December 26, 2016
I figured if I had ham and turkey left over from Christmas, I could enjoy sandwiches for a few days. But to do that, I had to have some sandwich bread.
So I made some, Christmas evening.
This is flax seed potato bread, from the Food 52 site (recipe here). I figure it’ll handle me for sandwiches for the rest of this week, and then I’ll be in Nashville being grandmother for a long weekend, and then I can make another loaf when I get home. So far, I haven’t made a sandwich with it, but it’s made some fine toast for breakfast the last two mornings.
As best I recall, I tried this bread back seven or eight years ago, when I first got started making bread. It was a dismal failure. This time, after considerable more experience with breadbaking, I managed to get it much closer to right.
At issue initially was the failure of the dough to clean the sides of the mixing bowl and come together into a cohesive ball. The first time, I kept adding flour, and adding flour, and eventually I think added a full cup of flour (an extra 2o to 25 percent!). The resulting loaf was positively leaden. I think I chunked it.
This time, I added a little bit of flour, to get it to at least the soft-sticky dough stage and past “batter.” But I let it go into the oiled bowl to rise still quite soft. And brother, rise it did — massively. After a couple of hours proofing, it was still quite soft, but had set up enough to work fairly easily; I kneaded it with a bit of flour and shaped it into a loaf.
It filled my 9 x 5 loaf pan, and I let it rise until it crowned more than the recommended inch — probably closer to two — above the sides. (But they’re LOW sides.) And then got a massive oven spring, and the result is a loaf that yields a big damn slice of bread.
And it’s a slice of bread that’ll stay with you. The potato gives it some heft, as well as some moisture and a lovely, soft texture. The flax seed — and I used flax seed meal, as that’s what my hand found first in the cabinet — lends a wonderful nutty taste. As noted above, I haven’t had a sandwich with it yet, but I think it’ll be primo with a couple of slices embracing two or three slices of ham, some Swiss cheese, and a nice schmear of Dijon mustard.
I sliced it up and packaged it, interleaved with waxed paper, in a gallon zip-loc that then went in the freezer. Slicing and then freezing fresh bread allows you to have the next best thing to baked-today bread, particularly if, like me, you’re going to either toast or otherwise heat your sandwich anyway. (As an aside, I do dearly love my Cuisinart steam-convection oven for toast and sandwich-making. I’m just sayin’.)
Anyway, a slice of this, spread with homemade ricotta cheese and topped with peach preserves that were in my gift box from Biscuit Love in Nashville, along with some bacon, makes a fine, fine breakfast. I can testify to this because I’ve had exactly that for the past two mornings.
So now that Christmas is over, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on and stop by, and we’ll have us a sandwich. Or two.