This time of year has always been about harvest time for me. Our community garden is yielding an abundance of food right now and we have been lucky enough to harvest everything you see below and more, like onions, leeks, potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes, lettuce and spinach. We are still waiting for some things in the garden to be ready like corn, carrots and kale and some things have passed us by already but the abundance of fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready to be picked in the month of September always has me excited. I have often had to coincide the start of a new school year with harvest time but this year it is my daughter Anna who is starting at a new Montessori preschool this month and I am anxiously looking forward to all the days of pickling, canning, freezing and baking that are ahead.
What to do with all the lovely chives growing in your herb garden or on your balcony this time of year… Well, why not make an extremely tasty whole grain bread with sour cream and chives in the dough, of course! I’ve been wanting to make spelt bread for a while now, ever since I picked up a bag of organic, whole grain spelt about a month ago. My intention was to make flour with the hard spelt grains by grinding them and then sifting and grinding again several times until I had a semi-fine flour that I could bake with. This took lots of effort as I only have a small grinder with a scant 1/4 cup capacity! The second time I made this bread I bought already ground organic spelt flour and really aside from all the effort in the milling process, in my opinion, there was little difference in the finished product. So if you like to mill your own flour then go to town, but in the future I think I’ll stick to buying mine already ground, at least until I get myself a good quality flour mill to do all the work for me!
Spelt Bread With Sour Cream and Chives
2 1/2+ cups of Spelt Flour
2 1/2+ cups of Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
2 packages of instant Yeast (about 1 1/2 Tbs)
1 cup of chopped Chives
1 cup of Sour Cream (or Creme Fraiche)
1 cup of warm Water
In a small bowl mix 1 cup of warm water, salt and yeast and set aside. In another larger bowl add the flours (a total of three cups, you may need to add more later) and mix in the chopped chives. Add the yeast mixture along with the sour cream or creme fraiche, whichever you’re using, and mix everything together with a big spoon. If the dough seems too dry add a tablespoon or more of water, if it’s really sticky that’s ok you can always add more flour later while you’re kneading the dough.
Lightly flour a clean surface and knead the dough for at least five and up to ten minutes until a smooth and elastic dough ball forms, adding flour sparingly as you go if you need to. Transfer the ball of dough to a clean and oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and put it in a warm place to rise for at least an hour. Once the dough has doubled in size you can punch it down, return it to a lightly floured surface and knead again briefly until smooth. Form the dough into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can let the dough rise in a bread form if you have one or you can do what I do and roll up two tea towels and put them around the sides of the loaf to prevent it from spreading out too much on the pan while rising. Sprinkle the top with flour, cover with a towel and let rise again for about half an hour while the oven is preheating.
Preheat the oven to 450° F (230°C) and put an oven safe dish with at least an inch of water in it on the bottom rack of the oven. Once the oven has preheated the dough should have risen a second time. Cut two, half inch deep gashes along the top of the loaf with a wet knife and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes carefully remove the dish with water from the oven (be super careful the water and pan will be extremely hot!) Take the loaf off the baking tray and transfer to the rack to bake for an additional 5 or so minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Enjoy warm from the oven or the next day it’s equally as good toasted too!