I love bread: when I’m having a flare I come downstairs in my sweats and toast a few slices and return upstairs to a bad sitcom and a belly-friendly snack. When I’m feeling well I dip in all kids of fabulous fats: olive oil with oregano, thyme and rosemary or butter, or spread peanut butter (not the fake, sugary stuff - yuck) for a protein fix. But, I am very fearful of bread baking. It’s too finicky. It takes too long. It requires careful measuring. But between the holidays I had nothing but time and a willing husband to help me conquer this uncharted culinary behemoth: the yeast bread. I dug out an old vegetarian cookbook of my mother’s: a total hippie relic that – no joke – talked about smoking “grass” as a sort of after-dinner aperitif. Oh, and it mentioned some snacks if you get the munchies. I nearly wet my pants because I’m not sure if my mother even held a joint in her life. I’ve since learned The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas kicked-off the veggie movement and is the vegetarian's first tome of all things delicious. Oh.
Anna (we’re on a first-name basis now) has a recipe for onion and herb bread that my mom notated was very good, so I told Matt to get to work. He made the bread that night and while it was absolutely delicious, it didn’t rise enough and was unusually dense. No worries, he said: he was just going to tweak something and we’d be off and running tomorrow. “Tomorrow” happened to be Sunday and like a good little yuppie (or should I say hippie in this case?) couple we decided to make an afternoon out of bread-baking (in between the Eagles game, of course). And who ever said romance was dead?
This time we used bread flour and instead of simply adding the yeast to warm water and then adding a bit of sugar later, we added the sugar immediately so the yeast could feed. It was like our own mini science experiment, except instead of two scientists we were two doofuses amazed at the bubbling yeasty liquid. The bread calls for onion, rosemary and dill and the results are FABULOUS. Really; it’s some damn fine bread. And it’s super quick, so, yes, you’ll have time to watch your Sunday afternoon football game (unfortunately….).
Hippie Bread with Onions and Herbs
(Not that kind of “herb”)
Makes 2 loaves:
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbs. sugar
- 2 tsps. salt
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 packages yeast (or, 1 Tb.)
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 tsp. dried dill
- 3 tsps. crushed, dried rosemary
When the batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and place in the oven with the oven light on. Let the dough rise until triple in bulk--about 45 minutes. Stir down and beat vigorously for a few minutes (or knead with the dough hook in the mixer), then turn into a greased bread pan. Let stand an additional 15 minutes and then put into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for an hour.