Monday, January 9, 2012

Hunger Games Baking Adventures: District 4 Bread Recipe

Awhile ago the San Jose Mercury News posted an article about a Hunger Games recipe contest they are hosting. At first I didn't know if I was gonna enter. I may cook Hunger Games recipes but I haven't ever really created a recipe of my own before. But then my pal Cristian suggested we try to make the District 4 bread. It's described in the book as being fish shaped, salty, and tinted green because of seaweed. Sounds doable right? Bread is about as basic as it gets recipe creating wise! Not only that but my mother is a bread making fiend. She would definitely set us straight if we did anything wrong. :P

So starting out all we knew about the bread was that it was salty and had seaweed in it. Fortunately my mom was already stocked up on nori seaweed sheets. Only in my house could someone ask about seaweed and then my mom pops up with a ginormous package. Then again we are Asian so it does makes sense.... >.<

I think the bread is described in the book as being a sort of fish shaped roll but we decided to adapt a breadstick recipe that I found on AllRecipes instead. I don't know why but breadstick dough was the first thing that came to mind when I was brainstorming on how to make the bread.

So we started out by taking a bunch of the packs of nori seaweed and blending it in our blender on high.


Thank you Cristian for taking this lovely creeper shot. >.< We blended the nori till it was pretty fine but not totally a powder. Its really up to you how fine you want the seaweed to be. Its more noticeable if you don't blend it as much which is nice because then you can really see it in the bread.

A note on the seaweed. Your best bet for finding this stuff is at an oriental food market but you could also check the exotic food aisle at your local grocery store. Just ask for nori seaweed and people should know what you're talking about.

Anyway moving on with the recipe. After grinding up the nori we then started mixing the batter. 



Since the book says the bread is salty we omitted the sugar from the bread recipe and instead added an extra teaspoon of salt. Another thing we added was whole wheat flour. My mom is a whole wheat flour nut so we used half whole wheat and half white. We didn't know how green the batter would be after adding in the seaweed but we definitely wanted the bread to have a noticeable green tint. Just adding the seaweed wasn't enough so we decided to add in food coloring as well. At first I was afraid to use food coloring because if you google "green bread" you get a slew of artificial green bread loaves and I DID NOT want our bread to look like that.

 THE HORROR!!!! D:

Fortunately just 4 drops of food coloring gave it the green tint we wanted without making it look unnatural. In fact if I didn't know any better I would think the bread was naturally green!

After we finished kneading the bread we formed it into fish shapes. The book isn't specific about what kind of fish or anything so we got creative. My mom REALLY got into it. This step turned out to be the most time consuming but it was also the most rewarding. All I can say is I can see why artisan bakeries sell their animal shaped breads for so much. They take SO LONG to shape. :P Here's what our fish looked like before baking:

 Of course my moms two fish are super pro. She put us both to shame. :P Cristian made the fish head in the bottom left.

Cristian made the top fish and I made the bottom fish. You can't tell but that dorky roll thing in the middle has a 4 on it to represent District 4. >.<

Before baking we brushed the top of each fish with egg to give it a nice glossy sheen. This is what the finished product looked like:


Totally awesome right? They came out WAY better than I ever expected! I especially love that you can see the green tint even in the photograph. SUCCESS! :D

I'm a tad bit disappointed in how my fish turned out style wise. It looks kind of like a puffer fish the way the scales puffed up the way they did and that wasn't really the look I was going for but oh well. We all unanimously decided that the mini fish was definitely the cutest design. When we make the recipe again we are definitely making mostly mini fish!

As for how the bread tasted it was super delicious! Honestly the seaweed was hardly even noticeable but it gave it a nice sort of oceany scent to the bread. It was also salty just like the book said! One step we forgot was sprinkling sea salt on top of the bread after baking but that's really optional. For the true sodium addicts I guess you could say! XD

So that was my adventure in Hunger Games baking! Definitely a real success. Hopefully this will help me become more creative in the kitchen in the future.

For all you other Hunger Games fans out there here's the recipe to create your very own District 4 bread! If you decide to make it be sure to take pictures of your fish creations. I would love to see them. :D

District 4 Bread

Ingredients

2 ½ cups flour (half whole wheat/half white flour)
1 cup warm water
1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp of salt
1 packet of yeast (1/2 tbsp)
3-4 tbsp of Nori Seaweed (blended)
½ tsp sugar
1 medium egg
4 drops of green food coloring (more or less depending on the color you desire)
Egg Wash:
1 beaten egg
sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

1. Take several sheets of nori and put them into a blender. Blend on medium speed until the nori is a fine consistency. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the nori for a less noticeable seaweed taste and 4 tablespoons for a more noticeable seaweed taste. Put aside till needed.

2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, yeast, food coloring, and 1 cup of warm water. Once mixed add the oil, 1 egg, salt, nori, 1 cup of flour, and the remaining water. Continue stirring, adding flour as you go, until you form a soft dough. Put the dough onto a floured surface and continue to hand knead it, adding flour as you go, until the dough is soft and pliable. Place the dough into a greased bowl and let it rise to double the size (about 40 minutes).

3. Once the dough has risen punch it down and proceed to form the dough into whatever fish shapes you desire. When you’re finished brush beaten egg over the tops of the fish to add extra shine. Once the fish are done let them rise for another 25 minutes.

4. Bake the bread fish at 400 F for about 10-12 or until the top of the bread is a lovely golden brown. Additional salt may be sprinkled on top if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Tips for Fish Shaping

  • Use extra nori sheets to add detail to your fish such as scales and eyes.
  • Use kitchen shears to cut definition into fish fins, gills, and scales.
  • Stick on extras like eyes or scales with either water or some of the beaten egg mixture.
So this recipe is gonna be our entry into the Hunger Games cooking contest! We're entering it in the Hunger Games bread category naturally. I'm sure other people will be cooking this bread for the contest too and I'm really curious to see what they come up with!

Julia :)

5 comments:

  1. This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen! I've never seen bread baked in the shape of an animal before. They are all very pretty, and I'm surprised by how detailed they are! I obviously don't know much about bread baking, so I assumed they would all puff up so much that they would hardly resemble fish.

    Also, I love your apron! It's really cute. Do you do a lot of baking or cooking?

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  2. This is freaking awesome. :) Like Jackie said, I've never seen animal shaped bread before. VERY cool, and kudos for getting it so similar to the bread mentioned in the books!

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  3. This looks really cool! But really hard. Especially when shaping it out. But mybrother always wants to try making Hunger Games food so I sent this to him as soon as I saw it! :)

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  4. Heh, I love all you Hunger Games posts! You're so creative and artistic.

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