Monday, October 25, 2010
Well, yes, you could say I am on a 'caking' break. Cakes and More hasn't seen a cake this month, the 'More' taking up the space happily. I have baked a couple of cakes, but nothing new, so nothing to blog about.
With the son becoming more chubby, me on a diet, the hubby on an enforced diet (enforced by yours truly, without any doubt) whatever cakes I bake, is restricted to a slice or two for the kids and the rest shared with neighbors, and friends. Well, the itch to bake a new cake will soon resurface and I promise a shining new cake here soon...
I have been trying out breads, the healthier way to scratch the baking itch. Baking breads, I must tell you, has been like an edge-of-the-seat thriller in a way. You guessed it -Yeast features in this one. If you live in India, trying to learn baking bread with our locally available dried-active yeast, you can relate to my banter here. My inexperience apart, poor quality of yeast has been a contributing factor to the 'Ooops' factor in my breads. I have had to discard the yeast mixture 4 times on one occasion as the yeast did not quite proof..oops, rise to the occasion. So while my yeast is proofing, I pace back and forth, will it froth well within the critical 10 minutes, or will I have to start all over again..?? The 'phoren' yeast is supposed to be much more potent, it WILL froth for sure in 10 minutes and froth even when close to the expiry date. Guys in the US and elsewhere - how I envy you!!
I will be getting my bag of goodies from the US shortly and you bet yeast is going to be one of them. My sister got me a packet of instant yeast called Gloripan from General Food Additives, Seshadripuram. I was so excited, I just had to fit in baking a bread on the same day as I had to bake 3 cakes in my 14 liter OTG for a celebration in our office. And am I over the moon the yeast proofed its worth:-)
I tried Orange Bread from Champa's blog, with a few modifications made as I baked with APF instead of whole wheat. I would have loved to bake with whole wheat as in the original recipe here , but was too chicken to add another element of uncertainty by adding the vital wheat gluten, not to disregard the kneading factor. So after some, alright, quite some mails to Champa, I decided to bake it with APF.
As I learn, the ratio of the liquid to the flour is imperative to good texture of the bread. So if you are learning baking bread like me, make sure any bread recipe you attempt is very specific in these terms. A skewed ratio may result in a dense bread.
Here is what I did.
All Purpose Flour(Maida) - 3 Cups( I added about 1.5 tablespoons more while kneading)
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Orange Juice 3/4 Cup (I used Tropicana)
Water - 1/4 cup(divided use)
Honey - 3 tablespoons(Add a tablespoon more if you want the bread sweet)
Oil- 2 tablespoons
Dry Yeast - 2 teaspoons ( I used instant yeast, same quantity)
Orange Zest, grated - 1/2 teaspoon
Milk for brushing the loaf before baking (optional)
Oil or butter for brushing after baking(optional)
Procedure: In a large bowl, combine the honey and 2 tablespoons of warm water (out of the 1/4 cup). Sprinkle the yeast on top, allow to froth for 10 minutes. If it does not froth in 10 minutes, the yeast is no good and you will have to start the process all over again:-(. Note: Instant yeast does not need to be proofed, but I proofed just to see if it would froth well. And it did!
Mix the flour and salt well in another bowl. Keep aside. Add the oil, grated zest, the orange juice and the remaining water to the yeast mixture. Slowly add in the flour and mix into a dough. Dust your working area with very little flour. Knead well for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. If you find the dough sticky, oil your hands and continue with the kneading. I have added 1.5 tablespoons more flour as the dough was extremely sticky and difficult to knead in spite of oiling my hands repeatedly. I used my dough scraper for the first time. Note: Adding more than a couple of tablespoons of flour in addition to what the recipe specifies is not a good idea for a beginner. Form the dough into a ball, coat with oil. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and rest it in a warm place for an hour or till it doubles in volume.
Once the dough doubles, gently deflate it and shape into a dough. This part is scary as I am not sure how much of handling the dough is OK at this stage. Now you know why my loaves don't look pretty most of the times:-). You are supposed to be using a 9*5 loaf pan here. My tins are smaller, so I have made one big loaf and another mini braided loaf. Cover the loaf with a greased aluminum foil and let it rise again for about 45 minutes or till the dough doubles in volume.
Towards the end of the final rise, pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F). Just before placing the loaf in the oven, brush with some room temperature milk. Bake for 20 minutes. The loaf turning golden brown around 20 minutes is a good sign, I have realized. I have baked for 25 minutes at this stage. Slide an aluminum foil over the loaf if you find it browning too much. Lower the temperature to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F) and bake for 10-15 minutes more or till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. I have again baked for more than 5 extra minutes as I was not sure if the bottom sounded hollow. I have over baked the bread as is obvious from the thick-ish crust. I now need to add an Instant-read thermometer to my wish-list. This helps check the done-ness of bread. Cool gadget, eh?:-))
The bread had a good texture, slightly tangy, slightly sweet, soft and flavorful with the hint of orange coming through...The crunch of the flaked almonds on top contrasted well with the softness of the bread.
If you do not want the bread to taste tangy, add more honey. If you prefer the bread sweetish, try adding just the 3 tablespoons honey, use 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup water, step up on the zest.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful keeper of a recipe Champa! The bread goes your Bake-Off.
Am so very happy to also be sending my humble bread to Meeta's Monthly Mingle hosted by my favorite, favorite, favorite-est blogger Deeba this month. Being a huge PAB fan, I just wouldn't miss up on this, not for the world!!
Also to Susan's Yeast Spotting