“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Italian Sesame Bread (Vegan)


It is late morning. Grassy odour permeates the air. Our lawn is being mowed. As the machine moves and gnaws the juicy grass, a swarm of grasshoppers and nymphs and a dozen other tiny moths and winged creatures rise like smoke. They disperse and settle on the distant blades of grass till the machine reaches far end forcing them to move further.


A Brown Rock Chat is perched on the ledge of the window. She lets out a shrill whistle and swoops down to catch her prey which is in abundance here.


The weather is warm and perfect to bake bread. I braid the dough and dress it up with sesame seeds. As it rests to rise, some more mowing is done till the Sun gets strong and makes it difficult to work. 


The bread rises well and is placed in the oven. Grassy odour faints and yeasty aroma dominates. The bread is in the final stages of baking.


Sesame seeds gives a crunchy crust while the crumb is soft. This is Italian Sesame Bread.



Italian Sesame Bread
Recipe source – www.kingarthurflour.com
I used milk wash in place of egg wash as mentioned in the recipe
Ingredients
Dough
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup and 2 to 4 tablespoons warm water
Topping
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Milk wash ( ¼ cup milk, 1 tablespoon butter,2 teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt. Boil together for 5 minutes on low heat) 
Method
Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Add olive oil, mix well.
Add yeast to 1 cup warm water. Stir so that it dissolves.
Add to flour mix. Knead for 6- 8 minutes. Keep adding more water till you get a soft and supple dough.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around so that it is coated with oil all over. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hour or until double.
Transfer dough to a floured counter. Divide into three equal parts. Roll out each part into a 20 inch long rope slightly tapering at the edges. Braid the pieces, pinch the ends together and tuck them under. Place on the greased baking tray. Cover and keep for 1 ½ hours or until double in size.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Brush the braid with milk wash and sprinkle sesame seeds.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or till it is golden brown. Tent with a foil if the top is browning too fast.
Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

My Notes - Avoid milk and butter to  get a vegan topping. Boil water and sugar.Cool before brushing.
  


Monday, 28 September 2015

100% Whole Wheat Batter Bread | 100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread | No Knead Atta Bread



We woke up to a clear morning…the way it is in autumn- Cloudless sky with crisp morning Sun that is pleasantly warm. A swarm of dragonflies buzzed around our pond, getting attention of a baby garden lizard hiding in the curry leaf plant. Its tiny head moved in sync with the movement of the dragonflies which it assumed to be its prey but was too reluctant to dart and grab one, or was still learning the nuances of hunting.   


By afternoon, some stray clouds gathered and rumbled. They rumbled and rattled with flashes of lightening followed by deafening thunder. Soon there was a good downpour. A white cheeked bulbul sang in the branches of the mango tree, enjoying rain.


Plan of baking a whole wheat bread was tweaked a bit. 



Instead of regular loaf, a batter bread was baked. Just one rise and a yeasty loaf is ready for dinner. Simple and easy recipe that comes in handy when you have less time and you want to bake a bread.


100% Whole Wheat Batter Bread | 100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread | No Knead Atta Bread
Recipe source – www.kingarthurflour.com
I used honey in place of molasses, maple syrup, dark corn syrup, or brown sugar corn syrup. My requirement of water was also slightly more.
Ingredients                                               
1 cup lukewarm water (you may require more water if the batter seems little  dry & not mixing well)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
¼ cup milk powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups whole wheat flour (Atta)
Method
Heavily grease one 8 ½ inches x 4 ½ inches loaf pan. Sprinkle corn meal or whole wheat flour.
Combine all the ingredients. Beat the mixture well. Ensure a homogenous texture. I used a steel ladle. If you are using an electric mixture, set on a high speed. The dough will be very sticky. Scoop it into the prepared pan.
Keep the pan in a warm place. Cover it with a greased plastic wrap. I kept mine inside the oven without the wrap. Let it rise for an hour or till it crests slightly above the rim of the pan. In the last stages of rising, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Bake for 45-50 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. The top should turn golden brown.

Cool in the rack. Slice when cold or slice next day.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Garlic and Herbs Pull Apart Bread



 It is late evening, the night is spreading its wings- slowly and silently. The contours of the trees are faintly visible against the sky that is soaking in darkness moment by moment.  Silhouettes of giant bats are perceptible as they dash into the Ashoka tree laden with ripe fruit. There is an audible rustle as nocturnal guests come in great numbers and are joined by many more. Night gains a sinister aspect when the silence is torn by squeaking of bats and screaming of civet cats. The bedlam is over as day breaks. Now is time for Cuckoos, Barbets, Mynas and many more to feast on the fruit. Yesterday we spotted a jungle Myna in the tree.


We have some mixed herbs at home procured from the community shops in the hills. Oregano, Thyme and Italian spice mix fill up our pantry with the sweet aroma. We decide to use them in a bread and a Garlic pull apart bread is planned. 


We sprinkle the dry herbs liberally between the buttered layers of dough and pop the bread into the hot oven. As bread begins to brown, our home smells like heaven. 


We lovingly pull out the herby buttery sections and enjoy the bread with soup.



Garlic and Herbs Pull Apart Bread
Ingredients
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed herbs of choice or Italian dry herbs
8 – 10 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup warm water plus more if needed
4 tablespoons butter
8-10 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
Method
Dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
Add milk and olive oil to this mixture.
Whisk together first three ingredients, 1 teaspoon herb mix and half of the minced garlic.
Knead dough by adding liquid ingredients. Knead for about 6-8 minutes till dough becomes soft and elastic. Add more water if needed. Dough should be really soft but not sticky.
Shape into a ball and transfer it into a greased bowl. Turn around so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1 hour or until  double.
Punch dough and transfer it to a floured counter. Roll out into a rectangle of about 12 x 20 inches.
Generously brush with 3 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle cheese, remaining herbs and garlic.
Cut into five equal strips, layering one on top of the other. Cut the strips into six equal stacks.
Transfer the stacks into a generously greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until double.
Drizzle with the remaining butter and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Tent with a foil if the top is browning too fast. Remove from oven after 10 minutes.
Cool in the rack. Serve warm.



Friday, 4 September 2015

Yeasted Cornmeal bead


It is the fag end of monsoons. Clouds do linger in the sky most of the time but it seldom rains and an occasional drizzle suffuses the air with the earthy scent but makes it hot and humid. It is a hot afternoon and the Sun is quite strong in spite of the scattered clouds that cover it every now and then. 


We noticed two juvenile squirrels playing in the trunk of a fish tail palm. They chased each other, going around the moss laden trunk in circles and reached the grassy ground below.



 One of them found    something that we assumed to be a piece of bread and rushed up to one side of the trunk munching it. Soon, the other squirrel reached there and the first one handed over her morsel to her. 


We marveled at their camaraderie ship and selflessness. It was a beautiful sight. Soon they lunged at the low branches of Mussaenda and then leaped on to the higher branches of Neem tree, and  chasing each other, they  were out of sight. There is so much to learn from nature.


Hot and humid weather is excellent for baking breads. A cornmeal bread is being baked. Yeasty aroma spreads all around indicating that the bread is done. Cornmeal lends a yellowish tinge to the bread and makes it airy and light. 


 The crust is soft and the crumb is fluffy.  

Yeasted Cornmeal Bread
Ingredients
2 ½ cups all- purpose flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (makki ka atta)
1 cup lukewarm water
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast.
Method
Whisk together flours and salt. Add olive oil and mix well.
Mix together water and yeast. Add honey.
Start kneading by adding a little water at a time. Keep kneading till you use up almost all water and a slightly sticky dough is obtained.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn around so that it is coated with oil on all sides. Cover and leave in a warm dry place to rise for 1 hour or till double.
Punch dough and transfer to the counter sprinkled with some all-purpose flour.
Shape it into a log by rolling out into a rectangle (about 8 inches wide) and then rolling towards you tightly. Pinch seams to seal and tuck in the sides.
Place it in an oiled loaf pan (8x4 inches) with seam side down and leave to rise for one hour or till double.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes. The top should brown evenly and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from loaf pan after 10 minutes.
Cool in the rack, slice next day.



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