The Fresh Loaf

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altering recipe to add spinach

Oh no not me's picture
Oh no not me

altering recipe to add spinach

I just bought a bread machine on Craigslist and want to make some whole wheat spinach bread. I've never used a bread machine and have only made a VERY few loaves of bread ever. Here's a recipe I found that seems like it would be delish, but there's no spinach in it.

I've read how to prepare spinach for bread -- cook it and drain and then puree. I also would like to add a little garlic to that mixture, cooked with the spinach. I would like to use nearly no sweetener because I avoid sugar as much as possible. Could I substitute Truvia for the honey? If so, would the added moisture in the spinach sub for the lack of moisture in the honey? Or, will omitting honey ruin the bread or will it taste terrible without any or little sweetener? Can I substitute olive oil for the butter? And if use "butter" can I use margarine instead? I try to be as vegan as possible. So, any info on these issues? Oh, and what would be an appropriate amt of spinach to use? A friend told me to use one bunch, but bunches vary in size. Can anyone help me out?

Grenage's picture

You could use olive oil instead of butter, and you could also use margarine is you so wish; I'd probably opt for the olive oil, but it's a matter of taste.  You can be quite liberal with the spinach, but bear in mind that if you're mashing the stuff, you'll need to reduce the water used by an appropriate, as there's a decent amount of water in spinach - especially after cooking.

Freshly crushed garlic kills the yeast in my sourdough bread, so I have to lightly pre-cook it in a pan before adding to the dough.  I don't know if this will happen with regular baker's yeast.

I doubt the bread will taste terrible without the addition of a sweetener. ;)

harliebe's picture

I hope you will forgive my sharing some basics with you.

1.  You are new to baking bread but you are using a bread machine of unknown outcomes.

2.  You have not added spinach to bread before

3.  Truvia instead of honey.

4   Extra water from spinach because of honey.

5   Olive Oil or margerine substituted for butter.

6.  How much spinach to use

This question is a nightmare.  I have baked regularly for over 60 years and like to make substitutions but one thing I have learned is to make one major change at a time and maybe a minor change or two. 

Second, baking in a bread machine is more restricted than baking in the oven.  Start by using an oven, if you plan to make any changes, and then in a few months, after using established bread machine recipes or mixes you might try some changes. 

I have found that sauteeing the garlic in butter or whatever and then adding freshly washed spinach to the saute pan, covering immediately.  Is the best was to keep the garlicy spinach flavor.  Drain and let cool and squeeze.  Then (unless you want green bread) I would probably roll the spinach/garlic/(black pepper) into the bread rather than mix it in.   ( If that mix looks too wet add an egg to the spinach and a small amount of bread crumbs.)

Truvia vs honey.  I'd leave that for another day.  Not because of the moisture content which would be negligible but honey and sugar are not added to bread simply to sweeten the bread.  They give a boost to and feed the yeast.  The Truvia might do that but how it would compare I do not know.  Sugar is a basic in bread and like salt, flour and water don't mess with them until you understand their function.  And dont mess with doubling the dough and get a friend to show you how to knead bread (both methods.) 

Last comment.  Don't worry about moisture content in the dough unless you end up with either soup or a dough that looks and feels as if baking is unnecessary.  Too dry add water a tiny bit at a time (1 tsp), too wet add flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl. 

The joy of bread is as much in the baking as in the eating.  Have fun.  But learn a recipe and get it right before you start making changes. Good luck.

Oh no not me's picture
Oh no not me

I soooo appreciate your comments!!! I guess I thought a bread machine would be way easier than it actually is. My vision is clearly a bit skewed due to my lack of experience and knowledge. Knowing nothing about the chemistry of baking is a huge disadvantage in my desire to be creative. :-( I guess I'll just start with the recipe I found that seems to be something I'd like and start from there, leaving my creativity until later.   

jcking's picture

You've gotten some good advice. I'd add that you post, or search the site, for info about the type of Bread Machine you have. Others with the same machine can give you advice and some recipes that have worked for them.


dabrownman's picture

is the water in the spinach may get out of control.  I would put the spinach in a tea towel and ring all the water out of it just to try to control the water going into the dough as best you can. Subbing non sugar sweetener isn't a problem if you follow the instructions to do so.

The water in the honey will be gone which, in this case is a good thing, since the spinach has so much water in it.  The yeast will have plenty of flour to munch on.  Diabetics sub for honey all the time.  Oil for butter will reduce the amount of water in the mix too, since butter is about 20% water, but you won't notice it since the dough will be about as slack with the oil, even though it has no water it will feel like it.

You probably want to hold back some of the water and see how the dough feels before adding it in if necessary - just to be on the safe side..

Happy baking, 

lazybaker's picture

Google search engine gave some results for "whole wheat spinach bread". There's a recipe from a blog:


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

You could dry the spinach, either in a dehydrator or in the oven after its been turned off and has cooled down to about 150 degrees. Spread the spinach out and let it dry a few hours. A dehydrator would be the easiest,

The herb store where I buy tea sells spinach and beet powders for making pasta.

bunnieluv's picture

WOW, you got a lot of great responses! 

I can only add what I do, as I make veg breads frequently.

I have found that some of the sweeteners that are devived from certain fruits like mangosteen (Nectresse) or African berries/brazzein (Cweet), taste PROFOUNDLY less bitter than stevia (Truvia). These fruit (low cal) sweeteners also appear to provide an envirnoment which supports a more sucessful "yeastie featsie".

I can tell you what I do for spinach recipes. I use it A LOT ( is putting it mildly) and other dark greens in recipes because I hate eating it, but I need the vitamin K etc. Spinach ( leafy green veg in general) always pulls a fast one and mountains of it disappear once a little heat is added. The best deal in the grocery store is frozen veg. The veg is picked at the peak of the growing season, washed throughly, and is flash frozen preserving all the vital nutriants. A bunch of spinach (we are not talking baby, regular old Popeye spinach) is not much, it is not the same amounts as what is sold in a bag. A bunch of spinach is about the same as a frozen box of spinach. It is not very much, FYI. You can get organic if you like, and non of this spinach precooked. Do not cook, no need to and its more vibrant. I take a colender, place it in the sink, with the boxes of spinach in the collender and let it thaw while running luke warm water over the box(es). I break up the spinach with my fingers breaking up any little stuck together frosty bits. I find for the strongest flavor, I will add salt and pepper and dehydrated onion, not powder... the chunky bits. This product resembles the onion bits on a plain McDonalds hamburger, if my memory serves me correctly.    

Using salt, pepper, dehydrated onion is a great base. The addition of dehydr garlic, lemon zest/juice/power/dehydr, and Herbes de Provance or basil ( dried or fresh) is also nice. You can skip or lower the salt and sprinkle in a bit of veg, chicken, or beef granulated bouillon, which is delicious. I add the above ingrediants in some form or another, in the spinach with my hands and leave it in the collender for 15 min-1 hour. If you want to sautee fresh onion and garlic do so while the spinach resting. The reason I used the dehydrated flavorings, is because though the texture of fresh onion and garlic is nice, there is not really enough strong flavor that you can get with out comprimosing the texture of the bread. If you sautee in addtion to the dehydrated, really cook it down so the flavor is nice and the moisture content goes down. Use a sparkling clean dishtowel ( as was suggested earlier) that HAS NO LINT LIKE A FLOURSACK CLOTH OR MUSLIN or cheese cloth. SAVE SOME OF THIS SPINACH WATER, and add your powdered sweetener to it. It may sound and taste yucky, but the science works, and the taste will disappear when it all mixed up. As you know, you cannot activate yeast with a powdered sweetener, this might be an alt. for you as you mentioned avioding honey etc. Honey, agave of course they are ideal, this should work for you, just get the temp correct. Gather the spinach (with out the sautee mixture) up into the cloth, forming a pouch and squeeze hard. Repeating until the spinach seems almost dry. You will be pleased how the spinach juice activated the dehydr flavorings and its a nice flavorful mixture. Now add the sautee toss with your hands, and use it as you will.  I suggest doing a few boxes of spinach and adding as you need it, the mixture freezers very well and is great for making stuffed shells, lasagna(w/ ricotta and parm), herby cheve spread ( cheve, cream cheese, little cream, parm), compound "butter", spanikopidita ( more lemon, oregano and feta cheese)... etc!!     I hope that you tackle that bread, the recipe looks yummy!! Best Bread :)

Oh no not me's picture
Oh no not me

Thanks, bunnieluv. This is great info. After I absorb this, I'm sure I'll have more questions. But I do have one now. The recipe I found that seems good, and has seeds, calls for flax seed (I bought some yesterday) and sunflower seeds. SURELY it doesn't mean those gray and white large seeds, but must mean the kernals, right? But all the kernals I see in the store are salted. Should I use these or find unsalted ones?