Baking My First Loaf: Celery Bread
Despite my initial skepticism and reluctance for this whole bread project, I was cheering on the little bread-to-be. It wasn’t off to a great start. After 18 hours of resting, the first dough was too wet and simply wouldn’t form into a ball. Throwing more flour at it didn’t really solve any problems. We still baked it to see what would happen. Well, it developed a brown crust. It was totally edible and smelled of soup when you put your nose right up to it, which I mean in the best way possible. But the loaf didn’t rise much and seemed like it should be a bit drier.
Okay, round two. We cut out the extra 5/8 cup of water to make way for a 1/2 cup of the cream of celery soup. Roasted celery was nice in the first bread experiment, but I like the clean, fresh taste of celery and wanted to get close to keeping some of that in the bread. The roasted celery root was left alone in its delicious roasty state. We ran out and got bread flour to use instead of all-purpose flour.
This time we also changed our method. We traded in Mark Bittman’s basic no-knead bread recipe for his speedy no-knead bread as a guide. This bread can rest, rise, and bake in the afternoon and still be on time for dinner.
Success! We made bread! And that was a first for me. (Everyone knows banana bread is really just cake).
Celery is the star of this bread, and you can see a few green flecks in the slices and the crust. I like to think that if celery were JLo, then the cream of celery soup and roasted celery root would be the back-up dancers. You with me? The soup and the root are still bringing in flavors of celery, but in slightly different ways. The soup is creamy and more complex from being simmered with potato, onions, and garlic. The roasted root adds texture and a more mellow version of celery. This makes the whole bread better in flavor, and tastes more like a celery bread than a few stalks of celery could alone.
The bread is soft, chewy, and incredibly satisfying. With my first homemade loaf, I wasn’t sure what to expect the next morning. The bread was still soft while the crust remained firm but not as tough after hanging out in plastic wrap overnight.
This would be good sandwich bread. Put jam on it. Give the bag of pita chips a break and dip this bread into hummus.
So why raisins and celery? Because originally Danny got the idea (for a Food 52 contest) to make a bread that was a riff on “ants on a log.” You know, celery stalks filled in with peanut butter and trails of raisins. And spreading peanut butter on a slice of this bread is a good idea, but the peanut butter can overpower the celery. Well, I’m not trying to trick any kids into eating a vegetable.
Instead, I’d enjoy a thick slice of this bread with soup. The leftover cream of celery soup is a soulmate-level match for this bread. I should also tell you that I thought celery soup would be boring. I was wrong. Very wrong. It’s creamy, potato-y, and will make you leave your soup bowl clean.
makes one loaf
- 1/3 cup celery, sliced
- 1/3 cup celery root, diced and roasted
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 packet (1/4 oz.) instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- a bit of oil
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup cream of celery soup
- 1/4 cup raisins
To roast the celery root, cut it into 1-cm cubes, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast at 425°F for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, mix flour, yeast, and salt. Add water, soup, and stir just until blended. Mix in the celery, celery root, and raisins. The dough should look shaggy.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 4 hours at warm room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly oiled cutting board. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest (and rise) for another 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 450°F right after wrapping the dough, giving the oven those 30 minutes to heat up. Put a dutch oven or 6- to 8-quart covered pot in the oven as it heats.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven when the dough is ready to go. Slide your hand under the dough and put it into the pot with the seam side up.
Cover the pot with its lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Give it another five or so minutes if it’s not as browned as you’d like it to be.
Cool loaf on a rack.
Eat it up!