Saturday, 16 May 2009

spicy coffee cake

Before going to bed on Friday night, I usually set up some bread dough, usually green tea twirly buns of some sort. That way, I can have warm bread for breakfast on Saturday. Then, one Friday, tragedy struck when I found myself without matcha (which takes some planning to come by in Scotland). I did, however, have a whack of bananas that were past their prime. This bread has quite a kick and tastes like strong, sweet coffee with ginger and cardamom, like they serve in one of the lovely Sudanese restos in town. This is a very dense loaf, and the texture is somewhere between yeast bread and quick bread. Despite the sugar and bananas, this bread isn't sweet. That last sentence will make sense once you look at the list of spices. If you want sweet bread, add about 1/2c sugar and scale back the ginger and mustard (but don't leave out the mustard entirely until you've tried it, trust me). I don't want sweet bread. I want spicy bread. It is spectacular with orange marmalade. And it's better the second day, after all the spices settle in.

3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soy yogurt or 1/3 c. okara diluted with enough water to make 1/2 cup goo.
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup agave (or sugar)
3-4 tbs orange flower water
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 heaping tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground dry mustard
2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch cloves
2 tbs - 1/4 cup espresso powder (I just use normal espresso, not instant. the grind if fine enough that it doesn't make the bread grainy)
1/2 tsp salt (I used vanilla salt)

about 2.5 cups strong whole wheat flour (bread flour, not pastry)
1 package yeast (2 tbs)
+ about 1.5 cups more to knead in ( I used ww spelt)

Mash first group of ingredients together. Mix yeast with the 2.5 c flour (I used quick yeast, which you add directly to flour, otherwise, go through the appropriate rigamarole of proofing your yeast in some warm water + sugar, and just add a bit of extra flour). Mix yeast flour into mash. Knead in the rest of the flour. continue kneading and adding flour until dough is as wet as possible without still being sticky. Form into a round loaf and place in a bread or cake pan that you've sprinkled with cornmeal. Spray the top of the loaf with olive oil. All of the spices are going to just about (but not quite) kill the yeast, and the bread rises slowly so this does best if you let it rise overnight on the counter (my kitchen is fairly cool). You don't have to cover the bread. It's very moist, and the oil will keep it from drying out. Then again, I live in a very undry country, so this might not be true if you live in, say, Arizona. Use your judgement.

In the morning, heat your oven to 250C. Bake uncovered at 250 for 10 mins, then cover, drop the heat to 220, and bake for a further 15-20 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Eat!


vegandwhatnot said...

This sounds sooo awesome...I love bitter/spicy foods. That and the mustard intrigues me...mustard is one of those foods I crave all the time.

I do have a question about how you let bread rise. I notice that you don't mention punching it down at any point...I'm curious, if you just let any bread rise for a long time, do you need to bother with punching it down and letting it rise several times before baking?

Also, could anything be subbed for the okara/soy yogurt? It's looking like I'm allergic to soy, so both would be no-gos. Would rice milk and some sort of starch work?

sinead said...

Hmmm... this particular bread is more similar in texture to a yeasted cake than anything else, so I don't punch to down. Also, the poor yeast are on death's door with all the spices. With other breads, I tend to be as lazy as possible, but yeah, when I want nice chewy bready, I do squish them and let them rise again (like Jeebus).

Go for it with the rice milk + starch. You might want to also add a tbs or so of almond or cashew butter since the soy is the only source of fat in this entire recipe, and it does make quite a difference to the overall texture as well as how well the spices carry. Let me know how it works!

Pistashio said...

Well since our father has taught us that pie = breakfast, I firmly believe that all meals can be cake... so, I decided that this would make an excellent breakfast cake (and if you are feeling adventurous you could even eat it in the afternoon or evening!!). It works if you make a little brown sugar-spicy-yummy-struselesque stuff to put on at the last stage of baking OR after it is done baking, throw on a glaze/reduction made mostly with brandy and marmalade (and you can throw in any spices that smell pretty).

Oh, also... as a crazy ottawationian, I have also found a new love for maple butter... which is a GLORIOUS topping if you make the less sweet version of the bread!

Now I am having some issues with turning some of your other items into cake... like the soups, no matter how much chocolate or icing sugar I add they still seem to be soup. For now I will settle with eating some dishes with cake on the side.

sinead said...

Yesss... someone sent me some maple butter from Ottawa. It's pretty much the best thing that has ever been done to tree sap.

I haven't managed to turn soup into cake (yet), but I have turned dinner into cake, and have made sweet fruit soups... It's just a matter of time, really. I bet I can do it. Yup. Give me a few weeks.