A Southern Grace: bean bread?

May 5, 2008

bean bread?


Yes, bean bread. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

There's no question that I love my beans, but to add them to bread? It seems weird and inappropriate.

But add them I did, and the result?


Although the original recipe called for black beans (arguably my favorite bean) and barbecue sauce, I had some pork and beans burning a hole in my cabinet, so I opted for those. The recipe also included chopped chipotle peppers, which I should always have on hand but didn't. Instead, I used some chipotle chile powder.

Folks, this stuff is potent. How potent, you ask? After adding a measly half-teaspoon to my batter and stirring a bit, I suddenly found myself sneezing. And sneezing some more. I counted nine sneezes, but it's hard to focus on counting when you're thrashing around your kitchen like a fish out of water.

And don't worry, I didn't sneeze into the bowl and I washed my hands after my fit. I know you were concerned.

Eb definitely did his job (even though I inadvertently starved him for an extra week):

I'm pleased with both changes I made, even though they were out of necessity rather than personal preference. The pork and beans pretty much disintegrated into the batter. They made the bread moist (although it looks deceivingly dry) and a little bit sweet, while the chile powder definitely delivered some punch. Here's how it goes: Take bite, taste sweetness, swallow, feel burn. Take another bite to stop burn, taste sweetness, feel relief, swallow, feel burn. And on and on it goes. Yeah, I ate a huge hunk of it without really meaning to. It's a vicious (but oh-so-tasty) cycle.

It's Cinco de Mayo, possibly my favorite holiday as it gives me an excuse to eat all the Mexican food I want (as if I needed a reason). I'm loving my black bean pomegranate salsa, so for breakfast this morning, I had some toasted bean bread, leftover egg whites, and some of that amazing salsa (with fresh-cracked pepper, of course).

Fire-Breathing Beany Bread
2 cups active sourdough starter
16-oz can of pork and beans
1 cup bean juice
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, or 1 1/4 teaspoon dried regular oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (not for the sensitive-tongued)

1. Do whatever you need to do to prepare two cups of active sourdough starter.
2. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the starchy juice per batch of bread. If there isn't a full cup of juice, add water to make 1 cup of liquid per batch.
3. Mash the beans with a fork, potato masher, or food processor until they are chunky, but not pureed. Try not to leave any beans whole and intact. The texture of the bean puree will affect the texture of the bread--you choose how smooth or chunky you want the bread. (I made mine chun-kay. That's just how I roll.)
4. Pour the bean juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the bean mash and sourdough starter.
5. Add and (carefully) stir in the whole wheat flour, chile powder, cumin, oregano, and salt.
6. Add the bread flour a cup at a time, until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Pour out the dough into a well-floured surface.
7. Knead the dough, adding flour as needed, until the dough is fairly smooth and springy. You may need to add more flour than is called for above, depending on how liquid the beans are. Knead 6 to 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and lively (lively?).
8. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn, and cover with foil.
9. Let rise in a warm place until approximately doubled in volume (Eb took all night).
10. Punch the dough down, transfer to a well-floured surface, and cut into 2 or 3 (or 4, if your starter is as spectacular as mine) equal pieces.
11. Grease some baking sheets and/or loaf pans.
12. Shape the dough into loaves. Circle, oval, massive blob--it doesn't matter.
13. Place the loaves on the baking sheet or in the pans, cover with foil, and let rise again in a warm place for 1 hour.
14. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
15. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes in the tops of the loaves with a knife to allow the dough to expand in the hot oven.
16. Put the bread in the oven, and put a cup of water into a tray on the bottom of your oven.

Yes, my pan warped in the super-hot oven. Oops.

17. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is caramel brown, and the loaf is done. Cool on a rack.
18. Take some Bean-o and enjoy.

Bread is simply not photogenic.


Pixie said...

What an interesting recipe- who would have ever thought of adding beans in bread? Wonderful, Grace, thanks so much for sharing! and Bless ya ;)

Albany Jane said...


That looks great, and sounds like the trinity of happiness - bacon, beans and bread all in one.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

How super interesting?!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I never would have thought to add beans to bread, but as soon as I read the post title, I thought this was a great idea. This sounds like it would be a hit and most definitely appropriate for today.

Cheryl said...

I've never heard of such a thing, but I'm intrigued! I've been wanting to get some sourdough starter going. This might be the thing that motivates me to do so!

Pork & beans in bread. I'm just....wow.

Jeff said...

First baby food now beans. When will the insanity stop? hehehehe just kidding sounds awesome (of course pork and beans how could it not be?).

Anonymous said...

I love bread, and I love beans...seems to me that this combo would be great.

Sound really flavourful and most, definitely gonna give this one a try!

giz said...

I felt like I was reading a foreign novel but in a good way. I would never have thought beans in bread but hey, why not? I love that chipotle pepper powder - never seen it in our part of the world.

Cakespy said...

YES!! Carbohydrates = bueno! :-) Very yummy sounding!

RecipeGirl said...

Looks muy bueno. I was going to ask what "bean juice" was but I saw that you just drained the beans (and voila you have bean juice!)

I personally like the breakfast that you put together. I'm really into egg whites for breakfast right now so it's sounding great.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Now I am saying this in the nicest, most supportive, loving way possible but this is the strangest recipe I have ever heard of and I love it, especially the name. I mean I would have never thought to put these things together. I am going to make this puppy along with that salsa because I just have to try it. Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

Fire-breathing beany bread? My kind of food. The hotter the better. I made white bread over the weekend, we could make sandwiches with a slice of beany and a slice of white. I love pork and beans, it's the Yankee in me.

Deborah said...

I have never heard of bean bread before - it's genius! I really want to try this one!

Anonymous said...

I love it-sounds quite mad but in a brilliant way!

Sarah said...

Whoa. Where has this recipe been all my life? I cannot have enough beans in my diet, and this might just be the perfect way to have more! And yes, I agree with you about black beans. They're just so wonderful. I'm pretty attached to white beans as well. Thanks for the post!

LyB said...

That has to be the most creative bread recipe I've ever seen! Looks delicious. I have to disagree about bread not being photogenic though, those little bubbles look gorgeous!

Elle said...

Who would have thought? Sounds fascinating and delicious!

You've been tagged--see my blog, please. Feel free to play or pass, it's up to you. ;)

Cate said...

What a unique way to celebrate the holiday!

Emily said...

Wow, that's weird and crazy. I would have never thought to put pork and beans in bread.

My pans warp, also. It scares me.

KJ said...

I would never have thought of this is a million years, pork and bean bread. and it works!! Great job.

LisaRene said...

This is one of the most unique bread recipes I have ever seen. Very creative!

You and "Eb" have made some beautiful bread together. If I had a choice between those delicious desserts in your next post or fresh bread I would choose bread :)

test it comm said...

Bean bread with chipotle chile powder is a great idea!

sher said...

That's a great idea! I love it!