Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The BBB Bake Sweet Potato Onion Bread - aka Elbow-Lick Sandwich Bread

"Stubborn, Kirk, stubborn..."  I have an old quote from the original Star Trek series going through my head.  (Bonus points if you know who said it.)  That was me for this recipe.  I just couldn't quite do it as written, not even for a first try.  Now the interesting name comes from a sinfully messy and equally amazing looking tomato sandwich that is meant to be made with this bread.  It has a roasted corn dressing that could compete with one of those old fast food commercials.  You know, the ones marketed specifically to males where the construction workers are waiting for all the burger sauce to slop down on the hot chick's décolletage?  Any guy will probably remember the franchise name.
I decided from the get go I was not going to use as much water as called for, and after seeing how sloppy the dough was after kneading for a good time on high, I added in another 50g of fresh ground sprouted kamut.  That tamed it down to just really sticky, but still starting to clean the sides of the bowl.  And the was before adding in the caramelized onions. I folded those in carefully and used the same method as I do for sourdough sandwich bread, which is a 3-4 hour proof with folds on the hours, though I did do the initial folding in of the onions at the specified 20 minute intervals.  Then shape and proof for another three hours.  I had meant to add to powdered vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to help with the rise, but I forgot and so didn't get as much oven spring as I had hoped.

I used a portion of first clear flour, it was my strongest flour on hand.  I only used two onions and caramelized them fairly dark golden.  I would not use any more than that, probably only 1½ next time, and get them nice and dark.  Delightful flavor.  I baked to internal temp of 210º and didn't even think of cutting until completely cooled.  The bread was dense and moist but not heavy.  Honestly, I originally thought I would not make it again, but then I tried it with Boursin.  Oh, yes.  That creamy, tangy, herbed cheese was the perfect complement to the toasted bread.  Much more so than butter.  And it made a delicious cucumber sandwich for breakfast.  So, yes, I might make it again, but I'd use butternut squash and less onions and reduce the hydration as I did this time.

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! These donuts make your kitchen smell so deliciously buttery and lightly spiced, a great holiday treat or any time of the year! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to blog from OUR kitchen (contact link at end of her post), along with a photo and your baking experience by Jan. 29th and be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month. New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Elbow Lick Sandwich Bread
based on the recipe for Sweet Potato Onion Bread in "Deep Run Roots" by Vivian Howard, reduced for 1 loaf

spoonful (10ml or so) active natural wheat starter at 100% hydration (OR 0.5gm (1/8 tsp) active dry yeast)
60gm (60ml) water, body temperature
60gm (118ml) 100% whole wheat flour (I used first clear flour)

Sweet Potato
1 five-inch-long orange sweet potato (about)

Caramelized Onions
375gm (2.5 large) onions, diced (I used 2)
7gm (1.5 tsp) sunflower oil
3gm Kosher salt (0.5 tsp table salt)

Final Dough
232gm (400ml) bread flour, OR 225gm unbleached all-purpose + 7gm vital wheat gluten (I used 100g first clear flour, 140g all purpose, and 50g fresh ground sprouted kamut)
5gm (10ml) wheat germ (oat bran)
200gm (200ml) water at body temperature, divided (hold back about 18gm for mixing in the salt) (I used 150ml + 18g)
All of the Starter from above
7gm (5 ml) honey
9gm Kosher salt (1.5 tsp table salt) + 18 gm (18ml) from above
120 ml (~100gm) roasted sweet potato puree
All of the caramelized onions from above

The Night Before Baking:

Put the starter (or active dry yeast, if you're using that) and water into a smallish bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon and stir the flour in well. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight.

Sweet potato: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the ends off of the sweet potato and place it whole on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tender and juices are starting to run out and caramelize. This should take about 45 minutes.  When the potatoes are done, their skins will separate slightly from the flesh and they should pierce easily with a knife or fork.  Peel off the skin, it should slide right off, and move the flesh into a bowl.  Mash well.  Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside in a cool place until the next morning.

Onions:  Heat oil for onions in a cast iron or heavy frying pan. Add the onions and salt and caramelize the onions over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown. This will take 30-40 minutes. Set aside in a cool place until the next morning. 

The Day of Baking:
When the starter is puffy, (a small forkful of the it will float in a small bowl of room temperature water when it is ready), you can go ahead and mix the dough.  If the starter does not float, stir in a little more whole wheat flour and water using even amounts by weight, and cover with a plate and leave for about 30 minutes more. Chances are that it will now float. (If you used active dry yeast for the starter, you can safely skip the floating test.)  Put the flour, wheat germ, all but 18ml water, starter, honey, and sweet potato puree into a large mixing bowl or stand mixer.  Mix these ingredients to make a rough dough.  Cover the bowl and let rest for about 40 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the salt into the final 18gm (18 ml) water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough and mix until salt water is incorporated.  Cover and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough to add in the onions: Put a quarter of onions on top of the dough and turn it by folding the dough into the center.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Repeat at 20 minute intervals until all the onions are in the dough.  The dough will feel progressively smoother after each fold.  Cover and leave on the counter (or in a cold oven with the light on for cold kitchens). Once all the onions are added, leave the dough for a couple of hours to allow to double.  A good way to tell if the dough is reading to shape is to run your index finger under water, then poke a hole in the center of the dough. If the hole disappears immediately, the dough still need to rise. If there is a slight whooshing sound and the hole remains in place, the dough has probably over-risen. If the hole very very gradually begins to close, the dough is ready to shape.

To use a brot-form: Put rice flour into a brotform and distribute it as evenly as possible.  A fine coating of water first with a mister or spray bottle will help achieve the perfect, even coating of rice flour.  If you don't have a brot-form, you can line a bowl, basket or sieve with parchment paper or use a liberally rice floured tea towel.  (Do shake the towel out well before laundering!)  If you do not have rice flour, you can use any other kind of flour, rice just works very well to release the risen dough compared to gluten-full wheat flour.

To shape the loaf: Scatter a dusting of wheat flour on the counter and gently out the dough onto it. Using wet hands, stretch the dough into a longish rectangle, then fold it like a letter, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there.  Continue folding until the dough is shaped in a ball, being careful not to tear the dough.  Cover with a clean tea towel and let the ball rest for about 20 minutes.

Without tearing the skin, tighten the ball further.  Place it seam side UP in the well floured (rice) brot-form.  Sprinkle some more wheat germ evenly over the top of the bread. Loosely wrap the shaped loaf with a clean tea towel and enclose the whole thing inside a plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on for 3 or 4 hours (until it has about doubled and there are bubbles).   The recipe originator shapes her bread into rounds with holes in the center:
Shape [the dough] into a round. Let [it] rest for 10 minutes. [...]Line [a baking sheet] with parchment and dust with flour. Stick your finger through the center of [the dough ball]. [...] Stretch it slightly to form a little hole. Transfer that dough round to the baking sheet and continue to carefully stretch the center into a 3-inch hole. Your bread round at this point will look like a giant flat doughnut." - Vivian Howard, Deep Run Roots, Chapter 14: Sweet Potato | Sweet Potato Onion Bread
To bake: To know when it's time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the bread with the plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on.  If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, for the round loaf, put combo cooker (or a cast-iron frying pan and stainless steel bowl) into the oven and preheat all to 400F.

When the oven is preheated about fifteen minutes later, put a square of parchment paper on the counter (the paper should be large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the frying pan). Overturn the shaped bread onto the parchment paper (the bran covered part will now be on the bottom). Using a lame (or scissors, or serrated knife), score the bread. Take the pan and bowl out of the oven (wear oven mitts!!) and place the frying pan on the stove (to prevent burning your countertop...). Transfer the bread to the middle of the frying pan and immediately put the lid of the combo-cooker (or stainless steel bowl) over the top like a hat. Put everything into the oven on the middle rack and immediately turn the oven down to 375F.  Bake for 40-50 minutes in all, removing the hat half-way through baking. Turn the oven down to 350F when you remove the hat. The bread is done when the crust is a deep golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  I baked on a baking stone at 415ºF for 15 minutes with steam and adding more steam every 5 minutes, then for 15 minutes at 390ºF for 15 minutes, then another 10 minutes or so at 375ºF until the center was 290ºF.  When the loaf tested done, I turned it upside down onto a bunched tea towel for 10-15 minutes to cool, then finished cooling right side up.

Cooling is imperative:  When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating; the bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400ºF for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly. 

Host kitchen notes:
:: brotform: If you do not have a brotform, you can use Jim Lahey's method for proofing the shaped loaf: he coats a parchment covered cookie sheet with bran, than shapes his loaf into a ball and places it seam side down onto the bran. He scatters a little more bran on top before covering the shaped loaf loosely with a clean tea towel. He lets it sit at room temperature that way until it has almost doubled in size. Or, you can use Vivian Howard's idea to place the bread on a flour covered parchment papered cookie sheet....
:: cooking container: If you're lucky enough to have Le Creuset or a cast-iron combo cooker, of course, you should use that. But if you don't, do use your cast-iron pan and cover the bread with an overturned stainless steel mixing bowl for the first half of baking. The dome creates a steam chamber that encourages oven spring.
:: oven temperature and baking times: Howard suggests preheating the oven to 450ºF and baking for a total of about 30 minutes at 450F.  Because of the presence of honey and sweet potato, and fear of scorching, the host kitchen lowered the oven temperature.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for one slice of bread (~70g):