”Bread is used to eat with as much as it is eaten. A piece of bread is used as a secondary fork and then is used to wipe the plate clean of every last morsel. Indeed, for many, culinary life begins with bread as mothers give their babies a hard crust on which to cut their teeth” Bread, Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.
My affair with bread started when I was 14 and did a trip to the U.S to my aunt Jaquetta’s house. She’d baked some fresh dinner rolls and as we entered, the whole house welcomed us with the smell of freshly baked bread… a true treat to the senses.
She smiled as she brought those golf sized golden rolls stuck to each other straight out of the oven — and I swooned — that and some butter which instantly melted into them…something happened….
Didn’t venture into baking many years after that but it stayed in my sub conscious, unconscious, call it what you will….and when it came back, it came back in a huge way.
”Basically, it’s just you and the dough – ripening, maturing, baking, blossoming together” The Tassaraja Cookbook.
Yes, its magic that happens in the oven when you bake bread.
I’d hate to hurry the process and deprive myself the joy of sweet anticipation in waiting for my loaves to rise, then egg washing it and seeing it glisten, adding some poppy seeds, pearl sugar or whatever i fancy, and then waiting a lil’ more for that final rise until I shove it into the oven for the magic to happen…the natural sugars inside the wheat grain caramelizing from the intense oven heat, thereby turning them golden brown, the alcohol produced by the yeast evaporating totally after its done its job and the salt having done its silent action of modifying flavor, adding crust color and strengthening and preventing the gluten strands from breaking.
Yes, I believe like the masters of the art, that ”The best bread is built in stages, and thus has many levels.”
My No. I recipe I go to is Peter Reinhart’s Soft Sandwich Bread and Rolls from the Enriched Breads section in Artisan Breads Everyday, especially when I bake large scale. But now that am home at mom and dad’s, I go to the recipes that yield just enough to feed a family of four — rolls which take care of dinner and may have a left over or two for the mornings…2 of those recipes work perfectly for me and to date, I can’t decide which one I like best….One of them is a King Arthur Flour Recipe and the other is from the lovely blog, Home Cooking in Montana by Ellie, which is what I baked first…the pictures of her bread were compelling and I just had to bake them — am so thankful I did, they turned out light, soft and pillowy — just like she said they would.
Here it is from homecookinginmontana.blogspot.in:
3 1/3 cup Flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS oil
1 cup warm water (110 deg F)
1 large egg, beaten
1 egg beaten for brushing the tops of the rolls
1. Combine flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl.
2. Add sugar, oil and beaten egg to the water. Pour over dry flour mixture.
3. Knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be tacky, not sticky. If you notice that the dough is dry add a bit more warm water 1 TBS at a time while kneading.
4. Form into a ball and put it into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic.
5. Let rise till doubled, about an hour. Grab a small golf size piece of dough and form into a ball. If it is too sticky to form, use oiled hands to form the rolls.
6. Place rolls on a greased cookie sheet. Brush the tops with a beaten egg. You can sprinkle sesame seed/poppy seeds at this point if you want.
7. Let rise till doubled, another hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Bake for 12 -15 minutes. Rotate your pans. Check to see that the tops are golden.
Have added a brief jist as to the role of some of the ingredients and why they are in there:
Yeast : A living, single celled fungus, which feeds on the sugars and starches in the bread dough producing Alcohol (Ethanol) and Carbon Dioxide trapped in the dough, forcing it to rise.
Eggs : Makes the bread lighter, more airy, tender and aids in color.
Oil : Makes a richer tasting, cakier bread and helps preserve freshness.
Flour : When flour is mixed with water, Gluten is formed from 2 proteins in the flour, which contribute to the stretchiness and elasticity of the dough.
Sugar: Adds sweetness, tenderness and provides food for yeast.
Water : The main hydrating factor in dough.
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