Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Steamed Potato Harvest Bread

These last days of March are beginning to be long and sunny--and I'm not exactly a sun person. I like colder climates; I love rain and dark skies. Some people associate dark skies with gloom, but not me. I'm happiest when it's cold and there's a bit of a drizzle. This warm disposition makes me spend my day in activity. I guess that's an advantage. And on this rather very sunny day, I was reading King Arthur's Cookbook and I chanced upon this recipe called Steamed Harvest Bread. How summer-y.

I'm intrigued with steaming breads and steamed breads. Not the siopao buns most commonly sold here in the Philippines. I'm talking about the method people centuries ago used to make their breads, before ovens became common. The most read about steamed bread is probably the Boston Brown Bread. And even that I haven't tried. But for the love of harvest and the sun, I was propelled into making this bread.
I didn't have carrots or pumpkin available, so I substituted the next best thing, mashed potatoes. And I'm glad I did. There were tiny chunks of potatoes present in the finished bread. It not only added extra moisture and texture, but also made the taste of potato more evident even with all the presence of spices. Feel free to omit the spice, by the way. Or use your own preferred blend. This bread is pretty versatile; It can be steamed longer than is necessary, without damaging the bread.
Steamed Harvest Bread
1 1/2 C sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t each cinnamon, ginger and cloves
1 C yogurt, buttermilk or sour milk
3 eggs
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C potato, pumpkin, carrot, OR
2 C grated raw carrot, chopped apple
1. Mix dry ingredients together.
2. In another bowl, mix yogurt, eggs, sugar, vegetable or fruit. Blend this mixture into the dry ingredients.
3. Place the batter in 2 greased, one-pound coffee cans or 1 two-pound pudding mold, filling them about two-thirds full. Cover with greased foil and secure with a rubber band.
4. Place the cans/mold in a kettle filled with boiling water about two-thirds full. Lower heat to simmer and steam for 2 hours or more.
I only made half a recipe ( 1 egg plus 1 egg white) and placed the batter in a greased 4" round baking pan. It baked in only an hour. The texture was soft and moist, as contributed by the potatoes. And even if there wasn't any oil in the batter, it tasted substantially rich. One bite opened up a lot of attitude, there was the nutty goodness of the whole wheat kernels, the moist quickbread-like richness and the occasional soft chunks of potatoes.
This is a meal in itself, filling and full of nutrients, with minimal fat and cholesterol. A good reason enough to love the sun for the harvest.

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