Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I had a dream. A dream of a beautiful domed loaf of home made, hand-kneaded bread; squatting on my kitchen table. And that dream is squatting in front of me right now. Big, bulky, bronzed and beautiful.
This is the largest loaf I have made since I overcame the challenges and fear of yeast several years ago. And since I fought off the aghast and horror of all that kneading.
The aroma that wafted through the house as the bread was baking in the oven, the aroma that permeated every dust filled nook, crack and cranny in our home was almost as good as the aroma of toasted belacan. Heady, with the power of making you agreeable to almost anything that was asked of you - in exchange for the source of that aroma of course. The aroma of toasting belacan over an open flame, however, would have been a more intoxicating, heart-melting, finger gripping bargain but bread comes as a pretty close second.
...ummm......well.....maybe third...after the pungent aroma of salty fish in sizzling hot oil. An aroma that would make your knees buckle and detach your eyeballs at the same time. If you're Malaysian of course.
But there is nothing that can beat the warm glowing feeling that grows inside of you at the sight of a loaf of bread, freshly baked, wrapped in a tea towel and sitting on the kitchen table basking in the morning light. Love the sight!
So I thought that this would be a good post even though there is nothing mysterious or exotic in a bread recipe. This recipe yields one ultra huge loaf and one French loaf and is very soft without the use of any bread softeners. So enjoy!
1 kg bread flour, plain or wholemeal
15 gm dried yeast
1/4 cup oil
3 tsp salt
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 water
Mix yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 cup of lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves and leave to rest, covered until the mixture froths.
Meanwhile sift flour and add to the frothed yeast mixture. Add sugar and salt. Add oil and then the remaining water, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups. Mix with a wooden spoon at first and finally with your hand when the mixture begins to come together.
Turn out onto a floured board or table and knead for 3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in a lightly greased large bowl and let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth until doubled in size or when an indentation made by your finger remains.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead again for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes and then knead again for 3 minutes, shape or place in mould after which you let rest again for the dough to rise for about 1 hour, brush the tops with milk and then bake at 190 C.
A large loaf would take about 1 to 1/1/4 hours and the French loaf would take 45 minutes. A good test would be when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
How to shape a regular loaf :
Roll out the dough into a rectangle then roll like a swiss roll. Place in the mould, let rise for about 1 hour, brush top with milk then bake.
How to shape a French loaf :
Roll into a sausage shape and make 1 cm scores on the surface before letting it rise the last time for about 1 hour. Brush top with milk. Bake.
French loaf, sliced....
I made garlic bread with it and ate it with pineapple salsa...YUM
TIP : Don't forget to brush top with milk. The milk gives the top a beautiful shine when baked.
TIP : When putting into the oven be gentle and don't shake or bang the risen dough otherwise it will just deflate and you will have to knead and let rise again.