Friday, July 25, 2014

Breadhead Friday: Struan!

Struan is of Scottish descent, and according to master baker Peter Reinhart, "It was originally conceived of as a once-a-year harvest bread, incorporating whatever grains and seeds were available from the previous day's harvest."

At first glance, Reinhart's struan bread recipe looks like a major pain in the neck.  You need wheat or oat bran, coarse cornmeal, brown rice, and oats, only one of which I typically have in the pantry (the oats).  And you have to cook the brown rice.  Never having had good brown rice before, I put off making this bread for years because of it.

Loaves risen and ready for baking

But then I caught a wild hare and decided to go for it.  The Saveur recipe for brown rice actually turned out a very nice, tasty product that I'll make again.  There was a lot of weighing, measuring, mixing, and kneading, and as I shaped the cold struan dough after an evening's rise in the refrigerator, I had to ask myself: was all that worth it?

A bit dense.  Note the yellow flecks of cornmeal

Yes.  Yes it was.  It was delicious.  Now I know why so many people raved about it.  The cornmeal gave it a pleasant, subtle crunch, and the addition of the other grains added depth of flavor without making it bitter.  Obviously I'll have to work on the shaping a little more in future efforts, but overall I ended up with two really tasty sandwich loaves that were worth the work.  

You owe it to yourself to make a struan bread at least once in your life to see what the fuss is about.

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