Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wattleseed and Chocolate Peasant Boule
My house is still filled with the warm scent of freshly baked bread from this morning. One of my kitchen goals has been to bake more bread at home. I already bake challah each Friday for Shabbat but I’ve wanted to branch out and try a variety of breads. Bread making is meditative and adds a distinct rhythm to the day. I like that.
I’ve also been itching to make something using the wattleseeds I brought home from our visit in Australia. I appreciated finding something uniquely native to Australia and when I first opened my little bag they gave off a heady aroma I immediately loved. The seeds are roasted and have a coffee – nutty – toasty flavor. Enticing thoughts of chocolate floated by, too.
The bread baking plan: pair wattleseeds and chocolate. Out came the yeast and flour and Abby Dodge’s recipe for Peasant Boule (this month’s #baketogether recipe). This bread is a lovely one to get creative with. It yields a crispy, chewy crust and tender crumb - I intend to make it again and again.
While the bread dough was rising, I lightly crushed two teaspoons of wattleseeds (which pop and crackle delightfully) with a mortar and pestle. Let me tell you, the scent of warm, yeasted dough and wattleseeds together is divine. I also finely chopped two teaspoons of dark chocolate and quickly mixed it in so as not to melt the chocolate slivers.
I chose to bake the loaf in a cast iron skillet. My cake pans are nine inches in size and the recipe calls for an eight inch pan, plus I am enjoying cooking with cast iron these days. Before baking, I brushed (lots of) melted butter on top for a deep golden brown color.
When the bread emerged from the oven I had to show enormous restraint while waiting for it to cool enough to slice. The craggy top was appealing in a homey, rustic way (I think boules are supposed to be smooth, though!) and pretty flecks of wattleseed and chocolate dotted it. I quickly gave in to temptation and sampled the warm crusty heel spread with (again lots of) butter. Little tastes of wattleseeds popped in each bite and the chocolate complimented it well. I can see my boys devouring thick slices topped with Nutella.
It’s always fun and inspiring to cook with a new ingredient. If you do not have access to wattleseeds, I think a nice substitute would be ground espresso beans and a dash of cinnamon. When the wattleseeds are gone I’ll definitely be pining for another visit to Australia.