Sunday, December 11, 2005

Whole Wheat Quinoa Bagettes

Not only was this a healthy and delicious bread incorporating one of my favorite grains, quinoa, it gave me a chance to use an ingredient I haven't used before: vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is the protein found in wheat that has been (mostly) isolated from the wheat itself. It is useful, because it can be added to breads that contain low-gluten flours, like rye or whole wheat as opposed to all purpose or bread flours, to improve their rise and lighten the texture of the final loaf. These baguettes all rose beautifully, so I think it's safe to say that it worked.
The recipe is from another of Beth Hensperger's books, The Pleasures of Whole Grain Breads, which I've had for some time now without using. It has recipes using more unusual grains, like quinoa, millet and teff, and specialty flours, like chestnut, potato and chickpea. Every bread and muffin recipe sounds delicious, even though I will probably have to hunt down ingredients to try a few of them.
I did modify the recipe, of course. I didn't use an overnight rise and let the dough double for about 2 hours at room temperature. I also didn't process the quinoa until fine, as the recipe indicated. Not because I didn't try, mind you, but it simply wouldn't process in my Cuisinart. After about 2 mintues I gave up and just added them whole. I also added a bit of honey because I think that whole wheat breads are just perfect with a bit of honey.
The quinoa on the exterior turned crunchy, while the interior stayed moist. The effect was similar to adding oatmeal, except perhaps slightly more obvious, since quinoa is more resiliant than oats. The resulting bread was less heavy than an oatmeal bread and nicely light in tuxture, proably due to the wheat gluten. Next time, I think I will try baking this as a loaf instead of individual baguettes, because it would make fantastic sandwiches, particularly with peanut butter or egg salad.

Whole Wheat Quinoa Baguettes
(based on a Beth Hensperger recipe)
1 cup whole, uncooked quinoa
2 cups warm water (about 105F)
2 tsp active dry yeast (1 package, minus 1/4 tsp)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Rinse quinoa in a sieve with warm water.
In a large bowl, mix yeast and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in whole wheat flour and quinoa. Mix well. Add 1/2 cup bread flour, 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten, salt, honey and olive oil and mix until well combined. Add remaining bread flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead dough until elastic on a lightly floured surface, about 3 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 2-2 1/2 hours.
Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour. Turn dough out onto a lighlty floured surface and divide in three pieces. Working with each piece in turn, flatten gently and shape into a baguette, pinching the seams together well. Place baguette onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaing pieces of dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F.
Slash baguettes with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes, until baguettes are brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.