Experimenting in the kitchen and writing recipes means a lot of failures, something that I’m very used to at this point. With no formal training, one could only expect to struggle when developing new dishes, learning first hand why certain things do and don’t work- And why others blow up like a mushroom cloud in the oven. Luckily, trial and error seems to have gotten me pretty far, and fewer of those mistakes end up being so dramatic or explosive. Sometimes, the wrong approach leads me somewhere entirely different than I had intended, but it actually turns out to be a greater success than one could have imagined.
Just the other day, it was a random trial of using chia seeds as a binder for an angel food-like cake that backfired for me. Knowing that the create a “goop” when immersed in water, I was hoping that perhaps the gel could be separated from the seeds, leaving a clear, thick liquid… And in case you’re thinking the same thing, forget it. Impossibly absorbent, those tiny seeds held onto every last drop of water with all their might, and no strainer could convince the two substances to part. Not wanting to waste this otherwise perfectly good binder, and with a packet of fresh yeast on hand waiting to be used, it was only a matter of minutes before I switched gears and pulled out the loaf pans.
And thus, this fantastic, golden loaf was born not of careful calculations, but of a happy accident. Soft but hearty, with a delightfully crisp but yielding crust, it’s absolutely wonderful sliced thick and toasted for breakfast. Use a spread if you must, but that powerful wheat flavor paired with a very satisfying chew was enough for me. Sliced thin, I’m certain it would be excellent as sandwich bread too… Although I think it may not ever make it to that stage in this household. Sometimes the best things are, so I want to remind all of you bakers and cooks out there not to give up when things go awry- Especially when all of us are pinching pennies Anything that can be salvaged should be, and you never know- It could end up being even better than you planned.
Hearty Chia Bread
3/4 Cup Warm Water
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups Bread Flour
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Toasted Wheat Germ
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 .6-Ounce Cake Fresh Yeast
1 Cup Apple Cider or Unfiltered Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Begin by combining the chia seeds and warm water, and allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes, giving the mixture a good sir after the first 5. The water should be entirely absorbed by the seeds before proceeding.
Meanwhile, combine both flours, oats, wheat germ, and salt in your mixing bowl and crumble in the fresh yeast. Stir to distribute all of the dry ingredients. Add the chia mixture in when ready and stir briefly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the apple cider, water, and oil. Pour this into the mixing bowl as well, and using the dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, slowly incorporate the wet into the dry. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, and make sure you’re not missing patches of unmixed flour on the bottom, too. After everything is incorporated, let the mixer work the dough for an additional 10 minutes.
Wait 15 minutes for the dough to relax again. Pour it out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it by hand for 10 minutes. Add in more flour if necessary, but don’t go crazy; it shouldn’t need too much. Place it in a grease bowl when done, cover with a tea towel, and let proof in a warm place for 1 – 2 hours, until doubled in volume.
Lightly grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans. Slide the whole mass out of the bowl and cut it into two equal pieces. Flatten each piece out into a rectangle, and then roll it up from the widest side to form a log about the length of your loaf pan. Place them seam-down into the pans, and let them proof for another 1 – 2 hours, until nearly doubled.
Once risen, bake the loaves in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown all over. Let the bread rest in the pans for 10 minutes, move them onto a wire rack, and then wait at least 30 minutes before slicing and enjoying.