Making bread never really interested me much. It seemed like it tied you at home in the kitchen, waiting for yeast to fart just so you could periodically punch it back down. My weekends are very precious and loosing hours that could better be spent outside in the woods, swimming, hanging out or even doing chores has never appealed to me, even though homemade bread is crazy delicious.
So needless to say, I was intrigued when I started hearing about dutch oven breads, which had as little as 15 minutes of prep time, can rise in the refrigerator for hours or days, so you can get to them when you get to them, and who only need about 40 mins in the oven.
|Mushrooms infuse the bread 3 ways:|
powdered mushrooms in the flour, mushroom
reconstitution liquid and mushrooms baked on top
This manner of bread-making produces a small, dense, oval loaf with a crispy crust that becomes more like a sourdough if you leave it for a longer period in the fridge.
These loaves are often baked simply, perhaps with some poppy seeds, or olive oil and fresh herbs, but I speculated there was no reason not to infuse the bread with other ingredients and flavors, and so I did. Having just come back from another foraging trip, our larder is rich with chanterelles, especially Cantharellus texensis.
|A pepper-tasting Texas red chanterelle|
Unlike the fruity classic golden chanterelle, C. cibarius, the Texas chanterelle is mostly peppery in taste, with the fruitiness fading into the background, and I felt like that flavor would work well in a savory, crusty loaf.
|The darker color and speckled texture looks like whole wheat, |
but actually the color comes from specs of ground-up mushrooms
No-kneed bread, infused with wild chanterelle mushrooms
- Begin by adding the 1/4 cup of chanterelles to the warm water. If you have any other mushrooms you would like to reconstituted for other dishes, add them as well. You are making a mushroom liquor to enhance the flavors.
- Process and pulse the 1 1/2 cups of chanterelles in the food processor until ground mostly into powder, but some very small bits are fine. You could probably also use a mortar and pestle. You will end up with only about a 1/4 cup of powder
- Once your 1/4 cup of chanterelle mushrooms have reconstituted, remove them from the liquid, squeezing them gently out into the water, and set aside. If you won't be baking your bread right away, put these in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- Microwave the water very briefly, 30-45 seconds, until it just feels warm to the touch. Think of warming milk for a baby. You want it just hotter than body temp, around 100-105 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and mushroom powder.
- Mix the yeast into the water and whisk until fully blended in.
- Gently mix the water/yeast mixture into the flour mixture, stirring as little as possible. Scrape the sides of the bowl into the main ball of dough. Use your hands, but lightly, to form a rough ball.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen bowel and set aside for at least 90 minutes. If you are preparing the dough ahead of time, you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- After 90 minutes, or longer in the fridge, your dough should have doubled in size. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and LIGHTLY sprinkle either flour and/or cornmeal over.
- Plop your dough in the center of the floured parchment and dab your hands with flour. Gently shape into a rough loaf, letting some of the flour rub off your hands onto the dough.
- Arrange your reconstituted chanterelles on the top of your loaf. You can do lines, a random design or I did a simple cross.
- Remove the dutch oven from your oven (using potholders). Pick up your loaf using the corners of your parchment, and place inside the dutch oven. Cover.
- Return to oven and bake for 35 minutes.
- After 35 minutes, remove from the oven and remove the lid of the dutch oven. Then return to the oven to brown for up to 10 minutes. I left it in for 7.
This bread is very umami, and lends itself to use with salty foods. It's amazing with strong-flavored cheeses in a grilled cheese, or with any deli meats for a sophisticated sandwich. Surprisingly we also found it to be decadent when paired with marscapone and jam for breakfast. I imagine it would also be a fantastic accompaniment to soup, though we ate it all before I could consider making a soup to go along!