… are awesome. My younger brother is, anyway, whether he can bake or not 😀 But, the fact that he has, and has motivated me to, is awesomer yet 🙂 🙂 Truly! So, let’s just go back a bit, now that the appreciation has been recorded, and will be acknowledged soon enough – read, when he sees this 😀
Over the weekend, as I was preparing to visit home, for the Onam vacation, having cancelled, rather sadly, a longer trip to meet the elder son and my DIL, Vinu calls and tells me he’s actually baked a loaf of bread. I was amazed, for though my brother is an exemplary household help, in every which way, and makes the best doshas, and has forayed into other dishes, it is usually his wife, Tripti, who is the one who experiments and bakes the most wonderful dishes! And here he was telling me about this accomplishment! I applauded, asked for the recipe, and wondered when the heck I’d get to doing it. Making bread, for me, is a most complex task, one fraught with dangers and fall-flat-on-your-face kind of results. But, as always, Vinu gave hope 😀
He sent me the recipe via email, and I didn’t even check it till yesterday. It has to be the most entertaining of recipes I’ve read to date; a warm, funny, fuzzy woman had written it, for sure; someone who is so empathetic! You’ll understand why, as you read it – I’ll copy paste it, later.
Next, yesterday afternoon, he send me the picture he took of his creation. Boy O Boy! Was I impressed!!! Mom too. He called this morning to give me some tips that worked for him; this picture is his third attempt; the first one being, well, forgettable, the second better, and the third, as you can see, almost professional! I scrawled the tips all over the printed sheet, and said I’d do it with Atta, instead of Maida. After a tiny silence he gently prompted, well, would you want to see if it works with Maida, and then go on, towards Atta? Lol. It worked. It always does 😀 So I went ahead, got the ingredients out – just 4-5 of them, and NO EGG. Before I proceed, let me add the recipe here, so that you have that laugh, as I did, while kneading. You wouldn’t understand my wanting to giggle as I kneaded it, otherwise 😛
Simple Bread Recipe
2 cups warm water, not hot or you will kill your yeasty friends
2 teaspoons yeast—a packet contains 2.25 teaspoons–close enough.
2 teaspoons salt
5-ish cups flour, all-purpose is fine unless you wish to alter it for health reasons
Mix the yeast into the water.
Combine the salt with two or three cups of flour.
Add the flour/salt duo to the water, stirring…or enlisting younger arms to stir for you.
Add more flour and continue to stir until the dough holds together and is not wet.
Dump the dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead. (If you don’t know how to knead bread dough, just fake it. This is very forgiving bread.) Add more flour as needed, but don’t overdo it. A little sticky is fine—too dry is not so fine.
Knead until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. If you have no baby’s bottom at hand to compare it to, give it the stretch test. Hold the dough up to the light and stretch a portion of it. If you can see light through it before it breaks, congrats! You’re finished. If not, give it a little more tender lovin’ care. We knead this dough about ten minutes. (Sometimes we cheat and knead less. We’ve yet to be ostracized for our occasional laissez-faire kneading attitude.)
Shape the bread into two or three Italian-shaped loaves or several mini-loaves. Do this by pressing the dough flat and folding it into thirds, or by rolling it up.
Put the ugly seamed side down and tuck under the ends.
Place the loaves on a lightly greased pan. Optionally, shape two shorter loaves and place them in greased loaf pans for “bread-shaped bread.” Grease the top (I like butter), and cover with plastic wrap or a flour sack towel. Set in a warm place to rise—the oven is too warm for rising and will kill your yeast, but the top of the refrigerator is just fine.
Let those babies rise until about doubled in size, or until you get tired of waiting, whichever comes first. We wait anywhere from 30 minutes on a hungry, summer’s day to an hour and a half on an oops-did-we-forget-about-the-bread day. Normally, 45 minutes should do it.
Preheat the oven to 232 degrees C. (My girls bake at 232 degrees, and I bake at 218 because I like the little time cushion for when (not if) I get distracted and wander somewhere that I can’t hear the oven timer. I won’t tell you whose bread my husband likes better.) Preheat for 20 minutes if you have baking stones in your oven.
Slash the top of the loaves several times diagonally for that authentic, fresh-from-a-French-bakery look.
Put the dough in the oven. (If you want to use baking stones, slide the loaves off the pans and onto the stones.) Spritz the interior of the oven with water. (This is optional, but gives the out-of-the-pan loaf a more tender crust. Some people have had trouble with stones and a few oven doors cracking from spritzing a very hot oven with cold water, so you may opt for a heavy duty pan with a couple cups of water set on another rack in the oven. Or skip it. Honestly, I skip it. We’re going for simple here.
Some of my girls spritz the loaf and the sides of the oven.) Set the timer for roughly 12 to 15 minutes, although it may take up to 20 minutes or more, depending on the size of your loaves and whether or not they are in pans.
Because all ovens, pans, doughs, and bakers are different, use this reliable test to see if your bread is done. Traditionally, cooks tap the bread; if it sounds hollow, it’s done. It always sounds hollow to me when I’m hungry and smelling fresh bread. Therefore, I take an instant read thermometer and insert it into the ugliest part of the bread where nobody will notice a hole. If the temp reads 190 to 210, it’s done.
Remove, cool briefly, slice, eat. Personally, I believe bread is a means of transporting butter to the mouth, so I say load on the butter!
Entertaining, wasn’t it? I’ve deliberately italicized the real fun parts 🙂
I got the water, just right, (** Tips: as he said, dip your finger in it and it should be hot enough, just not to hurt :D) ; did the rest of the things he suggested (which was to halve the ingredients, except the yeast, and then do it, for starters), and then came the kneading! Push out with heel of palm, fold in, push out again… except that it was real sticky, and I was getting mad. Then I kept thinking about the required consistency, the baby’s bottom wala rule 😛 And that got me laughing and giggling and asking mom every now and then if the baby bottom rule had been achieved! It was fun!
The rest of it followed as instructed, and in a very square pan, it went in, like this 😀 And came out quite ok!
Wow! For me! And for Vinu! Ta-da! Please do try it! Ambitiously, mom and I plan to try the same thingy with whole wheat, and throw in a bit of garlic and sesame seeds for good effect. Vinu assures me it will work! This, after a loud guffaw!
Thanks Vinu! It really was fun! Now I’ve got to try the Walnut cake recipe you sent. Soon.
**Tips: In the lukewarm water, sprinkle half teaspoon of sugar; then sprinkle yeast – do not stir
Add flour bit by bit; stop if your dough is becoming dryish; sticky is good, not too sticky of course. (Psst mine was real sticky 😛 )
I did not manage to even shape it, as it was SO sticky. Still, it’s okay 😀
I baked at 210 deg. C. Also, I kept the dough in the oven, slightly preheated, switched off, and left to cool a bit. Helped it to rise better I think. My brother’s tips 🙂
And Pssst… I am not sure where the recipe is from, but will find out and add the website here soon. Do excuse till then.
Disclaimer: The Simple Bread Recipe belongs to the wonderful person who wrote it. I just feel so sad that I don’t have a name to go by, to thank!
19 September, 2013
This post comes as a response to the Write Tribe’s Free Write theme for this week. I have been infrequent here, and elsewhere owing to a bad back, and reading that motivating post, on Write Tribe, made me want to do my bit. And the prompt was handed on that platter, along with the loaf of bread, by my brother 🙂 16 minutes is what it took, just typing in; till before the date. The copy-paste, proof-reading and pictures, extra time 🙂