Happy Accidents

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.

Printable Recipe

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62 thoughts on “Happy Accidents

  1. Great accident! I want to bite into that right now. Luckily, I have a loaf of bread baking right now. Yeah, I know it’s 12:30am right now.

  2. wow hannah, that bread looks really fabulous. I bought about 1 1/2 cups of chia seeds a while back, but still haven’t used it. Now I have a reason to bust it out! But, what on earth is “a cube of fresh yeast”? I’ve never heard of that.

  3. What a great success story! I love when experimentation leads to such great new recipes. This bread looks absolutely fabulous!

  4. That’s lovely! I tried to sprout Chia seeds awhile back without realizing that they gelled like flax. Imagine my surprise when after leaving them to soak overnight they were pretty much a cohesive mass. Wish I had this recipe that day. Now I can actually use the rest of the seeds sitting in my pantry!

  5. Wow….this looks and sounds fabulous! I’m not sure I can get past the silly sprouting head visions and goofy song, but I may have to suck it up and try…

  6. I’ve always been curious about Chia seeds but didn’t know what to use them for…now I do! Your breads always turn out spectacular so I can’t wait to try this one out. =)

  7. Happy accident, indeed! The loaf looks great (and very light!). Hae you tried flax seeds for this purpose? Boil 1/2 cup whole flax seeds in 3 cups water until gel-like, then strain out the seeds and use the gel. There’s your gooey liquid egg sub. :) (But they won’t be light and airy like eggs in angel food cake–you’ll need a lot of leavener for that effect!).

  8. I’ve used ground chia seeds as a binder with water, as you’d use ground flax seeds. That seemed to work just fine. They are crazy little devils, though.

  9. Looks divine! Looks like I need to hit up the natural food store for some chia! But what’s a cube of fresh yeast? Can you use the normal yeast you find in the grocery store in it’s place?

  10. I’d kill for accidents like these :) Lovely looking bread! I’ve never worked with fresh yeast so I was surprised that you didnt proof it separately. Great pic :)

  11. That does look wonderful. Bet it tastes even better. I really need to get over my fear of yeast and things going wrong. I love bread that are wheat-y and filled with all kinds of seeds and nuts!
    ~ingrid

  12. cha cha cha chia! I <3 there commecials, very catchy! I never thought of incoorporating this little seed into bread, but it sounds lovely! this would be great with a little apple butter or toasted and drizzled with adgave… ;)

  13. ahhh i’ve always loved sprinkling chia in my morning muesli – that famous water-retention quality is what makes them such a superfood, maintaining hydration (esp for working out / athletes)! what a creative idea to soak them for binding purposes! :) keep experimenting – can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  14. Oh, wow! I’ve never tried chia seeds and this bread sounds amazing… So when are you gonna start packaging up Hannah Bread and marketing it to Whole Foods stores so I can buy some? ;)

  15. Sounds so delicious. I love chia seeds and add them to my smoothies or make a pudding from them with sweetened raw nut/seed milk. Yum!

    Cheers,
    Kristen

  16. i was turned onto chia about three years ago and love it! i usually put a spoonful of it in my cereal or oatmeal. this bread looks fantastic–i’d love to try it!

  17. I think happy accidents are the best! I hate failures in the kitchen because I hate throwing things away! The bread looks so good!

  18. Oh my Lord, this was good. I made this last night, and my husband exclaimed “that’s good bread!”. I love the toothsome “crunch” that the chia seeds give to the bread. I think they help with the moisture content as well (this is a light, moist bread – not dense like many other homemade whole wheat breads). This is a KEEPER recipe! Thank you for sharing this.

  19. I love finding new bread recipes, and I love when accidents turn out for the best. I’m on break as of 3:30 today, so I can’t wait to get cooking and baking! Thanks Hannah!

  20. hooray for happy accidents! they’re one of my favorite parts of experimenting in the kitchen :) this bread certainly looks perfect, hannah. i can’t wait to give it a go! also, totally cute eel in your previous post.

  21. I love love the goo of chia seeds! Maybe I won’t like it so much in the summertime, but for now your *accident* looks like it will really hit the spot. I hope I get to try this recipe this weekend!

  22. that bread looks wonderfully chewy, which is one of my favorite characteristics of bread. There was this amazing loaf of whole-wheat, 291-grain, super-oat, miracle bread that I used to buy at the ithaca farmer’s market as a student that was so delicious I would eat it straight from the bag; no slicing, no spreads, absolutely nothing except pure carbohydrate heaven :) thanks for sharing this recipe, Hannah!

  23. I’m glad your mistake turned into something yummy. I have never tried chia seeds before, so I can’t imagine what the bread tastes like but I’m sure it’s great!

  24. Wow, what an accident! :D The loaf sounds divine, I wish I knew how chia seeds tasted. We can’t get them here in Germany.

  25. Looks delicious!! Chia seeds is another new one for me. I don’t remember ever hearing about these seed. But, if I can make a bread that looks like yours then bring on the Chia seeds lol

  26. I love the way that bread looks. & the smell of the fresh baked bread is the best!

    your outrageous pie looks gorgeous!

  27. Being an avid bread baker, and not having been able to bake some bread in a while, (My year old SD starter is fed but sadly sits unused) your bread makes me want to jump back in, even though I can’t stand and knead, which is the ONLY way in my opinion. I don’t care if have to sit, I have to try this delicious looking and healthy bread! Beautiful job as usual!

  28. The insides of your bread look absolutely amazing! I still haven’t tried chia seeds yet…

  29. I notice that you use wheat germ often in your breads. is it for taste reason or some other reason? I wonder… ;)

  30. Your recipe sounds great, but I only want to make one loaf to see if I really like it. Could you send me a one loaf version? thank you.

  31. Your recipe for Chi bread sounds and looks great, but I cannot find yeast cake at the stores I frequent. Can i use dry yeast, and if so, would the directions be different. thanks for your help – Joy

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