Friday, July 15, 2011

Chia - an experimental loaf

Chia. Just what is all the fuss about? Superfood? Ancient Grain? You may have heard these words tossed around in the same sentence as Chia.  Is this seed a  passing phase or is it here to stay?

I couldn't resist my curiosity this week when I found myself in a baking shop and came across these seeds. I came home with a precious little package containing 250g chia seeds for which I paid $5.00. Not bad, I thought, if they go the distance...

But what of the health benefits?

Chia, belonging to the mint family has been in use since ancient Aztec times, originally used as a cash crop. Gluten free, the seed can be eaten raw or cooked, whole or ground and is the highest known plant source of omega-3. The seeds are also high in fibre and protein, are known to lower blood pressure being rich in essential fatty acids and can stabilise blood sugar levels. Non GMO and pesticide free, the list of further health benefits seems to go on and on!

So, I was sold! Yes, albeit after I had made the purchase but that was fine with me.

But what to do with them?

The lady in the shop told me they absorb quite a bit of water so to soak them first when making bread and to take this soaking liquid into account in the recipe quantities.

Ok! I could try that!


Eager to play with my intriguing new chia seeds, I prepared the soak. The seeds were soaked in cold water at a ratio of 1:4 (50g seeds, 200ml water), overnight which produced a thick chia 'gel'.

Chia gel - seeds and water that have been soaked overnight
The gel was added to the dough ingredients at the mixing stage and the water slightly reduced to take this gooey gel into account.

Two loaves crammed full of chia. The loaf was incredibly moist..after resting for 12 hours and then slicing. SO moist! And it toasted up beautifully..even though it seemed to take aaages to brown in the toaster...


..and the taste?

It's hard to know if there is any taste coming from the chia - definitely not anything noticable,anyway. I was however blown away with how moist the loaf was..I know I mentioned this already, but it was really surprising!

Chia Experimental Loaves (#1)
makes 2 smaller loaves

Ingredients:
50g chia seed
200ml water

400g sourdough starter
800g flour (I used a mix of strong white and organic white)
450g water
1 1/2 tsp salt
poppy seeds for garnish, optional

Method:
Soak the chia seeds and water overnight. The following morning mix all ingredients together, delaying the addition of salt. Fold often on floured surface over 4-5 hours (dough will be moist and flowing). Shape. As the dough was moist, I chose to use tins, although if free form loaves were sought, the water content could be reduced in the original ingredients. Allow to rise for 3-4 hours until doubled in size. Score and bake at 220c for 20 mins, rotate loaves and reduce temp to 200c and bake for a further 20-30 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Coincedentally, Brydie has also been playing with chia this week. Take a look at her hippy Chia Quinoa Bread here.

15 comments:

  1. Wow, I've never heard of Chia. Is it a bit like quinoa?

    Thanks for sharing!

    This Good Life

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  2. Lovely loaves, both yours and Brydie's! Remember the chia pet fad? :)

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  3. Wow, that loaf looks fantastic! I can see how tender and moist it is in the photo. You always inspire me to try new bread recipes and break out of my whole wheat comfort zone, lol :)

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  4. I have used chia for some time now in just about everything I make, it is an exceptional "grain". I love it in bread, also fantastic in casseroles, soups and gravy!
    Like you I find little taste, however the benefits are worth this tiny little food:)

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  5. dear christine,
    what a wonderful loaf....it looks fantastic.
    chia seed is very good for the health.
    thanks for sharing the recipe.
    i wish you a wonderful weekend,
    love regina

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  6. Hi. I'm a new reader, came over from Down to Earth. My family and I enjoy this Chia drink that is very popular in parts of Mexico. This drink is good for a mid day energy boost. Soak 1 tablespoon Chia seeds in 1 cup water. After 15 minutes, add juice of one lime or (lemon if you prefer,) 2 tablespoons sugar and bit fresh mint. Stir and enjoy.

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for keeping me inspired.

    Miriam, Austin, TX, USA

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  7. I add dry chia to our bread (in our breadmaker) a couple of tablespoonfuls... I use the white chia. I've also thrown it into fritters and cupcakes ot muffins, but it's a little too crunchy that way for me. I tried using the gel in meatballs once, blurgh, that didn't work out!

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  8. yum, good way to make the kids eat healthy without them knowing

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  9. I have used chia in my bread too but never soaked it first, can't wait to try it.

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  10. Lovely, lovely! It does give a moist loaf doesn't it. A little butter, a slap of vegemite, a hunk of cheese. Oh damn, I'm hungry again...
    The first smoothie I made with it was, um, chewy. Soaking is good!

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  11. Wonderful idea! We throw a handful of chia in our granola, careful not to put in too much or all the almond milk disappears! ;) This recipe caught my eye because I only cook and eat with sourdough, no yeast. I'll just add some in to our gluten-free recipe for added benefits, thanks so much for sharing! :) (Found you through TGL! :)

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  12. I wonder if I can grow it? I'm always so skeptical about "wonder foods". I mean, I know there are super foods that have lots of nutrient value, but there seem to be quite a lot of them, at least some of which grow locally and are cheap. So I've always been a bit leery of chia. But you're making me consider whether I should plant some....

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  13. Chia is all very mysterious to me, TGL. I haven't played with quinoa so can't say. I do hear them in the same conversations from time to time though. :)

    OK, don't laugh Celia - I had to google 'chia pet'!! I really must live under a rock because I had never seen these, much less heard of them before!! Too funny! :)

    Breaking out of comfort zones is good, Little Home - so long as we can go back to them from time to time ;)

    This is wonderful to hear how you use it, Molly. For such a tiny little seed/grain it seems to offer so much!

    Hi Regina..it seems to have lots of health benefits. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    Wow, your drink sounds fascinating, Miriam!! I must try this sometime! Thanks for saying hi. :)

    Hmm, I wonder if the water content was slightly reduced how the chia would go in meatballs, dixie. This would be fantastic for getting it into kids' bellies... (I remember you posted a while ago about growing it..or planning to?)

    Exactly, Kirsty! Clever thing ;)

    It's really fun to play with, Debbie..and good to know that it's healthy for us, too!

    SO moist, Brydie - unbelievable really. Vegemite's a winner on it ;)

    I can imagine how quickly your almond milk would soak up, Melinda. It's like a sponge, isn't it! Great idea to put it in granola..

    It would be a worthy experiment, Linda. Your climate would probably be suitable for growing too (unlike mine..). Go on, sow some - what fun!! This would be the epitome of chia bread consumption!

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  14. This loaf looks lovely. I 'discovered' chia a couple of years ago and have been using it since. I don't use it in cooking though. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that you lose most of the nutrients when it is heated. I call them 'ants' and ask my kids if they want some ants on their cereal in the morning. They think it is a great joke, even two years later!

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  15. Hi Christine...first visit here and I'm hooked! I use chia in my bread...but didn't know about the soaking part. I've only ever thrown them in dry. You are a true bread artisan...and I'll try this gel next time.

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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