A few weeks ago, I went out for lunch with a friend of mine to one of my favorite restaurants. It was a relatively chilly day and I opted for soup, served with some excellent multi-grain bread. She chose a sandwich special and while neither of us remember what was on the sandwich, we both remember the golden bread it was served on: a whole grain, curry-flavored loaf.
Since that lunch, the idea of making a similar loaf has been in the back of my mind. I used a blend of whole wheat flour and bread flour for this bread, since the higher protein bread flour balances the whole wheat flour, giving the bread enough gluten to rise well (all whole wheat breads can be on the dense side). Curry powder is the main flavoring element here and I decided not to add in too many additional flavors to compete with it, although I did add some in honey as a sweetener because it tends to go well with whole wheat.
It has a slightly sweet, wheaty taste and, while the curry is noticeable, it is subtle enough not to overpower the bread or the eater’s tastebuds. If you want a more dramatic curry taste, feel free to add in another teaspoon of curry powder. I added a bit of turmeric to improve the color of the bread and help ensure that it took on a nice yellowish tint. I didn’t add enough to make a big impact on flavor, so you can omit it if it isn’t something you typically have on hand. The bread is fairly soft and, once it has cooled, should not have a hard crust; like many sandwich breads, it slices very easily.
The bread is excellent with soup (especially tomato, since I am eating some with tomato soup as I write this) and, of course, works well with sandwiches. I’d recommend something like chicken, turkey or even egg salad to go with this bread, although I’m sure that almost anything would be good on it.
Curried Wheat Bread
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup water, warm (100-110F)
3/4 cup milk, warm (skim/low fat/whole)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 – 2 1/4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
In a large mixing bowl, combine active dry yeast, curry powder, turmeric, water, milk and honey. Stir and let stand for about 5 minutes, until yeast is slightly foamy. Stir in vegetable oil, salt, whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups bread flour. Gradually mix in remaining bread flour until dough comes together and pulls smoothly away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes (This can all be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, too). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and deflate slightly. Shape into an oblong/rectangular loaf, about twice as long as it is wide. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, dust with some flour and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
When loaf has risen, bake for 30-35 minutes, until bread is golden and an instant read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf reads about 200F (loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.