Manoomin: Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex, Samuel and his grandfather’s Wild Rice Bread

by Jeff Secker | Originally posted on 

In chapter 2 of my novel, Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex, Samuel MacLeod gives a presentation about his family for his teacher, Mr. Kawai, and his Grade 6 class. Samuel is new to Raymond Moriyama Public School, and this is the first time that Emily Jayne has a chance to hear him talk and see what he is like. Samuel explains that he and his family belong to the Chapleau Ojibwe First Nation and are one of the Anishinaabe peoples of Canada. Chapleau is (by road) about 130 kilometres east of Lake Superior, and 230 km north north east of Sault Ste. Marie. 

Samuel says, “When I was younger, my family spent a lot of time with my grandparents at their camp, hunting, fishing, gardening and playing cards.” He also says, “I’m happy to be here in Ottawa, but I won’t get to see my grandparents until we go back to Chapleau in the summer, and I really miss them. I also miss the bread that Grandpa Curtis makes. He makes it with manoomin, which is the Ojibwe word for wild rice. His bread is crispy and nutty and he’s the only one I know who bakes it.”

The recipe to follow is my recipe for Samuel’s Wild Rice Bread, and this is what I had in mind when I wrote chapter 2 of my novel. I imagine Samuel especially liking the fried version of this Wild Rice Bread. Note that I was originally inspired to make a Wild Rice Bread by the North Woods Muffins recipe (by Marg Meyers) in The Harrowsmith Country Life Baking Book, which has one cup of cooked wild rice in the muffins. Also, please note that there are other recipes for Wild Rice Bread available on the Internet.

Samuel’s Wild Rice Bread

  • Origin: I am a life-long lover of wild rice, and I invented this bread to go along with the character Samuel MacLeod in my novel, Emily Jayne and the Kairos Codex.
  • Source: Jeff Secker
  • Composition: By weight of the dry ingredients, this recipe has 23 percent whole wheat flour, 71 percent unbleached all-purpose flour and 6 percent oats. Each loaf also has 160 grams of wild rice.
  • Preparation time: 4 hours, start to finish: 45-60 minutes to cook the wild rice, and then 3 hours for the bread (includes 40 minutes bake time for the loaves, and 20 minutes for the fried bread). 
  • Makes: 3 loaves (650-670 grams each when baked and cooled), or 2 loaves (650-670 grams each) and 2 fried bread discs (about 335 grams each when fried and cooled).

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (585 g) lukewarm water
  • 4 teaspoons (12 g) traditional active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) honey
  • 3 cups (480 g) loosely packed cooked wild rice
  • 2/3 cups (70 g) rolled oats 
  • 2 cups (240 g) whole wheat flour
  • 5 cups (600 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • Up to 1 1/2 cup (180 g) additional unbleached all-purpose flour, as necessary

Directions

  1. Add the dry yeast and honey to the 2 1/2 half cups of lukewarm water and stir to mix aand dissolve yeast. Let stand 5-7 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Combine rolled oats and wild rice in a large mixing bowl and pour the dissolved yeast and honey mixture over them. Stir to mix well.
  3. Add the whole wheat flour, the salt and 5 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour. Mix until the dough forms a single large ball. Add additional flour as needed.
  4. Transfer dough to the counter or another surface for kneading. Knead for 5-10 minutes, adding remaining flour as needed until the dough is only slightly sticky.
  5. Place dough in a large mixing bowl, cover loosely with wax paper or a damp tea towel and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 60-90 minutes (at 70 degrees F).
  6. Punch down the dough and cut into three equal pieces, about 750 g each. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into loaves and place in greased bread pans with seam of loaf on the underside. Dust the top with flour, and cover with wax paper. Let rise for 40-50 minutes, until the loaves fill the bread pan and have risen about a half of an inch above the lip. Twenty to thirty minutes before rising is finished, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Bake loaves at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove bread from the pans and let cool for 4-6 hours on a wire rack.
  9. Alternatively, divide one of the three balls of dough into two, and flatten each to a disc about 8-8 inches across. Let rise for 40-50 minutes. Take one disc at a time and fry it in oil or butter and at low to medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side, adjusting the temperature so that the bread turns brown but does not burn.  Cool each disc on a rack and wrap any uneaten bread in a tea towel or plastic bag to keep for 2-3 days. 

TIPS: For a thinner and less crispy crust, bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees F for the remaining 25 minutes. Both large flake oats and the quicker cooking (minute or instant) oats work well for this recipe.

Wild rice bread loaves cooling on a wooden rack.

Two discs of fried wild rice bread cooling on a wooden rack.

Wild rise bread dough rising, nearly double its initial size.

Wild rice loaves rising in bread pans and ready for the oven.

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