Breaking the bread code

My very own bread basket!

When I say I can live on bread, I really mean it. And I’ve done that too – toast and Amul butter for breakfast, a nice chicken sandwich for lunch, a stuffed bun for evening snack and foccacia with soup for dinner. Yup, I know that’s a whole load of carbs and all that yabba-dadda-do, but when it comes to bread I eat it with blinkers on. And thank heavens I’ve found a man who thinks that bread and cheese is the bestest thing you can have for breakfast!
Anyway, so coming back to my bread saga I’ve been on this quest to find and try a recipe for bread that works very well for me. That wasn’t easy. I wanted it to be eggless, but the bread needs to be light, it should have a lot of flavour, a nice crumb and even be healthy. I know it is a tall order and there was a point where for about 3-4 weekends in a row I was baking bread. The family thought I was obsessed. The friends were wondering what was wrong in baking cake instead. And the fiancé thought I was, well, just plain crazy.
Finally, fiiiinally I found this bread recipe on one of my favourite sites 101 Cookbooks and guess what? It worked! I couldn’t have been any more pleased. Of course, I did make a couple of changes to it. Since I didn’t want to do one whole loaf, the creative instinct took over, and I did mini-loaves and even a spiral. I’d some fresh thyme so I used that in some of the batter to get beautiful, scented bread. I also stuffed some cheese in one of them to get this lovely crusty bread that oozed out cheese when you broke it open. I also had some leftover pesto, so I mixed that too in the batter and got this mini-Ciabatta-like loaf that had hints of pesto. All these wonderful aromas combined with the smell of bread baking in the oven, it’s called love at first sniff!
Four-flour bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup ragi flour
½ cup oat flour
2 tbsp of wheat germ
3 tsp of active dry yeast
1 ½ cup of warm water
2 tbsp of honey
1 ½ tsp of salt
Some melted butter
Place the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir until it has all dissolved and then add the honey and mix well. Now cover and keep it aside for about 5-10 minutes until it starts becoming frothy. If it doesn’t then you need to throw the mixture away and begin afresh because this means that the yeast isn’t powerful enough.
In another bowl mix all the flours, wheat germ and salt together. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture into it. Knead until it forms a firm but slightly sticky dough. Transfer to a flat, floured surface and knead the dough with the base of your palm for about 10 minutes until it has become soft. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a damp cloth and keep it in a warm place away from sunlight and allow it to rise until it is double in size. This should take about two hours.
Remove the bread from the bowl and transfer to a smooth, floured surface and punch down the dough some more. Shape the dough into loaves, rolls or spirals and fill with cheese, garlic or herbs, if you like. Place them on a greased baking tray and brush with melted butter. Cover again with a damp cloth and allow it to rise for about 30-40 minutes more. 
The second rise
Bake the bread at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes (you’ll need to adjust time and temperature based on your oven, but this is what worked for me). The bread is done when it has turned a deep brown and is hollow when you ‘knock’ on it. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool down before slicing it. Best served with some butter.
Can you spot the cheese oozing out on the right?
  • Since there are dense flours like wheat and ragi, you need to increase the yeast a bit. This also means that the dough will take a little longer to rise as compared bread using all-purpose flour. Be patient
  • You can also add other healthy flour like buckwheat or jowar. But the gluten content is important for bread to become like, well, bread so in that case you may need to add something like acacia gum or xanthan gum. 
  • For oat flour, here’s what I did: Dry roasted the oats until it turned a little brown and then powdered it coarsely.
I’m sending this off the HITS Iron rich food at Julie’s space

And also to I love Baking #4 at Tickling Palates by Radhika

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