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Inca amaranth bread

July 31, 2011

This blog was originally created to write about my breadmaking from a “southwestern” point of view.   Since I began, I have come across two great  books written with that theme.    One is Beth Hensberger’s “Breads of the Southwest”.  The other is Mark Miller’s “Flavored Breads” which feature recipes from his “Coyote Cafe” restaurant.   I’ll probably be going back to these books for inspiration for new ideas.   I have only recently learned about amaranth “grain” and flour.  It’s the seeds of the plant that are used to make amaranth flour.  What intrigued me was that it has been use as a staple crop in Mexico and Central America since long before the Spanish conquest.  Talk about getting back to your roots. (No pun intended)  Miller’s recipe gave me an introduction to using amaranth.

This recipe uses the seed instead of flour.   Toasting them for a few minutes in a skillet released a very earthy,  nutty, aroma reminiscent  of roasted corn .  I imagined that this very pleasant appetizing aroma that filled my kitchen has been experienced for many centuries as it was prepared for food and ceremony.  The smell continued as I simmered the seeds in water.  The dough uses a combination of cooked amaranth seed, bread flour,  whole wheat flour, and a smaller amount of cornmeal.  The flavor of amaranth is strong and distinctive  and so it may not be to your liking especially  if the flavor dominates the bread.  The flours also  provide plenty of gluten action.  I left the dough a little wet and sticky and placed the torpedo shapes in a couche for the final rise.

I spritzed them,  dusted with flour, and gave 3 deep slashes.  They looked and smelled very good coming out of the oven.  I patiently waited like a good baker for the loaves to cool down completely.   I enjoyed the rustic earthy flavor and texture very much.  The crumb is packed with flavor , the taste of the amaranth coming through strong but not too aggresively.  In my opinion, keeping  the dough a little on the wet and sticky side is a good move because after baking to 200 degrees and cooling the bread , the light to medium texture settles in just right.  The crust has a good hearty crunch .     An acknowlegement to Mark Miller for his recipe is in order.  I stored the bread in a paper bag overnight and found not much staling next day.   As I write this,  my morning French roast accompanied by  slices of  amaranth bread with honey, fig preserve , or butter is very tasty and satisfying.

I’ll be glad to write the recipe in a post if anyone is interested. Also check out the “Amaranth bread”  post dated April 30, 2012 for my recipe.

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