Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gruel Bread

A few years ago I figured out a use for leftovers I didn't want to eat: Bake them into bread. I started with gruel bread made with leftover overcooked vegetables from soup stock. Gruel bread was not actually very good, however. Some leftovers work better than others. For instance, I have a truly nasty hempseed bar that I plan to boil down and use in bread or muffins, and the results might be rather tasty. I may do the same with my Trader Joe's fig cake, which has a strong boozy taste that I don't like, but that might be a good flavoring for bread.

A few weeks ago cauliflower and squash were on sale at the corner grocery store, and I used most of a head of cauliflower and most of a winter squash of some sort to make a vegetable dish. I steamed them, and then I baked them with orange juice, brandied ginger puree, and allspice. It sounded good, but in the end I didn't like it very much. Eventually I concluded I wasn't going to finish eating it all, so I froze the last of it.

After a few days I realized I probably wasn't going to eat the two frozen servings either, so I thought it over and decided to use them as the base for bread. I warmed them up in the microwave, pureed them in the blender with more orange juice, and substituted them for the fruit in the Freshly Fruited Bread recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.

The quirk of squash bread is that it absorbs flour slowly. At first it behaves as though I were a complete cad for putting in so much flour, and it is resolved to be dry and inedible. Then, as I continue to knead, I find that the dough is actually wet and sticky. I have to continue adding flour, but only a little at a time, and it takes too long, and if there's very much whole grain flour in the mix, it is awfully hard work. I've taken to using mostly white flour for squash bread so the kneading is not tiring. Today I ran out of whole wheat and had to mix in some soy flour and brown rice flour, which has very little gluten, but the white flour should make up for the rest of the gluten so the bread will rise well.

I'm rushing the rise a little because a friend is arriving in 45 minutes for a bike ride.