"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." - Robert Brault
Small things which make us feel so happy! In our fast paced lives filled with bigger priorities, so many necessary but mundane things, these small pleasures are such saviors! Things that make you look forward to that time of the day when you can do what really excites you. That 'me' time doing what you really, really enjoy - not doing something which you ought to do. Reading my recently acquired King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book for instance - I never thought I will get so hooked to it! Interesting recipes, tips and information, am so glad kid brother gifted it to me! Well, he wanted to gift me something, I chose this book. He rolled his eyes...but no better gift which I will treasure..
Another confession here - come to think of it, with so many confessions here, should I rename my blog as 'The Confessions Of A Wannabe Baker?' Tell me!! For all my interest in baking, am not much of a knowledge-seeking, learn- the-science-behind-baking kind of person. I enjoy baking tremendously, to the extent of being obsessed with it and I do manage to read up a wee bit (just a wee bit) when I have to. Given the kind of person I am, I am surprisingly enjoying reading up even these bits in the book. I have tried out a couple of recipes, Graham Crackers, No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread and there are many many more I just can't wait to try! Honestly, when I ordered it, the book did not sound all that interesting to me, whole grains and all, but I went ahead as I wanted to bake healthier too. But again, surprise, I really like this book, its a winner!!
I recently baked these bread-sticks which go by the name Golden Sesame Breadsticks from the same book and loved them! Made with more of whole wheat and some APF, they turned out crunchy and tasty. I have been meaning to bake with pre-ferment since quite some time this seemed to be an easy one. I am so excited and must tell you about this way of baking with yeast which is new to me. Pre-ferment refers to part of the liquid, flour, cool water and a pinch of instant yeast mixed together and allowed to ferment for 12-14 hours. The pre-ferment is then mixed with the rest of the ingredients and you carry on with the recipe. Well, I had earlier thought, warm water and sugar are absolutely essential to bake with yeast, but no, not in the case of instant yeast. The sugar in the flour is enough for the yeast (in instant yeast) to grow. Using cool water, allowing slow fermentation, helps get better flavor in your bread. That's an added advantage of using instant yeast.
On to the bread sticks, here is what I did. The book suggests sesame seeds for the topping, I have used garlic powder and mixed Italian herbs. You could use any spices of your choice, and I would suggest a liberal use EXCEPT if you would be using garlic in the dough as too much garlic or cinnamon in the dough is not recommended in a bread dough as it will hamper the rise. Some ideas would be cumin and mint, coriander and garlic, thyme and chopped green chilli , cumin and pepper, dried fenugreek...
Patience not being one of my virtues, I have halved the below recipe and weighed the ingredients as it would otherwise take a lot of batches to bake the entire quantity in my small oven. If you have a big oven, please do bake the entire quantity. I have described the procedure to my understanding from the book.
For the pre- ferment
Whole Wheat Flour - 1 Cup / 4 oz / 113 grams approximately
Cool water - 1/2 cup / 4 oz
Scant pinch of instant yeast (please refer note)
All of the pre-ferment
Whole wheat flour -1/2 cup / 2 oz/ 56 grams approximately
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup / 4.25 oz / 120 grams approximately
Instant yeast - 1 1/2 teaspoon
Salt -1 1/4 teaspoons (recipe uses 1 teaspoon, I like my bread-sticks a little salty)
Water - 1/2 cup / 4 oz
Olive oil - 3 tablespoons
Topping of your choice - herbs, toasted sesame seeds or any of the above
To make the pre-ferment
Take a bowl which will be large enough to mix the entire dough in. In this bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, water and a pinch of yeast. Stir to blend and cover with a plastic wrap. I have used a tablespoon of water more as the dough was too stiff (for half the quantity above). This will be a bit sticky, not watery though. This dough needs to be set aside at cool room temperature (that is, not in a warm place) for 12-14 hours. So you could ideally mix the previous day evening say around 6 p m. Rest it till 8 a m next day. This is so that you can finish the entire process, take pictures in daylight before your kids come back from school and descend on them ;-) The dough will be puffy but not be as bubbly as a white flour poolish, says the recipe.
To make the dough: Add the flours, yeast, salt, water, olive oil and any seasoning you may want to the pre-ferment in the bowl. Here I have added the water gradually and used 1 tablespoon less. I did not want the dough sticky as the recipe does not specify this as a requirement. Knead the dough till it is smooth and very soft. I have kneaded for about 14 minutes, my dough was soft but not very much so. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise till it becomes puffy. Mine took about 40 minutes and was almost double. Remember, it may take about 1 - 1 1/2 hours to become puffy, but not necessarily double.
Shaping the bread sticks : Line your baking tray with parchment, grease lightly. Lightly grease your counter top with oil, place the dough on it. I have divided the dough into half and refrigerated the other half. I have made very small balls out of the dough and rolled them into 'snakes'. Verbatim from the book -You could also roll the dough into a rectangle 10 x 20 (if using the large baking sheets). Cut the rectangle lengthwise into two 5 x 20 inch strips. Sprinkle the seasoning on the dough, roll lightly to press in the seeds. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough(the short way) into 1/2 inch x 5 inch strips. Twist the ends of strips in opposite directions (as you may wring a towel) to make a spiral, and place them on the baking sheets. The soft dough will stretch as you work with them, hence you are to begin with 5'' wide strip of dough. You would have to do the above mentioned procedure for even shaped, pretty bread sticks. If you are OK with less pretty, uneven ones like me, just divide the dough into balls and roll them. Cover the bread sticks and let them rest for an hour. They will not rise much, but this rest makes them much lighter.
Towards the end of the rise period, pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degree F. Bake them for about 25 minutes or till light golden. The baking time depends on how thin or thick your bread sticks are. So watch out. I baked for about 35 minutes. They will brown quickly towards the end, so if you decide that they need to color a little bit more, hang around the kitchen and clean up the place, but don't go away, your bread sticks may brown a bit too much and taste...uhhh.. a little too much baked...I did that for one batch!!
Remove from the oven, cool on rack. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Half a scant pinch of yeast? A pinch of yeast is what comes between you thumb and forefinger, I have used half of this for the pre-ferment as I have halved the recipe.
I have taken out the refrigerated dough once my first half batch just went into the oven and then rolled them. Rest for an hour and bake. If you have added enough seasoning and spice, you could eat them as is. If not, eat them with dipping oil or any other dip.
These bread sticks are being YeastSpotted.