My first attempt to bake a bread loaf led to what could politely be called a sausage and basil pesto pie.
I had mixed the dough and all the previous night and put it to bake in the morning before going to office for breakfast. I think the problem was that the dough didn’t prove properly and hadn’t risen enough.
This is how it looked.
Still I had baked bread for breakfast and was proud of it…even if one had to live with its unconventional good looks
But I had to give bread another shot. The bread baking class that I attended at Le 15 Patisserie couldn’t go to waste. Plus the bread rolls that I tried at home had turned out to be closer to what we had in class after all
So last Saturday night I hit the ring again. This time a bigger challenge. A whole-wheat bread. Even tougher. Multi-grain.
Got the the multi-grain idea when I saw the Pillsbury multi-grain atta pack at Vijay Stores. Was disappointed to not find whole grains in it. I guess this must be because the atta is meant for making chapattis.
Shamim or @butsandifs on twitter suggested adding walnut flax seeds. I added some chopped walnuts along with chopped olives. The walnuts took the bread to another level in the final analysis. I also seasoned the dough with spices such as sumac, zatar and baharat to give it a Mediterranean flavour.
The commonly held belief is that commercial whole wheat bread has a portion of flour in it. Some even say that ‘brown’ bread in shops is regular bread coloured with caramel. And apparently there was a sign at a local Irani Bakery once which once said “real whole wheat bread cannot taste good”.
Well the thing is, as we saw in class, pure whole-wheat bread comes out a lot more dense than regular. Quite tightly packed. But that’s not the tricky part of making whole-wheat bread.
The kneading bit is a lot more trickier than when using soft well behaved processed flour. All thoughts of kneading being ‘therapeutic’ went out of the window as the flour stubbornly refused to come together. One had to keep feeding it water…little clumps formed but not a nice pillow-like dough. Finally what I did was make three ball of dough as the entire mass refused to come together at one go. Once the three dough balls became a bit firm I gently joined them and made a larger dough ball. Some frustrated punching was part of the process though not in the recipe.
I remember that the other problem the last time I made bread was that the dough didn’t ‘prove’ (rise with the yeast and heat and increase in size) enough. I guess the outside temperature wasn’t warm enough in the evening. So what I did this time was switch on the oven and then place the dough on top so that it rose in the warmth. Did work. And after the second proving I even went for a walk late at night before the bread was ready to make.
When I came back I put the dough in the oven with another tray beside it. The second tray had a leg of chicken and some mushrooms marinated in Lenny’s barbecue sauce. Both got ready in the same time. Multitasking as they say.
As I sat down for dinner at midnight I wondered if the the 3 hour long cooking process was a tad elaborate and whether it was worth it. I could have just roasted the chicken and bought bread.
But as I munched on more than 2/3rd of the loaf I was pretty sure that there was no bread in the world that would taste so sweet at that time of the night.
So here’s the recipe for the Mediterranean themed multi-grained bread which is grounded on Christina Fernandes’ recipe at the Le 15 Patisserie baking class.
- Whole-wheat/ multigrain (processed flour for white bread) 250 g
- Dry yeast 10 g or 1 teaspoon
- Sugar: 10 g
- Butter/ margarine: 10 g
- Salt: 5 g
- Filling (optional): chopped olives, chopped walnuts (the best part), spices – sumac, zatar, baharat (you could even go Italian and add oregano and chilli flakes which come with pizza deliveries) You can find all these ingredients for a good price with
- Add the sugar and the yeast to 4 tablespoons of warm water (shouldn’t scald your fingers) Let it begin to fizz a bit
- Mix the butter and the salt with your fingers and keep separately
- Put the flour on a tray/ working surface
- Make a hole in the flour. Pour in the yeast mix into the whole
- Knead this – get the flour to mix with the yeast liquid and try to form little lumps…will be pebble-like initially---keep adding spoons of water to moisten and lubricate – whole-wheat is much tougher to knead than processed – punch it if it gets to you…letting steam out helps…expect a fantastic wrist and forearm workout. What I forgot is that one should lukewarm water to knead…Christina had told us this at class… food blogger, Sharmila, of Kichu Khon, reminded me through her comment
- When the dough begins to hold and looks like a dough then add the salt and the butter mix. Knead till it’s a polite smooth ball
- Put the dough in a bowl. Cover with cling film. I just couldn’t take mine out of the roll so used a cooking foil.
- Keep in a warm area for an hour. I kept it on top of a warm oven
- This is called proving. At the end of it should double in size
- Take the dough out flatten it on a working surface. Press it a bit.
- Add the fillings. In this case – olives, walnuts, sumac, zatar, baharat. In an ideal case whole multigrain's – oat, flax seeds, wheat grain etc
- Make an envelope. Fold in the the horizontal ends first. Then the vertical ends – the two sides next
- Then roll the envelope till it looks like a log. Pinch it all over
- Put it in a greased loaf tin
- Put the tin on a warm surface to prove for an hour. Warm oven top again
- The dough needs to rise
- By which time you’d be physically exhausted and brain dead…a walk by the sea is a good idea. even if it is 11 pm
- Preheat the oven for 10 min at 200 d C
- Put in the dough in the greased tin and let it bake for 35 min at 200 d C. I roasted a chicken leg at the same time in the OTG
- Take it out.
- Let it cool
- Upturn bread tin on a flat surface. It will be hot be careful
- Pat base of tin and ease out bread
- Feel good about life
The one thing I learnt at the end of this, with apologies to Mary Antoinette, is that it is easier to bake cakes than bread.