It was 35 years ago on Easter Sunday that I first attempted to bake something that involved bringing yeast to life. For the 35 years since then, I’ve lived in fear of recipes that required yeast. I remember that first encounter with yeast clearly because I was a senior at Kansas State University, my family was coming to Manhattan for Easter Sunday, and I wanted to impress them with a homemade pastry for brunch.
As a cook, I have to confess that I tend to be impatient, impetuous and a tad lazy. Those are not qualities that serve you well if you aspire to master pastry and bread. Early that Easter morning 35 years ago, I cavalierly and callously mixed the yeast with hot water, thinking to myself what’s the big deal? Later, when I pulled my braided cherry pastry from the oven, it looked actually looked quite lovely and artful. But when I sliced it, it had the consistency of a rock. What’s the big deal? Murdered yeast. That’s what.
So, yes, on that springy Easter Sunday, I was duly traumatized and rarely have attempted mixing yeast and water since. I’m chagrined to say that my son had to learn the art of bread baking from my mother-in-law, rather than from me. I may have taught him how to make cheesecake, chocolate trifle, and other various family recipes, but his skills as a bread baker are from his paternal grandma.
That said, proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks–in the last couple of months I’ve overcome my fears and learned to make bread! I was poking around Pinterest one day and came across a pin to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ lovely web site on baking bread in a crock pot. Their technique is perfect for slothful and impetuous aspiring bakers like me because there’s no kneading involved, and the dough rises right in the crock pot. Ingenious!
My first attempt at crock pot bread was a recipe for cheesy dill bread that turned out moist and dense. It required about an hour and a half to bake and looked best after a few minutes under the broiler, as Jeff and Zoe suggest. It was good, but didn’t quite give me the foodie endorphin rush I’m always seeking.
For my next challenge, I wanted to find a recipe that included flaxseed. I don’t know exactly why, but I love those shiny little brown seeds. They provide a crunchy texture, add visual interest and contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and fiber. I found plenty of recipes that called for flaxseed meal, but none that used the whole seed. So, I decided to be brave and do some experimenting. I’m proud to announce the arrival of a lovely loaf of whole wheat flaxseed crock pot bread!
1 1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup flaxseed
1 package yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
Dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup of warm water. Add ½ teaspoon sugar and let the yeast get foamy. Mix all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Turn the dough onto parchment paper and shape it into a round loaf. Place the dough (on the paper) in a crock pot and bake on high. Cooking time can vary depending on the crock pot. Mine required an hour and a half. If your bread looks a little anemic and you like a crunchy crust, brown the loaf under the broiler.
© Sherry Burns and sushipoet.wordpress.com 2013