January 9, 2009

Spinach and Feta cheese bread

Spinach and Feta cheese bread is my contribution to "Bread Baking day #16" which is being hosted by Temperance of "High on the Hog" blog, with a theme of Bread with cheese. Thanks for hosting the first bread event for 2009, Temperance and my thanks to Zorra for starting this event. I am sure you all will enjoy this event as much as I did baking this bread! :))

When my kitchen was being remodeled last December, I couldn't cook at all for 5 weeks and that is the first time I just sat idle not being able to cook at all in 22 yrs after I got married! Did I enjoy the freedom? Not at all!! I just missed the cooking, baking and the aromas so much. When the construction was done, first thing I wanted to do is to bake a good bread in my brand new convection oven. I went on searching for a good bread recipe and I found this spinach-Feta bread recipe in a website which reminded me of Greek Spanakopita. Spinach, Rye and Feta sounded perfect for me and here it is, my first bread baked in my brand new kitchen and oven! What a perfect bread baking with cheese event to show it off too! :)

I tried this wonderful bread recipe from this beautiful cooking bread classes site. Check this out for step by step pictures. I have typed the bread recipe for my future reference here. My sincere thanks to this wonderful site for educating us all with such a clear cut instructions and for this super Spinach healthy and wonderful tasty, slightly tangy Feta bread.

Spinach-Feta cheese bread:
I followed the recipe mostly as it is except few changes and I also used the frozen Spinach instead of fresh Spinach. I didn't have the fresh greens at hand at the time but I don't think it took away much in the taste. Do use fresh Spinach if you can.

Spinach and Feta Bread 1

You need to do this the night before baking; Mix all these, cover and let it ferment overnight:
3/4 cup bread flour,
1/2 cup lukewarm water,
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast.

Next morning, gather all these in one place before you start the dough:
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or frozen, thawed and squeezed dry spinach,
1 tsp or butter to saute the Spinach,
Pinch of salt.

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water,
1/2 cup dark rye,
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour,
1/2 tsp instant yeast,
1 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp crushed pepper or dry chilli flakes,
2 cups bread flour,1 cup crumbled feta cheese.

First step:
Heat 1 tsp oil or butter in a pan, add salt, Spinach and saute until wilted and there is no liquid left. I microwaved the thawed spinach until the water evaporated, checking it often taking care not to burn the greens. Take it out, separate the clumps if any and let it cool.
1. Take a big bowl (or if you are using the KitchenAid to knead like I did, use that bowl),add "night before" fermented mix and lukewarm water, mix gently.
2. Add salt, pepper or chilli flakes, yeast, and both Rye and whole wheat flour, mix again. Leave it for 5-10 mins to rise a bit.
3. Add the bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you use all the flour until you get a very slightly sticky dough. You might need more or less bread flour than 2 cups, use your judgment. Knead well by hand or in the machine until you get a good smooth dough. Cover and let it rest for 5 mins.
4. Now, add spinach and Feta cheese on the dough, fold and knead gently until evenly mixed with the dough. In the machine, add spinach first, let it mix gently on low speed. Once well mixed, add Feta and mix on the lowest speed just until mixed.
5. Brush some oil on the dough, cover and let it rise and double in a warm place or warm oven for about 2hrs. Divide into two and make round dough. Place on the baking sheet, brush some flour on the top. Cover with a towel and let them rise again for an hour.

Preheat the oven at 400F (Yes, I used 25F less than what the recipe says).
Once the oven is heated, uncover the dough and place the sheet inside. Since mine is a brand new Convection oven, I didn't use the water as it says at the cooking bread site but do follow that method if you like. Bake these bread loaves for 30-40mins or until they sound hollow when tapped at the bottom of the bread.
Again, use your judgment according to your own oven, times and temperature may vary. Do not overbake. I also used a double layered insulated cookie sheet to bake these bread, which doesn't give you a very dark bottom. You could use Pizza stone to bake the loaves and you could place a pan with water on the bottom rack for steam while baking. It's up to you.

I gave the second loaf to my neighbor who is a breast cancer survivor. She was so happy to receive such a healthy and tasty bread. However, as soon as she saw the bread, she was excited thinking that I brought her a Indian style bread but was equally happy to know that it had Greek ingredients instead! :D

Slice 1

So, that's it for today. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. We are looking forward to see the movie "Gran Torino"tomorrow! :))


Trupti said...

What a wonderful Bread Asha.

Pavithra Kodical said...

Ohh Asha you are back..You are my inspiration to cook..When i came to US last year i had no idea about cooking..Thats when your blog came to my rescue..I wanted to impress my husband as i was newly wed :)Thank you so much..Happy New Year..

sunita said...

What a perfect loaf asha...I have been thinking of this combintion for quite some time...I have rye flour at hand...will try it..thanks :-)

Cham said...

That is tasty bread to share with your neighb... The green in the bread is very inviting and unusual too...

Finla said...

Wow the bread look so yummy delicious.
I always tend to make plain bread or sweet bread, i must try to make once a savoury bread.
Enjoy the weeken and enjoy the movie.
We are not doing anything special as Hans will be really busy working at home as one of his new concert with symphony orchestra is prepiering in the begning of March.

FH said...

Thanks Trupti, still thinking about Persimmon! :)

Pavithra, thank you. Enjoy my blogs and if you have any q's, feel free to ask. If I know, I will surely help. have a wonderful 2009! :))

It was so yummy Sunita. Need a bit of prep work day before but worth the effort. Do try! :))

FH said...

Cham, she is a good neighbor, went thru' Chemo therapy and all for a year and she has three young sons as well. Her oldest is Tushar's buddy, he spends every weekend here playing Guitar hero. I am thinking of making a Indian masala bread and give it to her next! :))

F, this bread is like a meal itself. Just need some cream cheese or few slices of Ham, it's yummy sliced and toasted. Hope you try.
Arvind is on call this weekend, still I think his assistants can over for 2 hrs or so. I was waiting to see this movie since it's released. Golden Globe awards are on Sunday, waiting if "Slum Dog M" will win! :))

Meeta K. Wolff said...

good to see you back asha! this bread sound just delicious. love the spinach feta twist!

FH said...

Thanks, good to be back.
This bread taste great Meeta, toasted slices are delicious for sandwiches. Happy new year.

Have a fun weekend! :))

DK said...

It takes a person coming back from a long break to send an entry to an "event", which a person supposedly active in the arena who blissfully oblivious, to get to know!! umm! Shows that "Zen" is practised way better by u than me!

As for your "I am funny n witty" comment - oh well what can I say - I was born that way ;-) but it takes one to know the other - me thinks :)

Eating pongal I sure do! and it shows in all the wrong places if u know what i mean! :) :) and from now u cooking spinach and feta's together is not going to help either! I am not complaining though! :) May be my weighing machine will - no wonmder it has been shunned to a dark corner in my bathroom :) :) Keep evil at bay I always say :)


anudivya said...

That looks beautiful! I am totally into bread making these days (there is one in the oven right now) and I shall try to make this.
Gosh, I am gonna die from bread overdose!

FH said...

DK, your comments always makes me smile, another good one girl. I was about to sign off, then got this gem!Great way to start the weekend :D

I baked this in Dec, was in the draft waiting to be posted, glad they chose bread with cheese, what a timing!!

I gave my w machine to Good Will long time ago, no use for me you see! I am already a goner...kaput..finito.. HeHe!!

I say it again, you should be writing a book, you have a gift. Hugs to you too, go have fun while I gather my Thai ingredients! :))

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

that's a yummy yummy loaf of bread. nothing like homemade bread.

i can't believe some stranger visited ur house without u being present. hahah.

Rathna said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Asha and for the wonderful comments. I never tried my hands on baking bread yet. I'll start with yours as spinach and feta are my favorite ingredients.
Have a wonderful year ahead. Happy 2009. :-)

Adlak's tiny world said...

First time here Asha. Nice blog with so many vareities...

happy New Year to u. yr green combined Feta brd is awesome and inviting dear.

sra said...

So you're back to cooking & baking with a vengeance, huh?

FH said...

Anu, it's true that baking is addictive and gets out of control sometimes for me! :D
I used to bake lot of cakes but now I am into bread, both are evil for waistline!:P

Mahima, you know what happens to curious cats? They always get stuck in the chimney or something! Haha! Yeah, that's why I decided to keep personal things and photos to myself now, can't risk it again. Have a fun weekend! :)

FH said...

You are welcome Rathna, always a pleasure. There are so many new bloggers now since I stopped blogging, I have to get familiarized again!:))

Thank you Adlak, spinach and feta go together famously, even kids love the bread and healthy for them too. Have a fun weekend! :))

Hi sra, yup! With all the brand new appliances, it's pleasure now.So much pleasure that I even got a burn on my arm trying get the dough in the oven. One more reminder of my super prowess in the kitchen! hahaha!!

Unknown said...

nice color very intresting bread recipe thanks for sharing it

CurryLeaf said...

Perfect Bread,I too love the spinach and feta combo-surely spanakopita style.Love the post and the pic.Very inviting.

FH said...

Thanks to both of you, Rekha and curry leaf.It's a gorgeous bread to look at and to taste.Hope you try too! :))

krystyna said...

This bread looks very yummy and very healthy. I must try.
Bread from store is not good and not healthy. It is better to have own bread.

Thank you so much, Asha!
Great job!

But "Cooking bread classroom site" - this link not working. Maybe only for me.

Purnima said...

Asha..spinach bread ...u will b POPEYE this new year! :D I read, it was baked n drafted in Dec..:) All the same glad to see ur post after what flew away (5 months!:D) Its eerie feeling to hv cyber smart thieves targetting homes after going thru stats/snaps/ personal details..its advisable all people stay safe n keep details to themselves n not put up on net for security reasons! I agree with you! (So does this mean new kitchen has tata-goodbyed crockeries to BARN? :)

FH said...

Home baked bread is always tastes better, you are right and we know what goes in there when we bake ourselves! I corrected that link, it wasn't working indeed, thanks K!:))

Hi Purni, yes! As soon as they are done with the kitchen, I couldn't wait to bake!:D
They were still working in the living room floor but I baked this anyway, we had to leave vacation soon after. It came so well, I will bake this again with some other combo!Yes, most of my dishes are still in the cabin and the garage!:)
Nope, I will be posting foodie goodies as usual regardless what some think or do, but will talk less about personal stuff, so they don't get too much info about our personal life and get all riled up! :P

Sum Raj said...

wooo...wonderful and i must say its a killer one...nice crust on the outside and attractive colour..

FH said...

Saves me from killing myself from other fatty breads I eat, Suma! Hahaha!! Having a relaxing Sunday? Arvind is on call, so I got some time. Waiting for the golden globe awards to start, Slumdog will win some!:))

Uj said...

Perfect Loaf...I wish I could bake some bread! but some how I am not comfortable with the smell of yeast! Got to do something with that..I really feel that the one's who can bake have magic in their hands! Looks great
We just watched Slumdog M yesterday.. The slum looks somewhat like what Gregory David has described in his book Shantaram.. I wish they would improve those area's and make it a better place for people to live in..

KonkaniBlogger said...

Wow, what a great start at Aroma!! This bread looks too good, has some good stuff goin in it too..I feel like trying this, will have to get the ingredients first though..Have never used rye flour before..

Raaga said...

looks so nice :-) I wish I could bake bread like you do. :-)

Rachel said...

Happy New Year to you and your family!
Perfect ingredients that could get anyone crave for the gorgeous loaf...

FH said...

UJ, thanks girl. Yeah, yeast smell could use some getting used to, once you do, you will love it. Try once! :)
Slumdog sweeped the floor y'day. True! As I wrote in FH post, it should be illegal for citizens to live like THAT in any country, pretty sad. Do you know movie was adopted from a Indian book called "Q and A"? I want to buy it now.

Maya, hope you try. Skip the Rye if you don't have it and add wheat flour or plain flour, doesn't matter! :))

FH said...

Raaga, you do bake fine!! Look at all the goodies you bake there in India, that's a great effort and you can bake as good as me. Hugs to you. Have a great week, I just started my Monday! :))

Thanks Rachel, a good homemade bread is always a pleasure to have. Do try if you can. Have a wonderful start of the week! :))

Cindy said...

I cannot wait to try this one. I have a Greek friend who will be so excited when I share. As always, thanks for your great recipes.

Unknown said...

bread with spinach looks wonderful..

FH said...

You are welcome Cindy! I just sent you the pics too, do bake and gift to her. I bet she will be happy! :))

Thanks Sowmya. Healthy and homemade, what more could you want! :))

AnuSriram said...

That looks perfect asha.. Makes a healthy meal.

Yasmeen said...

Spinach in a bread is a super healthy idea:)

FH said...

Thanks Anu, great bread to inaugurate my new oven! :))

Yasmeen, thanks. It is tangy and so filling, you don't need anything else, or may be some warm butter on top! :)

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you back Asha! That bread was sooo yummy and delightfully healthy. Thanks for sharing such wonderful and creative recipes. Takecare!

Archy said...

This Home made bread looks so nice an comfort !!I'm so lazy to bake bread don't no why :) Need to try!! Thank you for the recipe !!

FH said...

Thank you for checking it out, Mona. Homemade breads, you can always be so creative! :))

Archy, once you bake, you will be hooked. Try with a simple bread and move on to better ones. You can use food processor to knead as well which is what I do. I am lazy too, my arm hurts from hand kneading! :D

mallugirl said...

for a die hard cook such as u, it must have been horrible to not cook for 5 weeks!!Thanks for pointing me to this one. it looks like such a nice artisan bread!!! wanna start a side business? :)
we were in fl only last week so that's why we missed each other.

Sunshinemom said...

Oh yes! This has to taste good and smell heaven! I bake cheese breads quite often as the kids absolutely love them, and have been thinking of a spinach braid - will put the two together!

FH said...

Yes S, it was pretty hard and I had to keep two kids filled by other means and ate out a lot which I don't like. Glad it's over though!:)
Hope you try the bread. Wasn't those parks so much fun? For X Mas, they had fireworks near the castle and in every park every night and weather was good too!:)

H, braids will absolutely look good with this combo. I had that sweet braid bread for Easter last year, and posted here too.Post your's when you bake it! :)

Srivalli said...

Asha, thats looking so yummy!..gosh asha you making me get hungry...you have so many lovely ones already!

FH said...

There are plenty more in the draft, Sri! :D

Daily Meals said...

Hi Asha! Feta cheese bread seems very healthy with spinach...

FH said...

It is Vijaya and it's also so good to eat too. Feta has a tangy taste which makes great sandwiches! :))