I have been toying with the idea of baking some bread from a very very long time. But attempting to bake bread is intimidating. The very thought of all the possibilities that could go wrong loom large in front of my eyes. Yet, that fateful day, I decided to take the plunge. And I usually take risks when someone is coming over for dinner. Silly? Hmm..Thats me.
I experiment most when I have guests over. Feeling all the while for those poor little guinea pigs aches my heart, but still I go ahead with my bold ventures. You know, how it is when something comes to your mind and you want to do it then and there, at that time only.. yea… it happens a lot to me. I know, no justification for my mindless endeavors.
I was particularly going through a very busy day. The husband had crazy conference calls from dawn till dusk(he works from home), Milee was being annoyingly demanding, a doctor’s appointment, one absent maid and my favorite brother in law over for dinner. My best half suggested we go out, but I was attacked by that untimely, unpropitious bug of creating something new! So, ignoring his proposal, I go all out and BIZARRE! He shook his head, knowing very well the intensity of the bug bite.
I greatly admire Aparna’s My diverse Kitchen. Adapting and recreating the magic with her dishes is a huge learning experience for me. Having bookmarked innumerable recipes from her site, I dug this one out, and set about making it among the chaos reigning large in my house and in my head. Hoping that cheese, herbs and some fabulous warm bread might soothe out my wrinkely nerves.
Since its my maiden attempt to bake something that looks so formidable… I have stuck to refined all purpose flour(not healthy)but my later attempts(after I become a little better at baking) would be to eliminate the refined flours and adopt the whole grains. But as of now, bear with me.
While making this bread, I filled the entire bread pan with the dough, and the leftover dough was rolled into small tiny bite sized rolls. Now, while baking, these bite sized bits turn out exceptionally well.. better than the original bread baking in the pan. They are light, crisp and golden. So, hence forth I’ve decided to make these rolls with the dough instead of the pull bread. Its easier and they bake uniformly. So, you could try a bit of both to see what works for you.
For step by step pictorial refer here:
For the Dough:
- ½ cup warm milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2¾ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 25gm butter, soft at room temperature
- ¾ to 1 tsp garlic paste
- ¾ cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
For the Filling:
- 15 gm melted butter
- 2 tsp dried Provencal or mixed herbs*
- 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
- Crushed pepper/ red chilli flakes to taste
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- (or any kind of herbs you like)
1. Dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the ½ cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up. (If you use instant yeast, the waiting time is not necessary as it wont bubble up)
2. Put the flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in a large bowl
3. Mix well with your hand or do it in a food processor.
4. Then add the yeast mixture and the remaining milk.
5. Start kneading. Keep mixing until it all comes together. You could do this in an electric mixer or food processor too. Knead for 10-15 minutes until you get a smooth, elastic dough. If the dough is too sticky, you can add a couple spoons of flour.
6. Place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil
7. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1½ hours or until almost double in volume.
8. Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough & place it in the work counter Shape it into a rough square with the help of your hands
9. Roll the dough out into a larger square. (roll it our as thinly as possible, maintaining the shape)
10. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the herbs, pepper/ chilli flakes and the cumin seeds and then the grated cheese. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
11. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect.
12. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips. You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater.
13. Cut straight down through the stack dividing it into equal pieces (6-8 square stacks). First cut the strip in half. Then cut each part in half & quarter & so on. If the is any excess dough, cut it off.
14. Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin
15. If you have excess dough, roll it out long; sprinkle with herbs & cheese.
16. Roll it into a log & cut into swirly rolls.
17. Once the pieces are stacked, cover the loaf tin with a damp cloth. Let it rise for an hour or so.
18. Preheat the oven at 180 C (if you’re baking in OTG) or 160 C (if its a convection oven). Bake for 30 -40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.
19. Serve warm.
Note: I took exactly half the measurements of the above ingredients as it was my very first. I was mad enough to attempt it on a
harrowing day but not mental enough to waste food if it turned out to be a dud. 😉
Note: Reduce the garlic paste or eliminate altogether from the dough, tastes better. I forgot to add it to the flour, and mine
tasted good as the mixed herbs had enough garlic in them.
Milee had to be picked from a near by building where she had gone for a class. It was already evening, the sun was about to set soon. And I was eager to take pictures before it turned dark. I also wanted a new setting. I grabbed the bread, camera and all, reached 15 minutes before the kid’s class got over. To my luck there was a fabulous well scratched rough looking painter’s stool/table lying desolately in the car parking area of the building. My joy knew no bounds. What a steal!! I make the settings and holler to a very sweet friend who stays just above the magical podium. She thought I was a nut to go bonkers on a rough dilapidated looking stool. She changed her mind ofcourse. 😉
If you have noticed(mostly you would have), the color on the bread is not very golden, it needed a little more baking time. But I had to do the pictures before it got dark. After the shoot, the bread was back in the oven for a good 10 more minutes, and the result rocked completely.
And no, I could not steal the stool. It was too big to be sneaked out. But the good old friend of mine has assured that it will always be there and I am welcome anytime to come and shoot away. 🙂 lucky me!
Note: For those dear friends and readers who saw the Lasagna making pictures on my FB page, here is the party pooper: I clicked away the step by step assembling of the lasagna, but it was a pot luck dish, and I took it over to a cousin’s place, where in the get together, I forgot to click the final outcome and the serves. So sorry, the dish will not be featuring any time now. But soon, I will make it again and post the fabulous vegan egg free Lasagna. So, till then, make bread!