All curled up by the window in my newly nested living room - warm sun on my face and the road sounds and birdsong underneath me. Bamboo blinds cast shadows over the steeping tulsi rose tea beside me and there is the slightest cooling breeze. I am loving this season - my new place, the welcoming neighborhood, and this fresh start to a life here. It is amazing how a set of seemingly bad events can set you up for beautiful ones. Forced to relocate in the middle of winter, apartment searching in this often cold, overpriced city to, after many moments of discourage, finally finding the most lovely place. A warm, light filled flat near Prospect park, with a roommate who already feels like my closest friend here.
All my non-nesting time has been preparing for the next thing. My too-good-to-be-true internship will be ending before I know it and these last couple of months I've been facing that tumultuous, college is ending, what do I do with my life feeling. There are so many opportunities in the works and I am in a constant state of leaning more towards one and then abruptly switching to the other without much reason. I'm hoping that the the new moon will bring some answers, and May can be more clear.
Until then I'm going to revel in my beautiful new place - housing a kitchen (with a window!) I really want to cook in. I've been making crazy meals like never before, and a roommate who shares all of my food tastes!
Rainy days are bread making days, and on this bread making day I came up with Roasted Parsnip and Sage bread. I was interested in the parsnip being fully integrated, and more like a flour component than large chunks of parsnip, although the latter would also be quite delicious.
Sage and Roasted Parsnip Rustic White Bread
3 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cup grated roasted parsnip
1 teaspoon instant yeast (2 teaspoons dry active yeast)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
I. Heat the oven to 425 and roast the grated parsnip for about 20 minutes, being sure to turn it in the pan about every five minutes. Take out of oven and let cool.
II. Reserve about 1/4 cups of the bread flour and place it on a clean counter top. Place the remaining flour with spelt flour and the roasted parsnip in a medium sized bowl. Measure the salt and put it on one side of the flour and measure the yeast and put it on the other side of the flour. Pour the warm water in the middle and begin to mix. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. If you don't have a stand mixer (like me!) than you can do this by hand, I find it to be therapeutic. Just mix it together with a wooden spoon until it comes together, you can use your hands to help it a bit too.
III. Once your dough has formed a mass you can switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for about two minutes. Or if you are doing it by hand you can continue mixing with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, occasionally putting the spoon in the middle of the dough and mixing from there. If the dough is too sticky or dry feel free to add water or flour by the tablespoon. After it has mixed let it rest for about 5 minutes.
IV. Add in your chopped sage and then let the dough mix for another 3 minutes, or another 5 minutes of hand mixing. Place the dough on the counter and, using the flour reserved on the counter, knead the dough by hand. If the dough already feels soft and firm you may only need to knead for a couple of minutes.
V. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough over to coat the whole thing in oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and place to rest in a warm spot for an hour and a half. The dough should double in size. Remove the dough from the bowl and then lightly punch the dough down and then reform it into a ball. Return to bowl and allow to rest for another 30 minutes.
VI. After the second short rest place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into two pieces. Form each piece into a round ball, tucking any haggard edges underneath the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and then let rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
VII. During the last 20 minutes of the resting period preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave a baking sheet or stone to heat in the oven as well.
VIII. Right before the boules go in the oven slash the tops with a very sharp knife or a razor blade if you have it with 2 - 4 slashes. I did squares, but x's or any design you'd like would work! Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheets and return to the oven.
IX. If you want a bit of caramel coloring on the crust of your bread - create steam in the oven! You can pour about 1/4 cup of water on the bottom of the oven or take a water filled spray bottle and spray around the edges of the oven. Wait 2 minutes and then repeat the process.
X. Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes. They'll be golden and beautiful. Let cool and then enjoy with honey or jam!