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spinach bread

March 20, 2011

So, this is a few days late for St. Patrick’s Day—but then again, I made it a couple weeks ago, so I think it works fine on days other than 3/17. Although I will say that I think this method worked better than the year I decided to make my entire dinner green with half a bottle of food coloring. Green-bread chicken is not quite as appetizing as this puppy was.

I have to say, I think my favorite thing about this recipe was the dough. It was so dreeeamyyyy to work with—pretty much the exact texture of Play-Doh. I had to try hard not to shape it into snowmen and snakes and keep it to loaf-shape (clearly, I was uber-talented and creative in middle school ceramics). And all that with only a tablespoon of oil! Maybe something about the spinach kept things un-sticky…

Anyway, that’s not to say that the bread itself wasn’t tasty. As always, it failed to puff up too much, which is more my problem than anything else’s, but I’m starting to like the denser results, anyway. This one was soft, chewy, pretty, and tasted faintly and uniquely of spinach. Assuming I remember it next year, it’ll definitely be on my St. Patty’s Day menu.

Spinach Bread
5 oz. spinach
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz.) unbleached flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water, room temperature
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1. Place cleaned spinach leaves and any water that clings to them in a nonreactive soup kettle. (If you’re using pre-washed bagged spinach, add 2 tablespoons water to the pot.) Cover and cook over medium-high heat until spinach wilts, 2-4 minutes. Cool spinach slightly and squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop very finely or puree in a food processor.
2. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add the water, then the spinach and oil. When dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. With floured (or lightly oiled) hands, shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to the bowl, rolling it to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Press to deflate, then let rest for 10 minutes.
4. Gently pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third of the dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creating surface tension on the outer edge. Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over. Press evenly with the palms of both hands and roll the dough backward and forward until it is 10 inches in length. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment [or well-greased waxed paper]. Place the loaf on the pan and lightly dust with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
5. Proof at room temperature for about 45 minutes, or until loaf has grown to about twice its original size.
6. About half an hour into the second rise, place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. (Or bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.)
7. Using a very sharp knife or serrated bread knife, cut 5 diagonal slashes, each about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, across the top of the loaf.
8. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a peel or the back of a sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the baking stone. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf reads around 200 degrees at the center, 30-40 minutes.
9. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

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