A trip to the hills happened last weekend. Unplanned trips are always thrilling and exciting and specially if it to the hills. Excitedly we packed a few clothes, not forgetting the woollens. Autumn is the best time in the hills. The sky is cloudless, afternoons warm, mornings and evenings nippy. Excitement is to stop by some forest and have food, walk in the narrow tracks, watch the birds and chase butterflies. Communion with nature always brings peace and happiness.
We stopped midway to stretch out our jammed limbs and loved the rustle of the wind as it passed through massive pine trees.
A day before we started our journey, two loaves of Onion Cheese Bread were baked. Sometimes, finding simple food of your choice in the hills is not easy. With kids who feel hungry at the most unexpected hours, it is best to carry bread. One can eat it with cheese spread or butter, dip in the tea or milk and even have with some veggie.
Next day, we trekked on a narrow trail flanked by pine trees. The cobbled path was mossy, slippery and damp as monsoons stayed and overstayed this year. Having spotted a meadow, we sat down to get our breath back.
Some children playing in their courtyard in a house nearby smiled at us. Soon we were all perched on the flattish rocks warmed by the Sun, munching homemade bread sandwiches which we shared with the village kids. Their cherubic smiles won our heart.
Onion Cheese Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup lukewarm water
¼ cup water at room temperature
¼ teaspoon yeast (instant dry yeast)
Mix yeast and warm water and let stand until creamy, about 10 ten minutes.
Add remaining water to yeast mixture. Add half cup flour. Stir with a spoon until well combined. Add remaining flour and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until sticky dough forms.
Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 -24 hours or until the starter is triple its volume. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
¾ cup biga
½ cup warm milk
½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons honey
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast
4 ½ cups all- purpose flour
2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups minced onion
In a bowl, mix milk and ¼ cup water. Stir in honey. Add yeast. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes, until frothy.
In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cheese and onions.
To knead dough, break up biga and add to yeast mixture. Stir until fairly mixed.
Add dry ingredients slowly and keep stirring. When you’ve added all the dry ingredients, transfer shaggy dough to the floured counter. Knead for about 6 to 8 minutes. If the dough feels dry, add more water.
Minced onions make dough moist. Adjust water quantity accordingly.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until double.
Scrape the dough into floured counter. Punch the dough and divide into two equal pieces.
Roll out each piece into one 8 inch x 10-inch rectangle and then roll up into a log. Pinch seams to seal. Shape the logs like baguettes (long and narrow at the edges)
Place the logs on a greased baking tray. Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise or 45 minutes or until puffy.
Sprinkle flour on the surface and give three diagonal cuts quickly with a sharp knife.
Bake in preheated oven at 220 degrees C for about 25 minutes or until the top turns a golden brown.
Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.