And yes, I mean brown bread. Whole wheat bread, in the truest form of the term. Made with the same flour that I use to make chapatis. And it was soft and cooked all the way through and except for the shape, it was every bit as good as store bought bread.
(makes one loaf)
2 cups wheat flour (plus a couple of tablespoons, for dusting)
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon gluten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1. Add the yeast and the sugar to the water and let it sit for 10 minutes, so that the yeast can cultivate.
2. Sieve the wheat flour and the gluten into a bowl, for uniformity, and add the oil, salt, egg and the yeast mixture in and knead into a smooth dough. Continue to knead well for 5-10 minutes.
3. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. Add a few table spoons of flour to achieve the desired consistency, if required.
4. Oil a large vessel and place the dough in to to rest for a few hours, covering with a damp cloth (or until doubled in size).
5. Once the dough has risen sufficiently, pre-heat the oven to 180C and knead the dough into the shape of a loaf. If you have a bread tin, grease it and set the dough into it, else, you can work with a round mound of dough.
6. Brush the top of the mound of dough with some vegetable oil or a beaten egg, and sprinkle sesame seeds or dried onions or herbs and garlic and bake for 30-40 minutes.
7. Let it cool completely (20-30 minutes) before cutting it.
1. I made the mistake of being hasty and trying to cut the bread while it was still warm. I ended up not being able to cut perfect slices.
2. Undoubtedly my best baked bread, ever! I made a portion of baked beans to go with it for dinner that evening. And cooked some eggs, sunny side up, the following morning because who doesn’t like dunking good bread in runny yolks and making the most of Sunday brunch!
3. Yes, I know using gluten isn’t the healthiest thing to do. But here’s the thing gluten is protein. Gluten is made by processing wheat flour and regular wheat flour is therefore, devoid of the extra protein content that gluten may have given it, had it not been extracted before hand. All purpose flour (maida) already has enough gluten content in it.
4. A little under 1% people are gluten intolerant – the most common symptoms of intolerance being tummy trouble and cramps.
5. Gluten helps bread cook better – it gives elasticity to dough and lightness to the bread, in itself.
6. There are enough people who think gluten isn’t healthy. But here’s my take on the whole deal. I don’t eat bread very often. In fact, in my one year in Bangalore, I’ve ended up buying bread only thrice. And I’ve baked some about 4 times. That still puts me at once a month, even if I stretch it. And I’m sure my system can handle that much gluten. People who claim gluten is unhealthy are probably the kind who live off bread diets. Well, that’s not very healthy to begin with, right?
1. The crust of the bread was hard and non-shiny. I intend to fix that in the upcoming weeks, when I bake some more bread. The pleasure of baking good bread, is unparalleled.
2. I wish I’d used a bread tin. I don’t own one. But come February, and I will.
Like I mentioned, I made some baked beans to go with the bread Saturday evening.
1 cup of rajma beans, soaked for 7-8 hours and boiled
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Tabasco, to taste
salt, to taste
1/2 an onion, minced or finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 large tomato, pureed or finely chopped
Oil, to cook
Chopped coriander, to garnish
Mozzarella cheese, to garnish
Wedges of lime, to serve
Small cubes of butter, to serve
1. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic in it, until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Now add the spices, tabasaco (add more, if you like it spicy), the salt and the beans (along with the water they were soaked/boiled in) and cook until the excess water from the beans and the tomatoes has boiled off, leaving a mushy mixture of porridge-like consistency.
4. Butter a few slices of bread (you may want to toast them just a little, if the bread is too soft, to prevent the beans from making the bread soggy).
5. Layer the bread with some of the bean mixture. Grate some mozzarella cheese over it and bake at 180C for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
6. Garnish with coriander and serve with a wedge of lime and a dollop of molten butter over the beans. The dash of lime and that extra butter do wonders to enhance the taste of the dish as a whole, they do!