The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Aroma Bread - A Love Story

  • Pin It
hanseata's picture
hanseata

Aroma Bread - A Love Story

 

One of my most favorite cookbooks is "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals".

Award winning Author Maria Speck combines her German father's love for hearty grains, and her Greek mother's culinary talents in dishes that make you grab your shopping bag, hop on the bike or in the car, and drive to the next natural food store to buy those ancient grains, veggies and fruits for Maria's mouthwatering meals.

Normally I consider a cookbook worth its money, if it contains at least one recipe I really like to cook. "Ancient Grains" has so many, that I still haven't prepared all the ones I want to try. (No, I DON'T get a commission!)

 A few of the dishes are breads, among them the Aroma Bread. A no-knead bread by trade, its evocative name spiked my interest, and my love affair with the spicy loaf began.

"Ancient Grains" is very user friendly, with detailed, easy to follow instructions, no sophisticated culinary equipment needed. No-knead breads meet these expectations, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a clean kitchen towel, a Dutch oven, and you are all set.

These low maintenance breads don't want you to slave over them, they are free spirits, and perfectly willing to go and develop themselves, if you give them enough time (and a little bit of yeast.) They show their gratitude by rising eagerly, and tasting better than many other loaves that had been kneaded, slapped and punched into submission.

You have the choice between a crunchy, and an XX-crunchy Aroma Bread. If you opt for the super chewy, you need to soak whole grain berries for several hours, before mixing them into the dough. This is definitely no impulse bread, so plan to bake it 24 hours ahead.

Maria called her loaf "Aroma Bread" for a good reason. This truly aromatic loaf is not for the faint hearted! But in our old home country Germany breads are often flavored with coriander, fennel and caraway, these herbs are even commonly referred to as "Brotgewürz" (bread spices.) You can use them whole, or coarsely ground.

Bread spices fennel, caraway and coriander

As easy as no-knead breads are to mix, handling wet dough always remains a bit of a challenge. And here comes the sticky wicket: the dough has to be shaped into a loaf, and transferred from the mixing bowl to a place where it can rise. And, after that, it has to be turned out into a piping hot Dutch oven.

That leaves you with two choices: either to lower the bread gently into the pot, risking nasty burns (aka Baker's Badge of Honor). Or you let it drop from a secure height - and have your bread sigh and deflate!

Maria solves the problem by having you scrape the bubbly fermented mass onto a well floured countertop (flour is your friend, creating a barrier between the sticky dough and its surroundings), so that you can fold it into a round.

Then you place the loaf on a floured kitchen towel, fold the corners over it, and, voilà, you have a cozy proofing place. Of course, it takes a rather amorphous shape from being bundled in a kitchen towel. 

My first bread went into a large, oval Dutch oven (I didn't have a smaller one), and eagerly spread to fill the void.

My first Aroma Bread - shaped like a roly poly!

Baked into a rather flat loaf, it reminded me of those little things that scurry away when you lift a stone. But when I took the first bite, my eyes glazed over. My flat roly poly bread tasted awesome!

The next time I decided to set the bread more boundaries, changing its Armadillidiida appearance. Instead of proofing it simply in a towel, I used my pretty brotform to contain it.

Proofed in a rising basket, the bread is round but still...

 

 

It came out of the oven nice and round, but still... way too much room to spread during the baking.

Alas! My main source for discounted kitchen gadgets, Home Goods, was letting me down when I needed it most. Still without the right sized pot, I decided to experiment with a free-standing, self- contained sourdough version, made with pre-doughs à la Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads".

Aroma Bread made as free-standing loaf (with sourdough)

My hearth baked sourdough loaf turned out beautiful. Though I couldn't find much difference in taste, this method is a good alternative for people who either have no Dutch oven, love wild yeasts, hate wet doughs, or prefer to bake their bread as free-standing loaf.

The next time I visited Marshall's (another treasure trove for kitchen stuff) I found a snazzy turquoise cast iron pot in just the right size - for half the price! And soon was mixing the ingredients for my fourth Aroma Bread - again the no-knead version.

And out of the oven came (TATAAA!): the perfect Aroma Bread - looking just as good as it tasted!

The last task left to do for inquiring minds, was to try the sandwich version of Aroma Bread, baked in a loaf pan. A cold cut-friendly shape, and the easiest way to make this wonderful bread. And it has an additional benefit: you can bake more than just one loaf at a time. (My customers will be happy!)

Aroma Sandwich Bread - the easiest version

 

COMMENTS:

  • If you use the optional whole grain berries (I made the bread with and without, both versions are great) add more salt: 9 g/0.3 oz instead of 7 g/0.25 oz. 
  • Instead of sunflower seeds you can also take pumpkin seeds (or a mixture of both.)
  • Toast the seeds, before adding them to the dough.
  • For an easier, risk free transport of the proofed bread into the hot pot, use a large piece of parchment paper as a sling to lower the bread gently into the pot. You don't have to remove it.

 

AROMA BREAD    1 (2-pound) loaf

 

Grain Berries (optional):

1/2 cup whole wheat, rye, kamut, or spelt berries

cold water, for soaking

 

Dough:

340 g/12 oz whole spelt flour (3 cups)

107 g/ 3.75 oz whole rye flour (1 cup)

  57 g/2 oz coarse or medium stone ground cornmeal (1/2 cup)

  67 g/ 2.35 oz sunflower or pumpkin seeds, toasted (1/2 cup)

  35 g/ 1.25 oz flax or sesame seeds, toasted (1/4 cup)

   2 tbsp. aroma spice blend*)

    7 g/ 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or 9 g/0.3 oz if using whole grain berries)

    1 g/ 1/4 tsp. instant yeast

     all soaked whole grain berries (if using)

475 g/2 cups cold water

cornmeal, for sprinkling

 *) Aroma spice blend: mix 6 tablespoons whole coriander seeds with 3 tablespoons each fennel and caraway seeds (enough for 6 loaves).

 

 DAY 1

In the morning, place whole grain berries in a bowl and cover with at least 1-inch cold water. Cover, and leave at room temperature to soak. Before using, drain them through a strainer (by the way, the soaking water is an excellent fertilizer for your plants.)

Mixed dough - I used black sesame seeds for a nice contrast

In the evening, whisk together all ingredients for the dough in a large bowl, except for soaked grain berries and water. Scatter grain berries on top, and add almost all the water. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until all flour is hydrated. (Dough will be wet and sticky, if not, add a bit more water.) Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature to ferment for 12 - 18 hours.

Overnight the dough grows to a puffy, swollen mass

 DAY 2

Use a rising basket, (or improvise by placing a clean kitchen towel over a basket or bowl.) Sprinkle with fine cornmeal (other flours work, too). Generously flour your work surface. Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the stringy, bubbly dough onto the work surface.

Scraping out the fermented dough you will see its spongy structure

 With floured hands (or two oiled bench knifes or bowl scrapers), fold dough exactly 4 times, always towards the center, from the top, the bottom, the right and the left side. Turn the dough package around and place it, seam side down, into the towel lined rising basket. Sprinkle with cornmeal or flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about 1 hour.

After 30 minutes, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat oven to 475ºF. Place a 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart cast iron pot or Dutch oven (with lid) on the rack to heat up.

When the dough has grown about 1 1/2 times its original size, poke it gently with your finger. The dimple should not fill up again (it can come back a little bit, but should remain visible). If not, wait another 15 minutes.

Fitting snugly in the Dutch oven, the bread will rise more than spread

Remove hot pot from the oven and open the lid. Gently turn out the proofed bread from the rising basket into the Dutch oven, seam side up, guiding it with your hand, (or turn it out onto a parchment paper and, holding the paper on both sides, gently lower the bread into the pot (with paper).

Cover with the lid, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking for 20 - 25 minutes, until the loaf is nicely browned, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and an instant thermometer, inserted in the middle, registers 200ºF.

Remove bread from cast-iron pot and transfer it to a wire rack to cool.

 

AROMA SANDWICH LOAF

Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with oil, and sprinkle it with 1-2 tablespoons of flax- or sesame seeds. After folding the risen dough, place it, seam side up, right in the prepared loaf pan. (My suggestion: brush top with water, and sprinkle it with more flax- or sesame seeds.) Let it proof as described.

Preheat oven only to 425ºF, placing an oven proof pan or broiler tray for steaming on a the lowest level to heat up.

When loaf is proofed, place in the middle of the oven, pour 1 cup boiling water in the hot steam pan , and bake loaf for 30 minutes. Remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees for even browning, and  bake it for about 30 minutes more, or until it registers 200ºF.

Let loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes, than turn it out onto a wire rack (if it sticks to the pan, loosen it with a butter knife or spatula.)

 

AROMA SOURDOUGH BREAD 

Starter:

64 g/2.25 oz rye mother starter (100%hydration)

205 g/7.25 oz whole spelt flour

124 g/4.4 oz lukewarm water

 

Soaker:

  57 g/2 oz coarse or medium ground cornmeal

  75 g/2.65 oz whole rye flour

  92 g/3.25 oz whole spelt flour

168 g/6 oz water

    4 g/0.15 salt

 

Final Dough:

   all soaker and starter

  43 g/1.5 ozwhole spelt flour

    5 g/0.2 oz salt

    5 g/0.2 oz instant yeast

  67 g/2.35 oz sunflower- or pumpkin seeds, toasted

  35 g/1.25 oz sesame seeds, toasted

    2 tbsp. aroma spice blend (see original recipe)

182 g/6.4 oz water, add more as needed

 

DAY 1

In the morning, stir together all ingredients for soaker. Cover, and leave at room temperature.

Mix all starter ingredients at low speed (or by hand) for 1 minute, until all flour is hydrated. Knead for 2 minutes at medium-low speed (or by hand.) Let rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for another minute. Cover, and leave at room temperature.

In the evening, mix all ingredients for final dough for 1- 2 minutes at low speed (or by hand) until all flour is hydrated. Knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 4 minutes, adding more water as needed. Dough should be very tacky and not dry to the touch. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 1 more minute. (Dough should be tacky, but not sticky.)

Gather dough into a ball, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it around to coat it with oil. Cover well, and place it in refrigerator overnight.

 

DAY 2

Remove dough from fridge 2 hours before using, to warm up. (It should have risen nicely overnight.)

Preheat oven to 500ºF, with bread stone and steam pan.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, and shape into a round. Place boule, seam side down, in a floured rising basket. Sprinkle with more flour. Cover, and let it rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until it has grown 1 1/2 times its original size, and a dimple stays visible when you gently poke it with a finger.

Turn bread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or use a peel) and place it in the oven, pour a cup of boiling water in the steam pan and reduce heat to 475ºF. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 425ºF. Continue baking for another 10 minutes, rotate bread 180 degrees, remove steam pan, and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until it is nicely browned, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and registers 200ºF.

Cool on wire rack.

This Aroma Bread was made with whole kamut berries

 You can also follow Maria Speck on facebook or on twitter (I do!)

 (Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.)

 Submitted to YeastSpotting

Comments

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And looks good, too!  I love that spice combination, especially when the spices are lightly toasted before use.  Wonderful breads!

Paul

hanseata's picture
hanseata

You should really try it. I didn't put so much effort in it for nothing, I do love this spicy bread.

Karin

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

great breads like the wild rice bread that sits firmly in out top 5 breads of all time - with 12 others.   Can't wait to make this bread - just fantastic! ........ and then the DaApprentice's DaPumpernickeling will begin...but what actually awaits would be just a wild guess at this point and requiring way more beer than we currently have on hand :-)

Just super duper baking Karin!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

You crack me up, DBM, and here you have all the grains and seeds to your (and your apprentice) hearts desire. And, please, do get the necessary beer to tackle it!

I just had a really dark roasted LA 31 Ale, together with my first Jambalaya.

Karin

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

are very nice in NO but my favorite is mud bug Etouffee - hard to get it done right out of bayous.   Enjoy your trip. By the way, as you well know, there'never enough beer for a GBA.  (German Baking Apprentice)  .

Will have to sub some YW for the commercial yeast in the recipe now that I see it has some.  Will bake this next week.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I saw those, but not the mud bug etouffee (must be delicious, though, perhaps a bit murky).

Please post about your baking experience,

High Five,

Karin

Alpana's picture
Alpana

Such a great bread! Love this one. One more addition to my bucket list. 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

This is definitely one for the bucket list, Alpana. And, please, let me know how you like it.

Karin

isand66's picture
isand66

Looks like a fantastic loaf.  I shall have to save this one for sure. yo hope your enjoying your road trip.

ian

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Indeed, I do.
It's not as warm as exspected, but who cares in this colorful, cheerful environment. We did the big Sightseeing Tour yesterday, and will listen to the weekly (free) Jazz Concert in the park today.

Karin

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Karin,

Thanks for covering all the ways to 'not' proof this loaf :-)  It will make my 'job' all the easier and you did pretty much cover all of the bases :-)  Glad to hear good old PR saved the day again.

A question, since I do intend to add this to my list.....why more salt for the whole grain version?  I have never heard of that before so am curious as to why....

Thanks for mentioning Marshall's kitchen section...or maybe I shouldn't as I really do not have any more room in my kitchen for..............but we did just have a new Marshalls open up last week right next door to my local BBBeyond.  Now I have an excuse for going there....

Thanks for the wonderful post and something new to try in my kitchen.

Take Care,

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Janet, (and I'm glad to share my secret passion for half-priced kitchen gadgets).

I found the loaf didn't contain much salt, anyway, the bread spices make up for that. I'm always careful with salt, and don't tend to put too much in anything I cook or bake. But when I baked the loaf with all the whole grain berries added, I thought it could do with some more, since the amount of dough is larger.

If you don't care for the spicy - I made a version with 1/3 of the spices, too - you definitely have to up the salt, otherwise it gets a bit bland. I love the strong aroma, but my husband is more one of the faint-hearted.

Karin

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks for the information on the salt.  I will take note and I will tread softly with the spices too as many I bake for are unfamiliar with strong spices in breads...but those that do like them LOVE them :-)

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

The recipe suggests using the whole spice seeds, but the effect is a bit mitigated if you grind them - then the "faint-hearted" don't experience spicy bits when they chew on it. For my husband's sake, I probably would use 2 tablespoons of the mix (ground) instead of 3 (whole seeds), I found that adding just 1 tablespoon took too much away from the character of the bread.

Let me know what you think of it.

Karin

varda's picture
varda

Karin,   This looks like an incredibly flavorful bread.   And wonderful texture for them as likes a bread with a bit of bite to it.   I have used coriander for Russian Rye, and caraway for Jewish Rye.   But coriander, caraway and fennel all together?   Can't even imagine it.   Beautiful baking!  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Yes, the combination is really wonderful. You should try it!

And I will think of you on the 30st and wish you all a very nice and interesting meeting.

Karin

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thank you Karin for the wonderful inspiration! Those breads must be a true delight, too much so that one may lose interest in non- spiced breads. Very nice baking, as usual.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

As always, I appreciate your friendly comments.

Karin

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Spice seeds should be just hammered a little or crushed, roasted and crushed, just to crack their hulls.    My favorite spice combination for bread!    Rye and Spelt...  you all know where I stand on this loaf!  :)       Also good in a Pullman I bet!    

  • I like to put the spices into the inoculated starter.  (One may find that this intensifies the flavours so a teaspoon or two less is needed.)   

With the great write-up and pictures, I now am officially homesick for Spelt.  

Mini

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Mini,

Roasting spices?  I have never heard of that being done before....Do you simply roast them like nuts?  Do you always roast or just sometimes?  How does it change the flavor profile???

Sorry for so many questions but you have piqued my curiosity here.

Another one - why not just toss the seeds in whole so that the flavor is more concentrated?

Take Care,

Janet

Karin, 

Hope I am not hijacking your lovely post but thought others might like to see what Mini has to say on the subject so I put my ?'s here rather than in a PM.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Roasting spices link 

It was Eric Hanner that mentioned roasting the spices and by golly!  That did make an improvement in the flavour.  I had purchased them already mixed and the amounts do change a little from brand name to brand name and every few years.  

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks Mini.  I never thought to google such a thing but just did after following your link and HERE is a recipe I found which sounds similar to what Syd was playing around with.

Janet

 

 

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Interesting thought. I usually crush them in a mortar.  Is there no spelt available where you are?

Take care,

Karin

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:(  

But 100% rye with Chia isn't all that bad!  :)   I still have lots of bread spice mix!   Waiting on the new crop of walnuts and seeds. 

Laurentius's picture
Laurentius

Hi Janet,

Never roasted spices? So you've never made curry rouxes or meat rubs? One of the best ways to extract the essences from spices and nuts is simple pan roasting, please give it a try.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Nope.  I have only roasted nuts and seeds but tomorrow I am baking Swedish Limpa and I will roast the spices.  Fun to have a new 'trick' to use.

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I always roast nuts to get more taste out of them. Also, it kind of refreshes them, if they are a bit older. The only nut that doesn't benefit a lot from roasting are walnuts.

Karin

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Karin,

So why don't walnuts benefit from being roasted?  I just assumed all did so I have always roasted them before adding them to a dough.

Janet

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

funny huh?  I have to be very careful roasting them because they can overroast so easily and also burn.  Medium heat oven with your eye on them after the first 5 minutes!    To me roasted taste more buttery unless they are too brown.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts improve significantly by roasting, walnuts only incremental, therefore, unless you watch the roasting like a hawk, you get them too brown, and then they taste kind of rancid.

Karin

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks Mini and Karin for the clarification....I have learned to watch like a hawk because I did burn several batches before I figured out the right temp and times....In fact, I just burned a batch of hazelnuts a couple of days ago.....I simply forgot to set the timer and by the time I could smell the nuts it was too late.  Live and Learn :-)

Janet

Laurentius's picture
Laurentius

Walnuts! English or black walnuts, pan sauted in a little butter is fantastic, great in homemake ice cream, sticky buns or cinnamon rolls. Don't get me started on buttered pecans in a sourdough boule. What were we talking about???

Marizsa Darling's picture
Marizsa Darling

Hi There! I am new to this beautiful community, and a new wannabe baker as well! I am going through Le Cordon Bleu pastry and baking program and we are exploring the art of Viennoiserie. Soon we are to formulate our own bread recipe and I have no idea where to start, I've been looking through tons of blogs today and came across yours and I just want to thank you because you have helped jumpstart my brain. BEAUTIFUL! 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

and welcome to TFL! (I'm sorry I didn't see your post earlier)

Happy Baking,

Karin

CrustandCrumb's picture
CrustandCrumb

My family really enjoyed the loaf version of this recipe. I cut back on the spices to 1 tablespoon and realized afterwards with all the other flavors in the bread 2 tablespoons is necessary.

Thanks for posting!

Sid

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'm happy to hear that you baked the bread and liked it. Yes, it definitely needs 2 tablespoons of spices, to deserve its evocative name.

Take care, Sid

Karin

EvaB's picture
EvaB

Am just now catching up on the forum, and trying to see some delicious things to try to bake in the future. We had a momentous event in April which is why I have been gone for so long, my daughter had twins, so spent 6 weeks chauffeuring her around (not able to drive that long) and helping them move house and settle in with babies. And then wound up pickling for a friends produce stand the rest of the summer, so had no time to peruse the forum. Not to mention the few days I did manage to pick some wild berries for pie, and so forth!

I would love to try this and see how my son in law would like it, he is a bread fiend, and has been told to cut down on it (he is a big boy and needs to loose a bit of the extra weight) so a nice whole grain bread like this would be good for him and a treat as well.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Eva, that must have been exciting. Our four combined kids didn't have the consideration to produce grandchildren for their parents, yet.

Please, do try it The bread is very satisfying, so your son will not be tempted to eat too much of it at a time :)

Karin

Skibum's picture
Skibum

I will now have to try your sourdough version of this bread. After reading this post I will also have to search out and try your wild rice bread. So many great  formulas to try!

Happy baking, Brian

hanseata's picture
hanseata

This is a really wonderful bread, and I'm going to bake the SD-Sandwich-Loaf version for sale, too. Here you find the Wild Rice Sourdough, also one of my favorites.

Happy Baking,

Karin

Skibum's picture
Skibum

I will definitely try this one. I may have to make it my next SD project. Thanks again. Brian