There is nothing quite as satisfying as eating a thick slice of warm homemade bread slathered with creamy butter. For me, the process of making and kneadingÂ bread dough, normally a cool-weather activity in my kitchen, brings peace to my mind, reduces stress and releases me from all the small stuff I’m sweating about.
Cracked Pepper and Chives Bread began with a bread machine recipe I found in an old cookbook I bought at an antique shop a couple of years ago. I added fresh chives to the original recipe, a little honey and olive oil as the fat. I do have a bread machine that I dug out and made the first batch as the original recipe directed. The bread turned out just fine. There’s just something about the shape of loaves turned out of my machine that just doesn’t seem right. Especially when I know how rustic and earthy bread can look when it is formed into rounds and baked on a pizza stone in the oven.
Now, I mix and knead the dough by hand, form it into two round loaves and bake them.
Cracked Pepper and Chives Bread is soft. Bits of cracked black peppercorns add zest and finely chopped fresh chives add delicate onion-like flavor. The bread is wonderful with butter. I like it toasted to make a fried egg sandwich for breakfast.
I’ve given directions for preparing the bread in a machine and for making two round loaves the old-fashioned way, using your own two hands.
Whichever way you decide to mix, knead and bake this bread, you’ll find it’s another delicious way to use up those bright green chives in your garden.
If you are lucky to have a healthy crop of chives in your garden, you may like to try the Chive and Cheddar scones I share in my column this week. Click here to get right to the recipe.
Cracked Pepper and Chives Bread
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I use Gold ‘n’ White from Natural Way Mills, available at my local natural foods co-op)
- 3/4 cup cracked wheat flour (I like to use organic 6-grain flour from Natural Way Mills)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons wheat germ
- 3/4 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil with a nice flavor. I used Italian Herb Blend that I purchased at Vinaigrette in Minneapolis.)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
To make in bread machine: Add all ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine manual and process on the Basic bread cycle according to the manufacturer’s directions. Allow the loaf to cool before slicing. Makes 1 (1 1/2-pound) loaf.
To mix by hand:
Heat 1 1/2 cups water to 105 degrees to 110 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup into a 1-cup measure. Add sugar and yeast. Mix and allow to stand until it starts to bubble and grow.
While yeast is proofing, measure 1 cup bread flour, cracked wheat flour, sugar, wheat germ, cracked pepper and salt into large mixing bowl. When yeast has grown, add to dry mixture in bowl along with remaining 1 cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon plus plus 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oilÂ and honey. A wooden spoon works well for mixing bread dough. Add chives and mix in. Continue to add bread flour until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl and follow the spoon. Turn dough out onto work surface that’s been sprinkled with a bit of the flour. Turn bowl upside down over dough. While dough is resting, use your fingers or a paper towel to swipe the inside of a large, clean bowl with some olive oil.
With floured hands, knead dough for about 8 minutes, until soft and smooth. Place dough into oiled bowl, then turn over so oiled side is on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down and turn onto work surface. Cut dough in half. Form each half into a round loaf. Place loaves on a peel sprinkled with cornmeal. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. Place pizza stone on middle rack of oven. Place a shallow baking pan on lower shelf. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sprinkle tops of loaves with flour. Using a serrated knife, cut an “x” into the top of each loaf.
Transfer loaves of dough from peel to preheated stone in oven. Pour 1 cup hot water into baking pan. Bake loaves for about 25 minutes, until dark brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.