olive Oil (Plus a little extra for greasing)
200ml of the Parsnip Water

Right let's get cracking! Boil the parsnips until soft, then drain (retaining the boiling liquid) and set both aside for half an hour or so. In a large bowl grate in the cooked parsnips, then mix in the flour and salt with a big wooden spoon. Add in the yeast, sugar and caraway, give it another thorough mix, then pour in 200ml of the parsnip water and the oil. Mix it all around until a dough begins to form. If for whatever reason you think the mix is too dry or too wet you can add a little water or flour accordingly, but these measurements worked out fine for me. Dust a surface lightly with flour then tip out your dough and begin kneading it until it comes together completely. Be careful how much flour you use as too much will dry out the dough. You'll find after a few minutes kneading the dough will become less sticky and easier to work with and after around 7-10 minutes it'll be smooth and elastic. Lightly grease another large bowl with oil, put your dough in, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for around 2 hours (Until it's doubled in size).

Once the dough has risen tip it out onto another floured surface and deflate it with your fingertips. Shape it into a nice round ball and leave it on the floured surface, covered with the tea towel for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile you can preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and dust a large flat baking tray with flour.

VERY carefully transfer the risen loaf to the floured tray. Score the top a few times with a sharp knife, then give it a final light sprinkling of flour and caraway seeds on top. Place it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the loaf is brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. When you're happy it's cooked take it out and leave it to cool for a bit on a wire rack. One little tip (Which might be sacrilegious!), if you like your loaf soft instead of crusty, cover it with a damp tea towel whilst it's cooling. You can serve this warm or cold, either way it's grrrreat!

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