Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baking The Basic Bread

Fresh from the oven. I tend to go overboard with the sesame seeds...love that crunch!

Baking and that too bread, came rather late in life to me. The thought of proving the dough, keeping it in a warm place, proving again, all that seemed a long and tedious process to me. Comparatively, our Indian flatbreads did not need that much of effort and they were always considered easy to make. Growing up with seeing something made in the family kitchen made it all seem more effortless.It was much later that I started to appreciate the process itself and long and tedious are certainly not the words that I would associate with bread-making. It's a creation that is satisfying and although I've read about this much earlier than I actually got to experience it, the smell of bread in the oven is heart-warming. Since then I've had countless such moments, and every moment is still as loved, and as precious as the first.
But that doesn't mean that I haven't had my failures. Who baked the hardest bread? Me! And whose dough did not rise? Mine! Blame it on the yeast or whatever the causes, am I glad I didn't give up! 
Plain buns and dinner rolls with black sesame seeds

The kind of platter that I love: fresh bread, fried sausages, and cucumber with crushed peanuts

The recipe that I follow for the basic dough remains the same.

1 level tablespoonful dried yeast (I use Tesco)
2 level tablespoonfuls sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
450 grams of flour 
Some vegetable oil/olive oil or melted butter+ extra for greasing the bowl
Warm water

  1. Heat some water in a pan till it comes to a comfortable hand temperature. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast and if it is not warm enough, the dough will take a longer time to rise.
  2. Put the yeast and a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl. Pour some of the warm water, give it a gentle mix and leave it in a warm place for about 15 minutes. The yeast is ready when you see the froth on the surface.
  3. The remaining sugar and salt should be added to the water that is left in the pan.
  4. Put the flour in a large bowl or clean working surface and rub the oil or butter into it.
  5. Form the flour in a circular wall and pour the dissolved yeast in the centre.
  6. Start mixing by flicking the flour from the outside of the ring into the liquid in the centre. When the liquid has absorbed enough flour to form a sticky dough, work in the rest of the flour.
  7. Knead the dough for about eight to ten minutes. The texture will turn smoother as you work the outside of the dough continuously to the centre.
  8. Grease a large mixing bowl and drop the dough in it. Cover it with a damp kitchen cloth and keep it in a warm place to rise. It will double in size after 40-45 minutes.
  9. Put the dough on a lightly floured working surface and knead it to distribute the air evenly adding as little extra flour as possible. The dough is now ready to be shaped into how you want to bake your bread.
  10. Before the bread goes into a hot oven, brush with beaten egg and scatter (optional) the seeds of your choice. 


For the sesame seed knots I roll the dough into  sausage shapes and tie them in knots. I love adding plenty of sesame seeds or flax seeds. I also like to add herbs and some coarsely grated pepper depending on what kind of bread I'm baking. There are several recipes I'd love to try out and I think I'll soon be getting there.

Happy baking to you all!
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