With Canadian Thanksgiving nearly upon us, it’s time to fully commit to fall flavours. That means squash, deep pine-like winter herbs, molasses inspired sugar, and roasted root vegetables.
Whether your Thanksgiving spread highlights the classic turkey, ham, or roast, one staple side dish almost always makes an appearance: stuffing. Ironically enough, in more recent years, stuffing is often not served stuffed at all, but rather assembled on its own as a stand-alone side. Everyone has their own heritage recipe that stretches back generations, that is much beloved and ill-advised to tamper with — unless you want some disappointed guests.
Here the overall inspiration behind stuffing is morphed into a dense and delectable bread full of roasted shallots and winter herbs. This would be the perfect accompaniment to a traditional Thanksgiving table or would work equally well in a casual setting, perhaps alongside a turkey soup. If you are looking to bring life to your Thanksgiving leftovers, this bread would be great for a sandwich or as a savory French toast, dipped in egg and fried and served topped with leftovers.
Any way you choose to serve it, it is at its core easy to make, and crafting a loaf of bread in a Dutch oven is a satisfying and simple task. The resonant heat from the cast iron ensures an easy and relatively quick cooking time and the lid helps to retain moisture, delivering a tender centre but crisp crust.
The hardest part about this bread is the waiting, as you must let it rise for a minimum of four hours — but rest assured, it is well worth the wait.
Here a combination of seasonings is suggested, but by all means, use whatever spices and herbs make the stuffing your own.
(Makes 1 loaf)
6 shallots, peeled and halved
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
¼ cup (60 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
3 ½ (875 ml) cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (325 ml) lukewarm water
2 ¼ teaspoons (11.25 ml) of yeast
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of salt
1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) of sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of dried winter savory
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of dried sage
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small, oven-proof dish, combine the peeled garlic and ¼ cup of olive oil. On a parchment lined baking sheet, arrange the shallots and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Roast the shallots and garlic for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cool, chop the shallots coarsely and remove the garlic from the oil. Reserve the oil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the dough hook attached, combine the water, yeast, salt, sugar, and oil, then mix. Gradually add in half of the flour, then add in the shallots, roasted garlic, and herbs. Add in the remaining flour and allow to mix until a ball forms and it is no longer sticky (about 5 minutes).
Coat the inside of a large glass bowl with oil or non-stick spray.
Form the dough into a ball with your hands and place it in the oiled bowl, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area and let rise for 4 hours — it should double in size.
Once 4 hours have elapsed, heat the oven to 450F and place a large Dutch oven in the hot oven to preheat.
Meanwhile, flour a work surface and turn out the dough. Punch down the dough and knead 10-15 times. Form into a ball and place on a large piece of parchment paper. Cut 2 slashes (1 cm deep) in the dough and cover with a clean towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Once 30 minutes have elapsed, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and place the paper and dough into the preheated Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven back into the oven and cover and cook for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid and let cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the bread cool for 15-20 minutes on a wire rack.
Once cool, slice and enjoy!