Monday, September 22, 2014

Whole wheat bread with semolina

When we were in Spain for a few months, my husband and I used to get freshly baked bread from the bakery downstairs and eat it with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sometimes, we used to eat it with dal and other times with bulls eye.
It was romantic, the eating of bread fresh out of the oven. After a while, we bought "levadura" from the supermarket and started making pizza. After we got back, I started looking up recipes over the internet for wholewheat bread and following them to the T. The thing about making your own bread is that, it is not just the eating bread later but the whole process of making it. Watching the yeast activate, watching the dough rise and double, the feel of the soft dough in your hands with you knead it and finally, the fragrance while it comes out of your oven, in my case, the convection microwave oven.

It is funny how I came up with this recipe. My son goes to playgroup and last week, his teacher sent a note that it was red day the next day and he should wear a red shirt and get two slices of bread in his tiffin box. Earlier, I had made whole wheat pizza, whole wheat bread using recipes by various bloggers and then finally the Sour Dough Bread by Shepard, Mark. I made it four times after that and my son and I loved it. I might have made the same thing except I didn't have the time. So, I made sourdough bread with yeast, honey and vinegar. So, it is sourdough but not so sour, and now, the husband is happy too ;-)

Here goes the ingredients (all level measures, 1 cup is 240ml)

¼ of a tablespoon active dry yeast (it comes to approximately ¾ of a teaspoon)

2½ cups whole-wheat flour

½ a cup semolina (suji)

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Warm water

Making the dough

In a big enough glass/china bowl, take ½ cup wheat flour and add the active dry yeast. Take enough warm water to make pancake batter and add the honey and vinegar. Now, mix the flour, yeast, water and leave it covered for about an hour. If you live in a warm climatic region, half an hour should suffice. When a few bubbles appear on the surface and the batter smells slightly sour, your starter/sponge is ready.

Out of the 2 cups of flour, add 1½ cups of the flour, olive oil, salt and semolina and mix uniformly. At this stage, it is okay to mix with a fork or spoon or even a whisk. If the batter is already looking like dough, add a little more water. Let it sit and soak for about 20 minutes.

You are now left with ½ a cup of wheat flour. Use it to dust the surface and your hands and knead. My son came up with the mantra for kneading :-) It is "push-pull-fold". After a minimum of 10 minutes of kneading, let it rise for a couple of hours, punch it down, and put it in the fridge with the lid on. Best thing would be to wrap a cling film over the bowl.

When the dough rises, it may or may not double. You could wait for it to double in volume and then punch it down or just punch it down after a couple of hours. The final result will be the same.

After about 14 hours in the fridge, oil your hands and knead one more time.

Shape the dough and tip it into a greased loaf tin or on to a greased baking tray.

Now, for the most important part, the actual baking.

Start with a cold oven. Not a preheated one.
A cold oven allows that final spurt of rise and viola! 

I baked at 170°c for full 60 minutes. 

About the oven
Mine is panasonic inverter microwave convection oven. You have to test your oven whether 170 works or 180. In inverter, the oven heats up faster and maintains temperature through out. Other ovens are said to have fluctuating temperature with accurate final temperature only. Meaning, the temperature falls and rises during the process of cooking. An electric OTG requires higher temperature. As per the sourdough bread recipe by Mark Shepherd,  it takes 1 hour in a 350f or 190c oven.

About honey
Honey is essential but not not necessarily 2 tablespoons. Use 1 tablespoon if you so wish. In fact,  I am going to do that next time.

Quantity of flour
As you increase the quantity, baking time increases. Quantity of yeast need not be proportionally increased. Remember, the sourdough principle holds since we are making a sponge. Yeast is just a cheat.

Colour of the base
For this recipe and that of the sourdough recipe by Mark Shepherd,  the base, top and sides of the bread brown uniformly. 

Loaf tin or baking tray

I can't say why but baking in a loaf tin takes longer than in a tray. For a 2 cups(flour + semolina) loaf, it took me 55 minutes in a loaf tin and 45 minutes in a baking try.

Suggested accompaniments
1. Omlette with plenty of corriander and green chilly
2. A nice little potato masala (like for dosa) with ginger and green chilly. 

Happy baking!