Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Bread! Food of gods, goddesses and other critters
The other day, I made from scratch and baked my first loaf of bread -- dotted lightly with chopped walnuts, green olives (the taste of olives tickles the palate!), cereal, poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds. Yay.
At first, I was kind of uncertain, looking at the many kinds of flour and a few kinds of yeast at the supermarket. There were a few types of pre-mixed bread flour which I snubbed after considering it for a few seconds, and instead chose organic unbleached bread flour and a pack-of-three dry yeast.
An ex-colleague had given me this huge and heavy 'Bread Bible' book but I was too lazy to lug it around, so I dug into my favourite spiral-bound 'Open House' book of recipes and stories of volunteers who help feed the homeless (it's inspiring, and bought cheaply at some book fair). I found Cinnamon Cranberry Bread and modified the recipe to suit my five-hundred ingredients.
Very scary -- coz when I sprinkled the yeast into a cup of warm water (maybe it was too hot?), it didn't bubble up much after 10 minutes. Anyway I mixed it with the flour and the rest of the ingredients and halved the recipe for one loaf. I put the lump of dough in an oiled bowl and covered it with cling film to 'prove'. Put it somewhere warm, the recipe said. Geez, it was a rainy cool day so it was hard to find a warm place. After half an hour, it had only increased a bit in volume, so how to 'punch' it down?
For the second period of proving, I heated the oven to 50 degrees, switched it off, and put the bowl in it. Again, the dough only increased slightly in volume. What the hex, I thought. I preheated the oven to 180 degrees C, reshaped the dough a bit and placed it in an oiled loaf pan, and popped the whole production into the oven.
After 32 minutes, I took it out as the top was getting brown. I forgot to knock on the bottom of the pan to hear if it sounded hollow (that's to indicate readiness).
It tasted lovely though; the texture was quite dense (luckily, my partner likes bread dense and not fluffy) and had a bit too much sugar, I thought. Went well with butter and smoked raw ham and even jam.
Now my partner is converted -- last time he thought bread is not worth the trouble making. Now he thinks it is, since we're not in Germany and he can't get his "chicken food" (I call it) dark brown bread here. He even went as far as to suggest getting a bread-making machine, but I pooh-poohed it, saying, "No challenge in that!"
So the second time, I used a Jamie Oliver recipe and ... all is right with the world again. The dough rose like nobody's business. Jamie's the man!
P.S. If you're wondering why the accompanying picture is of dog-bathing and not bread-making, well, I don't want to steal any pics off the 'Net -- and, anyway, the activities are quite similar. You get a nice-smelling fresh dog at the end, too.