Nov 23, 2014

Venturing into baking bread

2014 - An important year as I knocked off one of the items in my bucket list !! To experience the joy of baking, to smell the aroma of butter wafting from my new convection oven and spreading warmth and comfort all around. I have been trying out different variations of cakes, muffins and cookies. Some experiments turned out really awesome while some were average. Fortunately, there hasn't been any disaster so far (Love you all, food bloggers for your perfect recipes and drool-worthy clicks).

Baking bread was the ultimate pinnacle I had set for myself. For some silly reason, I was very scared to plunge into baking bread. Maybe, it's because of reading so many recipes that I feared my pav bun would turn into a rock or my bread loaf would turn into a brick. Every time, I passed the aisle that had yeast in the supermarket, I would look at it in anticipation, only to walk away after a few minutes. Early Aug, I took the "bold" step of purchasing a small pack of "Active dry yeast". It sat in my kitchen pantry for another 2 months before I decided "Enough is enough, lady! Give it a shot". I added a goal in my Weekly to-do list - "Bake bread"

One afternoon, I pulled out a pav bun recipe from my bookmarks list and followed the recipe exactly. It came out so good to my surprise. I was elated and thrilled. Soft, light and spongy. I made a small batch and we ate the buns with jam.

Now the initial success gave me confidence to try out a basic sandwich bread recipe. Bookmarks to the rescue again, pulled out a bread recipe and baked this bread loaf a couple of days back.

Recipe adapted from: thekitchn

1.5 tsp active-dry yeast
1/2 cup (118 ml) warm water
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 cups of all purpose flour / maida

In a bowl, mix yeast, sugar and warm water, until the yeast is dissolved. Place this bowl in a warm place (I kept it inside my oven) for around 15 minutes. It should have frothed up by now. You will see some air bubbles. If you don't, then do not proceed further. Buy a fresh pack of yeast and try later.

Melt the butter, add salt and milk. Mix well. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour and mix together. If you are not able to knead and it's too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour at a time and continue kneading for 10-15 minutes. The dough should come together nicely and form a soft ball.

Keep this dough in a covered bowl in a warm place for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough would have risen well. Punch the dough a little bit and knead for 5 minutes.

Grease a loaf pan with some butter/oil. Shape the dough into a rectangle, so it fits into the loaf pan. Press it lightly so it fits well into the corners. Cover the loaf pan with a wet cloth and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour. It should have risen to the brim of the loaf pan.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Carefully, remove the wet cloth. Apply a layer of milk on top of the risen dough.

Bake for 25 - 30 min. The dough will start to rise in the first 5 minutes but will take another 20 minutes to get the brown crust. Take it out once you see a nice brown layer on top.

Immediately, apply a layer of butter using a silicone brush. Let it cool completely before you slice them. Enjoy with a dash of butter and a sliver of jam.

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