We got the idea to make a bread that was a riff on “ants on a log.” You know, celery stalks filled in with peanut butter and trails of raisins. And spreading peanut butter on a slice of this bread is a good idea, but the peanut butter can overpower the celery. Well, I’m not trying to trick any kids into eating a vegetable.
There are several variations of celery in this bread. Still, celery is the star of this bread, and you can see a few green flecks in the slices and the crust. I like to think that if celery were JLo, then the cream of celery soup and roasted celery root would be the back-up dancers. You with me? The soup and the root are still bringing in flavors of celery, but in slightly different ways. The soup is creamy and more complex from being simmered with potato, onions, and garlic. The roasted root adds texture and a more mellow version of celery. This makes the whole bread better in flavor, and tastes more like a celery bread than a few stalks of celery could alone.
I used Mark Bittman's basic speedy no-knead bread recipe as a guide but made some changes to fix a bread that didn't work too well on the first go because of all the additions. The extra 5/8 cup of water was cut out to make way for a 1/2 cup of the cream of celery soup, which helped the dough from being too wet. Instead of roasting the celery for the final recipe, we kept it raw because we like the clean, fresh taste of celery and wanted to get close to keeping some of that in the bread. The cream of celery soup used here was slightly adapted from Bon Appetit via epicurious. The soup leftovers turned out to be a soulmate-level match for a thick slice of this bread. (Please follow this link for soup instructions: http://alittlesaffron.com/2012/03/13/cream-of-celery-soup/ )
—Ileana Morales Valentine
Note: We made a cream of celery soup to add to this bread. (Check the intro for a link!) I suppose you could also use canned soup.
To roast the celery root, cut it into 1-cm cubes, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast at 425°F for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, mix flour, yeast, and salt. Add water, soup, and stir just until blended. Mix in the celery, celery root, and raisins.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 4 hours at warm room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly oiled cutting board. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest (and rise) for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450°F right after wrapping the dough, giving the oven those 30 minutes to heat up. Put a dutch oven or 6- to 8-quart covered pot in the oven as it heats.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven when the dough is ready to go. Slide your hand under the dough and put it into the pot with the seam side up.
Cover the pot with its lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Give it another five or so minutes if it’s not as browned as you’d like it to be.