28 November 2011

Rye, Spelt, Oatmeal...Oh My!

A cookbook came out last year. Oh right, you say, cookbooks come out All The Time. But there are several kinds of cookbooks:

  • Pretty ones with lovely pictures, that no one ever uses in the kitchen.
  • Encyclopedic ones, like The Joy of Cooking - essential and useful, but not likely to make your heart sing.
  • Personal ones that you want to take to bed with you, like Nigel Slater's.
  • Niche ones, that tell you how to doctor cake mix or how to be a socialite.

Once in a while, though, you find one that pushes all the buttons - personal, useful, pretty - and you find yourself blown away by the extraordinary recipes, one after another.

For the past year, that spot's been filled - for me - by Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain. It's a book on baking with whole grain flours, divided into chapters by grain. It's not earthy-crunchy to the point of leaden hockey pucks - there's plenty of leavening, enough plain white flour for lightness, and lots of butter. Everything I've tried has been fabulous, from the crumble bars with rye flour and oatmeal, to the mind-blowing zucchini bread with basil and mint. Right now, I've got a batch of her oatmeal bread rising on the counter. I bought spelt at the Greenmarket one day, and used it to make an amazing pie crust, brittle and flaky. And the granola! I've been making great granola for years, but Boyce's technique, with a boiled syrup of honey/brown sugar/butter, makes for a glossier, crunchier product.

It's totally the wrong time of year for zucchini bread, at least here in the Northeast, but save it until next summer when your garden or your farm stand is overrun with zucchini, basil and mint. And put the book on your Christmas list. You'll be happy you did.

ZUCCHINI BREAD (from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain)

2 T. chopped fresh basil
1 T. chopped fresh mint
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 lb zucchini (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt

Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly butter a standard bread loaf pan, or three mini loaf pans.

Melt the stick of butter. Add herbs and let them steep while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Add yogurt and egg, and whisk together.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate large mixing bowl.

Scrape the butter/herbs into the zucchini mixture and stir together. Pour the zucchini mixture into the dry ingredients and fold gently until combined. Scrape the batter into your prepared loaf pan(s).

Bake for 60-70 minutes if using a large loaf pan - or about 30 minutes in mini loaf pans. A skewer inserted into the center of the loaf should come out clean.

Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.

Wrapped tightly in plastic, it can be kept up to 3 days, getting better the next day as the flavors have some time to meld together.


Unknown said...

Nice. I'm always looking for bread alts. Your z bread is making my mouth water. Oh look, Lunch Time!

leanne said...

Completely intrigued by the basil and mint. I've been using a zucchini-hazelnut bread recipe that I found in the NY Times Sunday magazine a while back -- the bread makes fantastic french toast, too. But I'm going to have to try this version.