Simple and easy navy bean bread [Vegetarian]

Jaymi's Notes: I'm not a great baker and the only success I've had with making breads so far is my pizza dough and my tortillas (both of which are awesome, by the way). But my attempts at making loaves of bread as good as what I could get at a bakery have failed miserably, and I've tried everything from basic baguettes to sourdough. So I wasn't very confident going into this recipe. And that made the surprise all the more sweet when the loaves came out of the oven as perfect as if I were a pro!

The process is very simple -- no intimidating steps or warnings that you'll ruin the whole thing if you don't knead properly or have it rising at the perfect temperature. Any newbie to breads can make this recipe successfully. Coming out of the oven, the bread had a thin, delicately crunchy crust, and the hot fluffy inside with its mild, yeasty flavor was pure heaven (no, we couldn't wait for it to cool before we cut into it!!). The next day, the bread was still soft and fresh as I spread a couple slices with butter and honey at breakfast.

I changed just two things. I substituted bread flour for the whole wheat flour simply because I had bread flour in my cupboard and didn't want to buy more. I also omitted the chives. My only issue is that I forgot what it means when a recipe calls for three cups of flour -- it means a lot of bread! The recipe yields two large loaves so if you want less, either cut the recipe in half or have some friends over.

More on The Cooking Project.

© Jaymi Heimbuch
Kelly's Recipe:
Other than cooking something with vegetables you have grown yourself, I find that there is nothing quite as satisfying as making your own bread. I'm not really sure what it is, the process, the patience required, the time it takes, the kneading, the fantastic smell that wafts through the house, or just the sheer pleasure in eating it, but I love everything about it.

For most bread recipes, there isn't anything hard about it, it just usually requires a lot of rising time, so unless you work at home, it's a weekend project. This is a terrific bread with a wonderful texture from the beans. My daughter asked if we should freeze the second loaf, but honestly, it didn't last that long. It was a really tasty bread, and unlike most homemade breads, it stayed moist for days.

If you want, I'm sure you could use all whole wheat flour rather than a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose. I've given you the instructions to make it by hand, but if you want to use a stand mixer, that's fine too. Process it over a low speed until the dough comes together and then you can knead it briefly.

This recipe is from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Velvety Bean Bread

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 cups drained cooked or canned navy beans, at room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp chopped chives (optional)
About 2 cups all-purpose flour1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.2. Process the beans until smooth, and transfer to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the yeast mixture into the beans. Add the whole wheat flour and stir for 1 minute, always in one direction, to develop the dough. Sprinkle on the oil, salt and chives, if using, and stir in.© Jaymi Heimbuch3. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and stir in, then add another 1/2 cup and turn and stir to incorporate. Turn the dough out onto a surface floured with 1/2 cup or more all-purpose flour and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth.© Jaymi Heimbuch4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover tightly, and let rise for 3 hours, until almost doubled in volume. (The dough will weigh about 2 1/2 pounds.© Jaymi Heimbuch
© Jaymi Heimbuch5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Lightly butter two 8 by 4 inch bread pans. One at a time, flatten each piece of dough, then roll up into a cylinder, tuck the ends in, and pinch the seam to seal.© Jaymi Heimbuch6. Place seam side down in a loaf pan. Cover and let rise for 2 1/2 hours.© Jaymi Heimbuch
© Jaymi Heimbuch7. Preheat the oven to 400F. Fill a sprayer with water. Slash each loaf lengthwise, place in the oven, and bake for 5 minutes, spritzing the loaves several times with water. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are a rich brownn with a matte finish.© Jaymi Heimbuch8. Turn out of the pans and test for doneness. The bottoms of the loaves should sound hollow when tapped and the edges feel firm when pinched. Transfer to a rack, and let cool completely before slicing.© Jaymi Heimbuch

Tags: Cooking | The Cooking Project | Weekday Vegetarian

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