Friday, March 8, 2013

Going Wild with Onions

 As I was sitting in my kitchen office, watching the lovely sunshine illuminate the utterly unlovely back lawn as revealed by melted snow, I felt the need of some uplifting flavor to keep up my Spring Awakening, and thought about making this bread from Brother Juniper.

 Wild Rice and Onion Bread is a treasure of a recipe. It's both comforting and crisp, with an aroma as it bakes that draws people into the kitchen, hungry looks on their faces. One slice is never enough. It's beyond tried and true-- I've shared it with friends, many places, and then watched my friends share it too. Easy but delicious, with a crisp crackly crust and a soulful flavor that needs no adornment.

 Rolls from this dough are wonderful, or a nice round loaf, decoratively slashed; but frankly I've taken to making long baguettes of it, in order to enjoy more of that savory crust! And the bread is gorgeous to see, speckled with grains that peek out from the crust. The savor and texture of the onion and rice make a for a fresh, hopeful almost-spring nosh.

WILD RICE AND ONION BREAD  from Brother Juniper's Bread Book--
                                                                       Slow Rise as Method and Metaphor, by Peter Reinhart

(Adapted slightly by Amvyn from the CLBB. Thanks, Amy!)

8 C unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour
1/3 C chopped dried onions or 1 C diced fresh onions
1/3 C brown sugar
2 Tbsp instant yeast or 2 1/2 dry active yeast, proofed in 4 Tbsp warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 C cooked & cooled wild rice blend
1/3 C buttermilk
1 1/2 C warm water

Mix all the dried ingredients, including the yeast and rice, in a bowl, then add the liquid ingredients, reserving a little water for later for adjustments during kneading. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10-12 minutes, or until dough is elastic, unified and tacky but not sticky.

Return dough to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and slip the bowl into a plastic bag. Put it in a warm spot. Allow between 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours for dough to rise/double.

Shape as desired, into 2 loaves or a loaf and rolls, place in greased pans, cover and let rise again, allowing 45-60 minutes for rising. Cut a star pattern in the top, or for rolls, brush with an egg wash made of 1 egg beaten with 1/2 C water. This is a good idea if making baguette, too.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven, for approximately 45 minutes-- rolls will take 12-15 minutes. These loaves are best if sprayed with cold water frequently during the first 10 minutes of baking to make the crust brittle. Cool thoroughly on wire racks before cutting. Makes 2 round loaves, or about medium 15 rolls.
 Serve with soup, or with sandwich makings, or on its own, though a glass of wine would be sooo happy sitting next to a slice of this bread.

 Keep those thoughts of Spring coming! Peace, Mari


  1. I seldom buy buttermilk anymore.. can I put a tablespoon of vinegar in "regular" milk and substitute that? I love onions and especially love bread. I want to try this next month when we're back in the States.

    1. @The Odd Essay--

      Absolutely. I've done that even in quick breads, where the chemical reaction is more or a tight balance. Here, you could use any kind of milk, dairy or non-dairy. Could even be yogurt, as long as you add that extra acid, as you've said. It helps the tanginess and the tenderness. Enjoy!