Umami Bread

Umami Bread

I’ve been making a lot of rosemary bread, and variations thereof. Today, I felt like making a new combination, and I must say, it turned out very well: great crust, good crumb, and a wonderfully savory flavor that goes well with a soft or strong cheese.

Because I had lots to do, I used the no-time method; this does require a microwave. I love that I can produce tasty bread, with good crust and crumb, in about two hours. I used my favorite oval Le Creuset cast-iron casserole; you can also use a Dutch oven of appropriate size, or even a 2lb loaf tin if you wish. The key point is to have a pan you can preheat in the oven, with a lid.

Ingredients:

5g sugar
200g boiling water
150g cold water
4-5g (one tsp) dried yeast
150g levain at room temperature
250g unbleached bread flour
250g unbleached all-purpose flour
100g light rye flour
10g kosher salt
5g (2 tsp) umami seasoning
2g dried chives
2g dried coriander (leaves)
Extra flour for kneading

Method:

1.   In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the sugar and hot water until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cold water (so that the water ends up hand-hot), and add the yeast and the Leave in a warm place for five minutes to activate the yeast; it should be bubbling gently. Meanwhile, measure out the flours, salt, umami and herbs in a smaller bowl.

2.   Using a electric hand mixer, beat the liquids together until smooth. Dump in the dry ingredients, and beat until well combined. Use a stiff spatula or wooden spoon to blend wet and dry until you have a wet sticky dough. You may need a little more hot water to dampen all the flour.

3.   Cover with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with oil or Pam; press this onto the surface of the dough. Set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes to rest and develop, or autolyse.

4.   At the end of 20-30 minutes, the dough should be soft and a little puffy. Sprinkle flour on your counter, and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the flat surface. Knead for about five minutes until the dough is springy and not picking up more flour. You may need to use a dough scraper to keep the counter clean.

5.   Take a clean non-metal mixing bowl, spray with Pam or oil, and drop in the dough. Cover with the same piece of oiled plastic wrap, pressed onto the top of the dough.

6.   Heat your oven to 450°F/230°C. Put the Le Creuset or Dutch oven (and lid) in the oven to heat as well. If you have a baking stone, place it on the lower shelf.

7.   Place the mixing bowl with the dough in the microwave, and heat for 25 seconds. Wait five minutes, and give it another burst of 25 seconds. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 15 minutes. The dough should be warm, soft, puffy, and doubled in size.

8.   When the oven is hot, take the Le Creuset out of the oven, and carefully pour the dough into the pot. Slash the top of the loaf, cover the pan, and place it on the baking stone (or in the middle of the oven, if you don’t have a baking stone).

9.   Bake for 25 minutes, then take off the lid. Bake for another ten minutes. Take out the loaf, unmold it, and tap the bottom; if you get a hollow percussive sound, the bread is ready. If not, put it back in the oven for another five minutes. You can put it directly on the stone or the rack in the oven; you don’t have to put it back in the Le Creuset.

10.   When ready, pull out the loaf and place it on a cooling rack. The bread will cut more cleanly if you let it cool completely before serving.

I like to eat this bread warm, with a smear of vegan cream cheese; it is also delicious toasted with unsalted butter. Store in a paper bag at room temperature, or wrap it well and freeze.

Here’s a recipe as a printable file:  Umami Bread.

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