Monday, March 19, 2012

Fitness Progression & Bread Rising

This has been quite an interesting albeit exhausting day, and I’d thought I’d share a few things before I went to bed. Besides successfully baking a "dark" version of Irish Soda Bread, I have also modified my fitness regimen. Running and rock climbing each three times a week has really brought a positive change in my physique. When the boyfriend visited over the weekend, he (and others) couldn’t help but notice my legs getting firmer. When we went rock climbing with his brother at the SportRock in Sterling, I successfully completed trails higher up and harder than the ones in Alexandria, trails I’d never climbed before.

At some point, however, I felt that something was missing in my routine, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I mean, I had the upper-body workout with the bouldering and the aerobic/lower-body work out with running, so what else was there? For many months, Cheryl had been asking whether or not I’d considered yoga, mostly for stress relief but also for days I didn’t feel like running or rock climbing. Mama Dazz was also flabbergasted by my hesitation, because I took Kundalini Yoga in college and loved it. After four days of yoga at least once a day (each only being a couple of minutes long), I’ve noticed significant change in my arm strength, my balance, my breathing, and my focus. Even better, my dear readers, is that I’m sleeping and sleeping well.


After adding yoga, my stress level has decreased and I’m not randomly hungry throughout the day. And when I do eat, I don’t have the desire to continue eating after I am full. I can now look at remnants on a plate and save it for a later time. It’s only been four days, but I’m rather happy with the progress I am making.

Now, about the recipe.

On Saturday I attempted to make Irish soda bread for that night’s family hullabaloo, but impatience and uncertainty got the better of me and I took it out too soon. Part of it had not finished baking and it fell apart. This is one of the few recipes I actually used a mix (part of it was King Arthur’s all-purpose gf flour mix and another was a various combinations of flours I pre-made), but I thought the taste was that of soda bread. And a note to all of you if you don’t have buttermilk or yogurt on hand, goat milk works very well for it.

Determined, I decided to try a different recipe for Irish soda bread from Williams-Sonoma's Cooking at Home (2010, p. 430), one of my go-to cookbooks these days. I was inspired to make the “dark” or brown version of Irish soda bread, something with a molasses color and flavor. Naturally, I looked to teff and I was ecstatic of its success.

This bread can be made the night before, but if you are going from fridge to the oven, you need to add ten minutes on your cooking time (I found it easier to mold it in the desired shape, plus lightly carve a small cross on top for ultimate leavening… and to let “little people” out). If not, simply baking it at 425ºF for 30 - 35 minutes as the cookbook recommends. Also, this is the halved version of the recipe, and it still turned out wonderfully. To double, add an additional gram to the oats (45 g), flaxseed meal (15 g), and yogurt (375 g).

Brown Irish Soda Bread

180 g Teff flour
22 g CGF rolled oats
7 g Flaxseed meal
3/4 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
30 g Unsalted butter, chilled
187 g Greek yogurt, full fat

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
In a food processor, pulse the teff flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking soda, and salt until just combine.
Cut the butter into eight pieces and scatter throughout the dry ingredients.
Press the “pulse” button again ten consecutive times until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Add the yogurt and blend the ingredients as evenly as possible, until it forms a ball.
Chill covered up to thirty minutes or overnight, and then turn out the dough with your floured hands onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper you intend on using. (The dough should be soft to the touch).
Flatten the ball into a 7-inch dome and, using a sharp knife, cut a shallow “X” from one side of the loaf to the other.
Bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until there is no give on the crust in the center.
Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool slightly, then serve warm.

Makes 1 loaf. Serves 4.

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