Thanksgiving Dressing Bread
Leftovers are my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Every year, I look forward to a heaping turkey sandwich dripping with cranberry sauce. If I was really decadent, I could always flatten a couple wedges of dressing and deep fry them to use as a bun, but I have a far easier (and less artery clogging) method for ensuring my leftover sandwiches also include the savory taste of my beloved dressing. I bake the spices right into a loaf of bread.
These days, I actually bake it into four loaves of bread (double the recipe). That gives me two loaves to use as the base of my dressing itself and two more for the tasty sandwiches I enjoy while holed up, hiding from Black Friday shoppers.
Thanksgiving Dressing Bread
2 cups very warm water (or 1 cup warm water, 1 cup full fat broth)
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp dried sage
½ tbsp dried rosemary
½ tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 – 2 ½ cups white bread flour
To make this easy bread, start by dissolving your yeast and sugar into 1 cup of very warm water. Let them bubble away for the next 10 minutes. When you come back, you should have a mushroom-cloud-like explosion of growth awaiting you.
Dump in the olive oil, minced garlic, onion flakes, sage, rosemary, and salt. (If you happen to have fresh herbs at home, by all means, use them instead.) Mix it all into a nice, yeasty slurry, then add the second cup of warm water (or a cup of home made broth, if you have any around.)
Add the flours by ½ cup full, alternating between the wheat and white. Keep mixing until you achieve a dough that’s moist, but not tacky. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it do the heavy lifting for the next 6-8 minutes. If not, you’re going to have to knead it yourself.
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and come back in an hour.
Punch it down, divide it in half, and shape each half into a log. Put your logs in two well oiled loaf pans and let them rise for another hour.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
If you plan on making this into dressing, don’t bother giving it a shiny egg wash or painting the top with olive oil. You’re just going to cut it up into cubes anyway. Only dress it up if you plan on showing off your leftover prowess – though be warned, that does mean sharing.
To turn this into dressing fodder, slice the bread then cut the slices into cubes. Spread them out on a couple of clean cookie sheets and let them dry out overnight. Once they’ve gone a little stale, toast them in a 300F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they turn dark golden brown and the edges harden. Substitute your seasoned bread for whatever you normally use when making dressing.
That may sound like a tremendous pain in the ass compared to buying a bag of Stouffers pre-seasoned bread cubes, but it’s really only five minutes extra work (assuming you already made the bread). You can cut the bread up in no time, then all you have to do is viciously abandon it and go about your carefree life. Whenever you remember it, toss it in the oven to get a tan.
I love Thanksgiving food so much I’ll usually pick up a rotisserie chicken the Monday after Thanksgiving as an excuse to keep making poultry and cranberry sandwiches on this bread. If you want to sneak a slice of candied yam onto your sandwich, I won’t judge you.