Yeast-raised Spinach Bread

Just in time for St. Patrrick’s day, a bread I made last year for my grandson’s birthday dinner. He had asked for his favorite take out, from Pho Thai, a Vietnamese restaurant here in town that has wonderful pho and lots of other dishes we all love.

That was the main part of the meal, along with one of his mother’s typically spectacular cakes, and I would be bringing someting to honor the Irish part of the holiday.

I have never been a fan of soda bread, and I thought of green cole slaw (my favorite cole slaw found here,
with spinach chopped in to turn it much more emerald green). But then, knowing that my grandsons all are great fans of homemade yeast bread, I decided to try out making a spinach bread, and it was readily consumed–real fusion cooking I guess.

Now, a year later, who knew what changes we’d be seeing with that restaurant and so many more closed and Soren’s birthday party postponed for who know how long. So if you are confined to the kitchen and want to try out something different and, yes, a day late, something for this “luck o’ the Irish” day seemed appropriate. Maybe it’s something you could make for April Fool’s Day too if you like to do some fun menus on that day too. Who knows, by then we may well have advanced cases of cabin fever and will long or some fun.

Oh, and the nice thing about this is that it really tastes good!

Note that the amount of spinach is given in ounces. As with almost any yeast bread, there is a lot of “forgiveness” in what you include, if you are trying to be precise in measurements, trying to get an exact number of cups of fresh spinach is almost impossible. How much do you pack it down? Do you measure it before or after chopping? Are you using baby spinach or a bunch of “garden spinach?”

Spinach Bread

10 oz. fresh spinach (i(See NOTE for substituting frozen chopped spinach)
2 cups water
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry yeast (one packet)
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
1/2 cup diced orange bell pepper (optional)
1 cup oatmeal
approximately 5 to 6 cups all purpose or bread flour

1.  Heat the water until almost boiling–about 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave. Put the spinach in the bowl of a processor with the chopping blade along with the oil, sugar, garlic powder, and black pepper.

2.  Pour the hot water over the spinach mixture and process until the spinach is finely and evenly chopped.

3.  Unless you have a very large processor, you will need to pour the spinach mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the oatmeal, the chopped peppers, and about 1 cup of flour. Stir well. When the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, stir in the yeast and then another cup or so of flour; Beat well and set aside tp raise for about an hour, until bubbly and almost doubled.

4.  Stir in more flour a cup at a time, until the dough is firm enough to knead. Then turn out on to a floured board or counter and knead for a few minutes until satiny.

Place back in the bowl and oil lightly and cover with a floured towel. Put in a warm place for an hour or so until doubled in bulk.*

5.  Divide the dough into two or three evenly sized portions, and shape into loaf shapes. Place the loaves on oiled baking sheets and slash the tops lightly. Set aside to raise another 40 minutes or so, until again doubled.

6.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops is a deep golden brown. You can also lift a loaf off the sheet and check to be sure that the bottom is also well-browned. Remove the loaves from the oven and place on cooling racks. While still very hot, brush with butter.
* If desired, you can “punch down” the dough one or two times and allow to raise until doubled again each time. In this way, the bread can meet your schedule rather than its own!