I bought a book recently that had a picture of an Australian bread called Vegetable Il Gianfornaio. It looked beautiful and I flipped through the book frantically trying to find a recipe, but it was just a picture. No recipe in the book! That must be the worst thing a cook book could do – have lovely pictures with no accompanying recipes! What’s up with that?
So I diligiously searched the Web and couldn’t find a recipe though I did find many references to the bread. So I decided to make up my own recipe. And it was a huge success.
Australian vegetable il gianfornaio is a bread made up of different strands woven together into a round shape. Each strand gets its color from vegetable juice. Not food coloring. Vegetable juice – I mean, how healthy! It looked and sounded wonderful.
Make the basic dough 4 times. That is, start out with 4 different bowls and proceed from there.
1 cup All-Purpose Flour for each bowl (4 cups Flour)
1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast for each bowl (1 tsp Yeast)
3/4 tsp Salt for each bowl (3 tsp Salt)
1 tbsp Sugar for each bowl (4 tbsp Sugar)
1/2 tbsp Butter for each bowl (2 tbsp Butter)
110 ml Juice for each bowl
110 ml each Spinach Juice, Beet Juice and Tomato Juice. Leave one plain.
Add individual juices to each separate bowl. So you’ll have one spinach dough, one beet dough, one tomato dough and one plain (white) dough.
Mix the dough until it comes together. Empty the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap. Repeat for the other bowls. Set in a warm, draft-free area of the house and allow to rise (approximately 1-1 1/2 hours).
Take the dough out of the bowl and gently roll back and forth to form a thick rope (about 10″ long). Repeat for the other dough. Now line all the ropes next to each other and pinch one end so that they come together. Now twist the ropes into a swirl and end up on top (next time I would tuck it into the center, so you don’t see the ends).
Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the bread is done (test by gently knocking on the bread, you’ll get a hollow sound when it’s done). Remove from oven and cool for about 1/2 hour.
It was soft and the vegetable juices definitely added a lightness to the bread. I think breads with spices and herbs are more flavorful, but this looks and tastes delicious too. Next time, I might add some pieces of mashed vegetable as well as the juice to get more flavor.
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