It takes a special person to break free from the shackles of conformity our society and culture places on each and every one of us. From parents to politicians, preschool to retirement, we are confined to norms, and defined by tradition. Every so often somebody awakens from this utopian dream, only to utter one simple, yet powerful word …”WHY?”
Why do we do the things we do? Prosperous or stagnant? Purposeful or meaningless? Healthy or sickly?
These are the questions that remove us from the herd and give us some direction and introspect of the world in which we live. From there we can debate the virtues of war and peace, religion, or the sanctity of marriage, but this is a food blog not a social reform forum. Here we are talking about veganism.
From Crab (1621-1680) to Watson (1910-2005), people throughout time have stopped to question the validity of particular human actions. And in doing so, they have led a following of others who share in that same sentiment.
This post is in respect to those who have stepped away from industrial and corporate farming; have changed their views on animal welfare, and have adopted a lifestyle that is as nutritionally rewarding as it is socially challenging. By and by, more restaurants and grocery stores are offering more to those with dietary restrictions, be it vegan, celiac disease, crohn’s disease, or diabetes. But whether by choice or by force, a process as simple as eating can become overly challenging and down right difficult.
On a personal note, I am not a vegan or vegetarian, nor am I afflicted by any chronic condition or allergy. I do however appreciate the commitment of others who choose a lifestyle that doesn’t fit snugly into the norm of society, or the struggle of those thrown into a situation where their lives depend on making appropriate choices. I had been a vegan for some years and I do understand the lifestyle, albeit before there were as many food options as there are now, or an online community among vegans. I had my own reasons for severing ties with veganism, but I still remain open-minded and commend anyone with a desire and discipline to pursue the philosophy.
The truth is, my passion lies in food. Whether I’m cooking for a troop of carnivorous lumberjacks, or a temple of vegan monks, I look at food as love and treat it with the respect it deserves.
For this post, I’ve chosen a recipe that predates all other recipes and goes back in time before we, as a human race, industrialized every aspect of our existence. Before we sprayed our crops with poisons, exploited people and depleted our resources. Before markets, money or currency. I’m talking about a recipe that goes back to 10,000BC – Bread.
Bread in some form or another has been the lifeline for the whole of our civilization. And as we progress and our civilization evolves, bread is still that very staple that also changes with time.
As Part 1 of my salute to veganism, I share with you my own inspired recipe for 100% vegan bread that I call Alpine Bread. And sticking strictly with the philosophy of veganism, all ingredients are organic and/or fair trade. Unfortunately, this is not a gluten-free recipe.
This multigrain, seed-filled bread has a deep rich and crunchy exterior, with a soft moist crumb. It’s versatility allows you to shape it into a classic loaf, dinner rolls, or any other shape your heart desires. Here I’ve done an artisanal style twisted loaf. How you present it is up to you.
- 2 cups of warm water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2½ cup strong bread flour + extra for dusting
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of spelt flour
- 3/4 cup mixed seeds, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
- Assorted seeds for garnish
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ cup cool water
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (see Step #14)
1.Place 1/4 cup each of flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds in a bowl. Cover with water and let sit overnight at room temperature. Drain the water before using.
2.In a large mixing bowl, add water, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve, then sprinkle yeast over the surface. Rest for 5 minutes.
3.Measure out flour and a second bowl.
4.Add oil and mixed seeds to yeast mixture and stir.
5.If using a dough hook, turn on low speed and gradually add all the flour. If kneading by hand, add flour slowly, mixing well before each addition.
6.When the flour is fully incorporated, knead by hook on medium speed for 10 minutes. Or knead by hand for 15 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but should not stick to your fingers when you let go. If so, knead another couple teaspoons of flour into the dough.
7.Place dough in clean bowl and let rise for 2 hours in a warm lit place.
8.Punch down, knead for another 2 or 3 minutes and let rise for 90 minutes.
9.Punch down and scrape out of bowl. Cut in half and shape into 2 loaves. For freestyle loaves, roll into fat short logs. Starting at one end, twist, working your way down the log. However, be careful not to twist so much that the dough rips, otherwise you will damage the gluten structures causing the bread to proof unevenly.
10.Preheat oven to 215. While waiting for the oven, prepare the starch wash.
11.In a small cup, combine 1 tsp of cornstarch, 1 tsp olive oil, and 1/4 cup of cool water. Mix well.*
12.Lightly brush starch over the top of the loaves.
13.Bake for 35 minutes.
14.Add a tablespoon of organic maple syrup to the remaining starch wash. Take the bread out of the oven and brush with maple/starch mixture and add the flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Bake for another 10 minutes.
15.Remove bread from oven and let cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into.
NOTE* For non-vegan bread, omit step #11 and beat one egg with 1 tbsp of water. Brush egg wash over bread and sprinkle flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds before baking. Also, skip Step #14.
And there you have it, a rustic artisanal bread that pairs perfectly with a warm bowl of chili with vegan andouille sausage.
For that recipe, click on the link for A Salute to Veganism Part 2.