Friday, September 5, 2008

For some its inbred...for me its in-bread :)

Blessed are the folks who can conquer the idiosyncrasies of yeasts, the drudgeries of kneading, and make adjustments to their concoctions with great aplomb. Not only that, they can make statements like “Hey, if the dough is too sticky, add more flour.” Well, how much more? And how sticky is ‘sticky’? You see, that’s the problem being a scientist by trade. One tends to carry logic into a territory where ‘learning by experience’ seems to be the mantra. The way certain people are able to not only come up with their own recipes, but also improvise and not resort to rosary beads when something doesn’t go as planned is simply amazing to me!

I am also trying to become a more ‘seasoned’ baker. I love to follow recipes because not only it is a ‘safe call’, but it also allows me to delve deeper into the blogosphere, view a picture of the ultimate prize ;), and learn some really useful tricks of the trade. Because sometimes, it is good to know all the possible ways to screw up ;)

But as I am trying to grow into be a better baker, I guess one of the things I have to do is to be able to gain that ‘intuitive’ touch by trying to come up with something without having to follow a recipe. And to me, nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked bread! So I’d like to share with you my attempts to ‘make my own bread’.
Of course, the breads I’m mentioning are not ‘original’ in the sense that they have been made before. But to me, in a sense they are because I didn’t refer to anything while making these breads ☺ So here it goes….

A) Potato Bread

This is a minor modification to good old white bread. But I must confess that the added taste pf potato took it to a whole new level in terms of taste! The loaf was “Gone in 60 Seconds” ☺

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ cup water
1 packet active dry yeast

½ cup dried potato flakes
1 tbsp dried chives

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp sugar

Milk to adjust the consistency of the dough

Proofing the yeast:

1. Warm ¾ cup water in a microwavable bowl to make it lukewarm.

2. Dissolve the sugar and then add the yeast. Mix and leave it for 15 minutes or until its frothy.


In the meantime, we prepared the potatoes like this:

1. Bring some water (1 cup) to a boil.

2. Add some salt and then the dried potato flakes. Turn off the heat and mix until you get a consistency that resembles mashed-potatoes. You can also mix in some red-chilli powder or cayenne pepper powder to tickle your spice-buds ☺

3. Mix the flour, salt and chives.

4. Add the mashed potatoes, butter (melted in a microwave and brought to room temperature) and mix well.

5. Finally, add the yeast and mix/knead well to form somewhat sticky dough. You can add some milk if the dough is too solid. By this I mean there are lumps of dry flour remaining in the dough after the addition of all the yeast-water mixture. But do not add not too much milk, otherwise the dough may become too runny.

6. Form a ball and cover the surface with olive oil. Let it rest in a covered bowl until it doubles in volume. This should take around 2-3 hours. For an easier solution, preheat your oven at 300F for a minute and switch it off. Keep the dish with the dough inside and watch it rise :)

7. Punch the dough back. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10 more minutes. This is the time to vent all your anger out if you’ve had a rough day at work or something! The kneading step is not a bad option either ;)

8. Grease a loaf pan with olive oil. Transfer the dough and spread it evenly. Let it rest for 15 more minutes.

9. Bake it at 350 F (Please make sure to preheat the oven at 350F after taking out the risen dough) for 20-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the bread.

The bread came out nice and moist. The taste of potatoes was unmistakable and not yet overpowering. It was hard to take pictures and once that was done, N and I devoured the loaf. The entire loaf vanished in no time!

B) Spinach and sun dried tomato bread

Well, this is a bit more complex. The inspiration for this recipe was Sunita’s cheesy dal bread. A very unique creation because I have never heard of adding cooked lentils to a bread-dough. Pure genius ☺ I was a bit apprehensive to use whole wheat flour because the one we had was simple “Atta”. Its texture is rather coarse and is not particularly meant for baking. So I made several changes to the recipe. Well, enough to call it my own: P


1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta)
1 ¼ cup water
3 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tbsp salt
100 g spinach (fresh/frozen/whatever!)
½ cup sun dried tomato paste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes

1. Proof the yeast in 1 ¼ cups water as described above.

2. Cook the spinach in boiling water (with some salt) for 15 mins. Drain as much water as you can and let the spinach cool down.

3. Mix the flours, salt, oregano and parsley.

4. Add the yeast and knead to mix all the ingredients. Add the sun dried tomato paste and knead again. Form a ball, glaze it with some olive oil and let it rest in a covered bowl until double in volume.

5. My dough didn’t rise much even after an hour. So I decided to put the covered bowl in the oven, crank up the heat to 250F for about 2 minutes and turn it off. I waited for another hour and found out that the dough had risen well. I also noticed a somewhat dry ‘crust’ had developed. But that didn’t cause any problems. I guess Atta could be a pain to work with!

6. Punch the dough back and let it rest for 15 mins.

7. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball and flatten with your hands into thick discs. Add the cheddar cheese in the middle of each disc and then fold the disc over to cover the cheese. Essentially, I made giant balls that engulfed cheddar cheese in the middle.

8. Let the balls rest for 15 mins on a greased pizza tray.

9. Bake them at 350 F for 25-30 mins. Or until a knife comes out clean. Do not insert the knife too deep otherwise it might come back with molten cheddar on it ☺

The bread came out well. The cheddar made it taste really well ☺ It was fun to see the molten cheddar ooze out when we cut the bread open. Well, I didn’t bake this on the same day as potato bread (I mean I love baking but I am not a maniac!) but this was also devoured almost immediately :D

So yes, for some folks, it is inbred. But for me, it is in-bread :D


Usha said...

Wow you have been really busy with all this bread baking..both the breads look awesome..I am especially interested in the potato bread..will give it a try:)

Maria said...

Looks like your bread skills are coming right along! Both breads look amazing!

Cham said...

Sun dried tomato bread looks awesome :)

Adam said...

Oh wow that last pic pretty much says it all. Are you sure it last 60 seconds?

From the looks of it, it appears your baking skills are coming along nicely. Bread making is a trade all itself... keep it up, I guess you're a natural.

Hope you enjoyed the game last night... it was a good one :)

Passionate About Baking said...

Hat's off to you, you great bread-baker! You're doing it in yeasts & bounds...well done. Yummy breads, both of them!

Sireesha said...

Sun dries tomato bread looks amazing.

Jayashree said...

Both the breads look good....I really like the sun dried tomato version.

PG said...

Both the breads look amazing. I know what you mean with the problems with baking when new to it. But, hey, as a scientist you also know how to go ahead and experiment! So, now you have enough empirical data too! :)
I am now so tempted to try out your dried tomato bread. Let's see when.

Valarmathi said...

Both the breads looks good and delicious


lovely bread .. the one with sun dried tomatoes, awesome ..

Dee said...

Wow, that's a lot of bread! And you certainly did an excellent job. In fact, I'm bookmarking your sundried tomato and spinach bread :)

Laavanya said...

Both breads looks great and I love the idea of having spinach & sundried tomatoes in bread - how flavorful.

Vaishali said...

Both those breads look absolutely delicious. I'm in love with the idea of baking spinach and sun-dried tomatoes into bread. What stage do you add the spinach, though?

Natashya said...

Way to go! Baking your own bread is very spiritual and relaxing.
The loaves sound great.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Your house must smell lovely lately! You're doing so great with that bread making! Keep them coming!

meeso said...

Very nice breads!!! It reminded me of my mom and how she use to bake all the time :)

Pearlsofeast said...

Thanks for stopping by and that led me to discover such a nice space. U write so well and I really enjoyed reading ur posts.Potato flakes is a great idea,I have bookmarked it.

Rachel said...

I am not surprised about the "gone in 60 secs".

Not just one.but two lovely breads....great job...

Cynthia said...

I bow to you with lots of respect. You are going to make a really fine baker because you already have what is takes to bake - intuition and guts and oh yeah, it helps very much that you are a scientist :)

Uma said...

beautiful bread.

The Caked Crusader said...

I'm scared of making bread - it's the smell of the yeast that turns me off!
Your bread looks wonderful

Prema Sundar said...

Wow!! both the breads look very nice.spinach and sundried tomatoes ...that sounds nice.

Suma Rajesh said...

sundried tomato bread looks interesting..

raaji said...

I always wanted to bake a bread..but it needs a lot of patience and strengtgh....just have to watch

A_and_N said...

@ Usha: Thanks! Sure, potato bread is worth a try. Let me know how it turned out :)

@ Maria: Thanks a ton :)

@ Cham: Thanks Cham :) It was slightly more painful though.

@ Adam: I am no way natural....but thanks :) I am looking forward to the Jets-Pats showdown :)

@ Deeba: Thank you ma'am! nice to hear from the 'Ustaad' :)

@ Sireesha: Thanks :)

@ Jayashree: Me too because I took more pains to make it :D

@ PG: I wish I succeeded like this during my PhD. I could have finished it sooner :)

@ Valarmathi: Thanks :)

@ Dee: Thanks! And the spinach sundried tomato bread is certainly worth a try :)

@ Laavanya: Thanks! And yes, the bread was quite flavorful. But you can change things for sure. This recipe has a lot of room to play around :)

@ Vaishali: Thanks! You can add the cooked and cooled spinach during the step when you mix all the dry ingredients (before adding the yeast water).

@ Natashya: You summed it up perfectly :)

@ Clumbsy Cookie: Thanks. You are always encouraging :)

@ Meeso: I am glad the post took you down the memory lane :)

@ Pearlsofeast: Thanks a ton :) I hope you visit in future :)

@ Rachel: Thanks a lot Rachel :)

@ Cynthia: Thank you so much Cynthia. Coming from you, thats lofty praise. Thanks again :)

@ Uma: Thanks!

@ The Caked Crusader: I was scared too. Two magicians taught me some tricks and I have been happily baking ever since then :)

@ Prema Sundar: Thank you so much!

@ Suma: Yes it is certainly worth a try :)

@ Raaji: I am sure you have both. Give it a shot!

Nidhi said...

Yummy looking breads! Now that I have finally started really looking forward to the baking recipes. Your potato bread has got me really excited. Will try it real soon.

Madhavi said...

Yummmmmm delicious, divine, and awesome entry. Keep rocking gal!!!

Cakelaw said...

Yum! Both of these breads look sooooo good. I think you are pretty seasoned baker to accomplish this.

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

I am astonised at the variety of bread.....good show

LG said...

Potato bread brought back those potato buns of our bakery in Mysore. Both breads look delectable :)