I thought of calling this Popeye's Bread. I'm assuming that most people watched some Popeye cartoons when they were younger, rejoicing when he gained spectacular strength to defeat his enemies after eating canned spinach. I ate canned spinach once, dreadful slimy stuff, so it's clear that Popeye was no foodie. This bread is loaded with lots of spinach and feta cheese, so if you like those flavors, this is the bread for you. Dense and filling, a little goes a long way. I enjoyed it immensely, and used it to make a sandwich with the dwindling tomatoes from my garden.
There's a small amount of nutmeg in the bread, so I think it qualifies for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by the amazing Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. Nutmeg is actually a spice, but Kalyn is flexible on these matters. You may have noticed that mace and nutmeg have similar flavors, with good reason. Mace is a lacey web covering the nutmeg seed, which grows into an evergreen tree found in Asia and Australia.
By the way, next week is the start of the two year anniversary for WHB. So, don't be left out of the big event. Go to Kalyn's site and learn how to take part. But, this week the lovely Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once is hosting WHB. She always has gorgeous pictures on her site, so check them out.
This recipe makes one loaf of bread, with two packages of frozen spinach added to the dough. The spinach gives the dough a very distinctive flavor, and adds a lot of anti-oxidants too. It's dense and satisfying, and kept me from eating slice after slice, which I usually do with other bread. But, this isn't a bread for a person new to making yeast breads. The lavish amount of spinach made for an odd dough. It was stiff, moist, but not sticky--and never really came together in an elastic ball like regular bread dough. I kneaded it in my Mixmaster for almost 10 minutes.
Spinach and Feta Cheese Yeast Bread
(Adapted from Recipe Zaar)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (18 g)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, but liquid reserved
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (freshly grated, please)
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or more) (500 g)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (12 g)
Lightly saute the garlic in oil and cool to room temperature.
Warm 1/4 cup of the reserved spinach liquid to just above 100F (105 to 115, ideally).
Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm spinach liquid, let stand until foamy, 10 minutes.
Add remaining 1/2 cup spinach liquid, feta cheese, garlic and oil, spinach, and nutmeg and stir thoroughly.
Mix the flour and salt and stir into the spinach mixture.
Knead on a floured surface or in a Mixmaster until dough is well marbled, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more flour, if the dough is sticky, but it is OK if it is slightly moist. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
The dough may be even wetter after rising because of the spinach. Pour the dough onto a well floured work surface and flour the top of the dough if necessary. Shape into a loaf and place on a lightly oiled bread pan. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425F. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400F and bake the loaf 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool completely on a rack.