Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Let the crumbs lead the way

There is something very satisfying about making bread at home.
A product which is ignored in our daily life until the morning, you realize you are out of it. It occupies a compact little place in your kitchen and in your diet. You always, always have bread at home.
I cannot pin point the moment or day that i decided to bake my own bread, but the minute i decided i wanted to, i knew there was no way,now, that i was not going to.

After scouring Google and Youtube, i settled for starting with a plain white (maida) bread recipe. Time for complications and variations will come later.

And even if everyone says it is tough, it is one of the easiest baking and kneading that i ever had to do. Do not let the words "yeast" and "kneading" scare you. It is quite simple.
I always cook by intuition, rather than specific measurement, so please bear with me when i cannot give you the exact details - just follow your gut!

Makes one loaf of bread. 

Mine turned out smaller in height than a loaf because my loaf mold was huge for my batter. If you double the ingredients, or have a smaller loaf mold, yours might juts look like the store bought bread!

Ingredients -

1. Warm water - 0.5 cups
2. Yeast - 1 teaspoon
3. Sugar - 1 tablespoon
4. Butter (i used normal salted Amul butter, you can opt for unsalted) - 1 tbsp
5. Milk - 0.5 cup
6. All purpose flour (maida) - approximately - 2.5 cups 
7. Oil - a little bit
8. 2 bowls
9. Baking tray / loaf mold


1. Warm 1/2 cup of water in the microwave, for 10 seconds. Add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp yeast and let it sit. 
TIP - Yeast is easy to work with. I used dry active yeast that you get in any grocery store. Use water that is barely warm. You do not want hot water that will kill the yeast! 
Let the mixture sit for 5 - 7 mins. After that just stir it and if the yeast has completely dissolved in the water, you have unlocked that level and moved on to the next in the game of "bake your own bread!"

2. Melt butter in bowl, add milk and whisk. Add the yeast mixture to this and add flour (in half cup batches) till you get a lumpy batter that you can remove onto your counter top and knead.

3. Knead for a good 10-15 minutes, and keep adding flour in half cup measures, till the dough is not sticky anymore. It should be springy to touch. If you press it down with a finger it should spring back. It took about 2.5 - 3 cups for me to achieve that result and about 12 minutes of kneading.
When you knead, don't press down, rather stretch the dough. 

4. Make it into a nice round ball. Coat another big bowl with oil and toss the dough call in it. Move the dough ball about in the bowl to cover all sides with oil. Cover and keep near a warm place. I had to keep mine for 1.5 hours - 2 hours to get an actual rise in the dough.
Warmer temperatures are ideal.

5. After about 2 hours, take the dough out and roll into a ball, two if you plan to make two loaves, and keep the ball (s) aside for 10 minutes.

6. Since loaf mold are rectangular, start stretching the sough ball into a rough rectangle. Once it becomes rectangular, fold one long side of it inside and then the other long side. Where the two sides meet, pinch the dough together. Do this along the length of the rectangle and also the sides. This should give you a nice taut surface under neath which will become the top of your bread. Repeat the folding in from both long sides of the rectangle to get a tauter shape and top.
Place in the mold and keep it to rest for 30 mins. Make sure you have lined the mold with non stick cooking spray or oil.
You can also add a splash of beaten egg yolk on the top to give it a nice golden colour (with a brush if you want to be fancy, or even the back of a spoon will do :) )

7. Preheat oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Just before putting the baking tray, turn the temperature down to 190 degrees Celsius.
Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, bake for 2-4 minutes with only the top heater on. Keep a close eye on the bread. This is the stage at which the bread might burn! You know the bread in done when you can tap the bottom of it and a hollow sound follows. Like its hard on the outside but hollow on the inside! (Reminds me of someone's head!)

Remove from the oven, allow it to cool down (or not) and eat your fresh home made bread!

Helpful links

1. Beginner Guide to making bread
2. Bread Making tips

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