Recipe from Vegetarian Heartland: Recipes for Life’s Adventures ©Shelly Westerhausen, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books. Available for pre-order here.
- One 1¼ oz packet active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1½ cups warm water (110°F to 115°F / 43°C to 45°C)
- ½ cup unsweetened non dairy milk (sub whole milk)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 5 tablespoons vegan buttery spread, melted (sub unsalted butter)
- 2½ cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
- ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- ¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped
- In a large bowl stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, honey and 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add both flours, the salt, and 1 cup of the oats and stir together with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead in the apricots, almonds, cherries and pumpkin seeds until the dough is slightly elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough, divide it into two equal pieces, and form it into balls. Flour a baking sheet and place the dough balls on the baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until almost doubled again, about 30 minutes more.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Brush the loaves with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter and scatter 1 tablespoon oats over each loaf.
- Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into each center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Let cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
There are days when food feels like a chore – deliberate and hard. You can experience it in your sigh when you open the fridge and don’t know what to eat. You can feel it in your lackluster work lunch. It appears on your mile long grocery list. You hear it in your kid’s questions: What’s for dinner? Mom, I’m hungry. Food can feel heavy.
But there are days where food can be therapy. It can mend your broken heart. It can make you strong. It can be your companion on a long car ride – sun beating down, music blasting, sunroof open. It can bring people together around a campfire – laughing, drinking in the summer air, content to just be. This is the kind of food that Shelly makes. This is the kind of food that spans every page of Vegetarian Heartland.
Bread is one of those foods I considered a chore. It took too much time and effort, plus there was the risk of messing it up. So I stayed scared until I met a friend this year who took the time to show me how easy it was to make. I watched as it took form and turned golden brown inside that tiny, cramped New York apartment. And I thought, if he can make bread – so can I. Months later I traveled to Greece and watched as Grecian men kneaded dough into loaves. It was then I realized making bread is so much more than a chore, it’s a history. It’s a tradition. It’s a primal, historical dance of human nature.
Since I didn’t have a bread recipe on my site and Shelly had this health-ish Whole-Wheat Muesli Bread in her book, I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to have a real, authentic bread experience in my kitchen and on this blog. Let me assure you, bread making is more than baking. It’s therapy. It’s a moving meditation. It’s a way to feel extremely rooted in your humanness. I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend slathering your bread with Salted Maple Pecan Butter from Shelly’s book (you’ll have to buy the book to get that recipe.) It’s like homemade heaven in your mouth.
I wish I had had Shelly’s book when I was road tripping from LA to Atlanta a few years back. The book, after all, has a whole section for road trip food. It also has sections for camping and holidays and picnics and brunch and farmer’s markets and everything good about this life. Vegetarian Ventures is a blog for amazingly vibrant vegetarian food, and this new book – Vegetarian Heartland – feels like those ecstatic moments when food reminds us how alive we are and the human spirt soars. xoxo