For about three days it was gorgeous here in Jerusalem. Crisp but not too cold, sunny, clear and very Fall-like. I headed out to the shuk with a renewed optimism for choosing Jerusalem over Tel Aviv as our home base here in Israel. I smiled at the vendors, bought butternut squash which I cooked into Katherine’s amazing tagine recipe, I stopped into the second-hand shop across from my favorite spice vendors and bought an adorable hand-made hoodie, I busted out my soft corduroys and cuddled with my favorite purple scarf. It was a short-lived but wonderful in-between season.
Now the rain and cold have arrived and I am trying to find ways to keep warm in our drafty, old, stone apartment. Though getting under the comforter until March or building a bonfire in the living room are both appealing options, turning on the oven is more practical and productive. This bread is a great excuse.
Silan bread with olive oil and cooked grains
2 1/4 cups of warm water, divided (~100°F)
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup silan (date honey) or molasses
3 Tbs olive oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cooked grains such as rice, tabbouleh, wheat berries, oatmeal etc
2 cups all-pupose flour
3-4 cups whole wheat flour
Stir 1/4 cup of the warm water into the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let sit about 5 minutes until foamy. If your yeast does not foam, check the expiration and the water temp and start over.
In a mixing bowl combine the remaining 2 cups of water with the cooked grains, silan, salt, and oil. Add the yeast mixture, then stir in the white flour. Add the whole wheat flour, one cup at a time. When it becomes too hard to mix, turn the dough out onto a surface and knead in more flour. Knead the dough until it is smooth but still a bit tacky, adding more flour as necessary.
Form the dough into a ball and put it in a greased bowl, turning it over once to grease the top as well. Cover with plastic (loosely) and a towel and set aside to rise for 1 1/4 hours – dough should double in bulk.
Turn the dough out and shape it into 2 loaves to fit into two, greased 8 x 10 inch loaf pans or 9 inch round cake pans. Cover and allow the dough to rise in the pans for 40 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the loaves for 50 minutes.
Note: This bread seems to have a shorter shelf life than others, perhaps because of the moisture from the cooked grains. Be sure to freeze the extra loaf if you will not eat it within a couple of days.