Summer has arrived in full swing and the Bread Baking Babes prepare loafs of seasonal asparagus bread for their midsummer gathering at Lien's kitchen table. As I needed something to bring along to a bbq party with my co-workers I made a full batch and formed one big loaf. The bread received quite a number of favourable remarks. (We made some paella as a kinda group-building experience and I'm now officially known as "the guy who's good at chopping onions". :) ) I found the asparagus bits to be a bit bland compared to the bread dough. Next time I will be more generous with the salt while blanching. You should also put some flour on the underside of the loaf. My bread stuck to the countertop after the second rise and got a little out of shape.
I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.
Asparagus Bread with Parmesan Cheese and Walnuts
2 small loaves *
Source: Notitie van Lien; adapted from "Artisan Bread" by Jan Hedh
125 g green asparagus
25-30 g rocket
50 g walnuts,
50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese
450 g strong bread flour **
(you can also use half whole wheat and half white or white whole wheat if you can get that)
12 g fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
250-270 g water
25 g olive oil
10 g (sea) salt
* Formed one loaf.
** Used 370 g type 550 flour and 70 g spelt flour. (Just because I found myself staring at the bottom of a 2.5 kg bag of flour on a Friday evening.)
Boil 3/4 liter of water with a pinch of (sea) salt. Clean the asparagus, set two of them aside, cut the rest into 4 pieces. Boil these pieces for 2 minutes in the water, scoop them out (so you can use the water for the rocket as well) and rinse under cold water (to stop them cooking).
Put the rocket in the boiling water for a few seconds (until wilted), drain and rinse under cold water and drain again. Press the water our of the rocket, chop it coarsely and cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch (± 1 cm) long pieces, set aside. Crush the walnuts coarsely and grate the parmesan.
Measure the flour and yeast in a large bowl, mix in most of the water and knead for a few minutes (on low speed), add the olive oil and knead for 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until very elastic. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Work the asparagus pieces, rocket, walnuts and parmesan in with care so that they're evenly distributed. The dough should be very souple and elastic, hence the long kneading time. For me the best way to incorporate all the ingredients is to spread the dough out into a large slap, sprinkle all the ingredients on and roll it up. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, press flat and fold... rest 5-10 minutes press flat and fold. Shape into rounds.
Place the dough in a greased container, cover and let rise for about 2 hrs.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Make round balls, cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Flatten the balls and fold into taut breads with slightly tapering ends. Lay one asparagus in lengthwise in the middle of the bread and press in slightly. Sprinkle with wheat flour and cover to rise for 70 minutes or until doubled. Before baking you can sprinkle a little grated cheese on the bread if you like (optional).
Preheat the oven (preferably with stone) to 250°C. Place the loaves directly on the stone. Spray with water (or poor some hot water in a metal container on the bottom of the oven that you preheated to create steam) Lower the temperature after 5 minutes to 200°C. Open the door after another 10 minutes to let some air in. Repeat twice during baking. Bake for 40-45 minutes and cool on a wire rack.