This week’s Adventures With Sourdough addition is particularly exciting, because I finally acquired a Dutch oven. Despite the jokes you have to put up with when you talk about Dutch oven cooking, I can now attest that Dutch ovens—or other clay bakers—are absolutely essential for crusty sourdough bread.Dutch ovens originated in the Netherlands during the late 1600s. In the early 1700s, British inventor Abraham Darby observed the Dutch system of producing these smooth-walled cooking vessels with dry sand, patented a similar procedure, and produced Dutch ovens for Great Britain and the American colonies. Dutch ovens have always been popular in the U.S. because of its versatility and durability. Besides baking, Dutch ovens can be used for boiling, frying, roasting, and for casseroles. They can be used on a stove, in an oven, and over a campfire. George Washington’s wife was fond of Dutch oven cooking, Lewis and Clark carried one on their famous expedition, and campers and cowboys have used them for centuries.
For baking, the Dutch oven creates the perfect closed vessel humidity for crispy, crusty sourdough bread. This week, I made the whole-wheat sourdough bread in first addition of Adventures With Sourdough. This time, however, instead of baking dense, doughy bread, I was able to get a loaf with a crusty crust and a light, fluffy inside. Following the instructions from Breadtopia, I preheated the Dutch oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. I then placed the bread in the Dutch oven and baked it at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Finally, I removed the lid, lowered the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and baked the bread uncovered for 15 minutes. Here is a picture of the bread:
Another great discovery I made this week in the realm of vegan baking is the advantages of using soft tofu in dessert recipes. Here’s the vegan brownie recipe I adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
Fudgy Vegan Brownies
3 oz. firm silken tofu
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable oil
½ cup agave nectar
1 cup flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Puree the tofu, nondairy milk, and oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in agave.
Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Batter will be very thick.
Spread batter into baking pan and bake for 35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy (possibly with some soy ice cream!)!