Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lemon Basil Bread

I love the smell of fresh-baked bread. It invokes sweet memories of childhood and experiments have correlated experiencing the smell of fresh bread to being kinder to strangers. Scents can invoke memories and alter moods in unexpected ways and the scent of bread brings many people comfort.

I've been using this recipe for a couple years. Many homemade bread recipes require eggs or milk, but this is simpler. I've livened it up from the usual yeast-salt-flour combination and given it a kick of herbs and citrus. The oat flour can be replaced by whole wheat, but I recommend keeping the all-purpose flour as is so the bread does not become too dense for the fresh citrus flavor.

Lemon Basil Bread

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2-2 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (canola or another vegetable oil also works. Olive oil has too strong of a flavor for this bread).

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp of the sugar and the yeast in the water. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until bubbly.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of the oat flour, the lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, salt, the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar, and coconut oil.

Add the yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Add the remaining flour and stir well. The dough will be a little sticky.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until the size is approximately doubled. Punch the dough down. Place the dough in a greased loaf pan. Smooth the top and pat the dough to fill the corners. Cover the dough again and let it rise another 40 minutes, or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when the loaf sounds hollow when the crust is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool, then slice and serve with non-dairy butter.

Agave butter is great with this because the sweetness balances out the tartness of the lemon. Just mix 1 tsp of agave nectar into 2 Tbsp of non-dairy butter like Earth Balance.

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