Monday, January 29, 2007

More Bread

On Friday I baked some bread, and think I've finally recreated the flavour of my coriander and rosemary bread from on-or-about my 29th birthday. Unfortunately it didn't rise very much. I intend to experiment to try to determine what the limiting factor vis-a-vis rising is - currently I'm looking at proving time, kneading time, amount of yeast, and proportion of sugar to yeast as my variables.

A side effect of this will be baking a tremendous amount of bread. This post will now take the place of the previous one in being the centre for bread recipes on this blog.

Here's my original recipe for the bread from October 2004:

Warning! Bread should only be used for good, not evil. If a stranger offers you bread, JUST SAY NO! Bread should only be used under controlled conditions. Always ask your parents before making bread.

Two loaves (or one really big one!) of rosemary and coriander not-really-foccacia-style bread

1 kilo strong white bread flour
1 pint tepid water
3 x 7g packets of yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
quite a bit (5 sticks/maybe tablespoon and half) rosemary
some (a dessert spoon or so) coriander seeds
some more salt
a tablespoon and a half or possibly two of olive oil
(no, I wasn't paying attention when I put the flavouring together. It was intuitive)

Sieve the flour. No really, it helps get air in it. Make a well in the middle, put in the salt, sugar and yeast. Pour in half the water. Mix up the middle until it's kind of porridgey. Try not to let any water out of the well. Add some more water. Mix it again until it's porridgey. Keep doing this until all the water is in. If you do this on a board or work surface, you have an exciting moment when all this porridgey gloop tries to escape from the flour on all sides at once. Try not to let this happen.

Eventually it will be thick enough to safely pile everything into the middle, and will become a sticky dough, and as you knead it, steadily less sticky. I went all out on kneading it (something loud and guitary was on the radio) for maybe 5 minutes. Stick the dough in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put it somewhere warm for an hour to "prove".

While the yeast does it's thing, make up the flavouring. Crush the rosemary, coriander seeds and a bit of salt together in a pestle and mortar, or maybe food process it, that would probably do too and get you a fine paste which would make it less bitty and rustic, although I was felling pretty bitty and rustic when I made mine, which is why it was pestle and mortar. Add in some olive oil and keep crushing it, and then let the whole mess sit there infusing flavours for a while. It's probably a good idea to prepare some baking trays by sprinkling flour on them at this point.

The dough should have expanded to be a huge... thing. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface, take it out the bowl and squeeze all the air out until it's a heavy dough again. I know this all seems to be a big waste of time, but it makes better bread. Now add the flavouring mixture; I flatten the dough and pour it on top, then fold it over and knead. Olive oil will get everywhere. Don't worry! Wipe it up wth the dough. Keep kneading for 5 minutes. You may need to sprinkle more flour on the surface, the dough, yourself, and maybe a friend as well; it can get pretty messy. Eventually it will become a bit more well behaved, and you can sculpt it into your favourite bread shape(s), put it on the baking tray(s) and put it back somewhere warm for another hour or so for a second proveing. Be warned that it will grow (again) to maybe twice it's size. You can leave it longer if you want, but anything less than 45 minutes will probably be disappointing.

At some point preheat your oven (only you know how long it takes to heat up) to maybe 190C or so. When the dough has proved for the second time, put it in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes; I check on it after about half an hour and decide from the colouring when to take it out.

Leave it alone for 10 minutes or so after it comes out the oven. You'll just burn yourself. THEN dig into nice hot slices of bread.

When you do this on a baking tray it spreads out and becomes a big flat loaf. If anyone experiments with a proper sandwich style loaf in a tin let me know; it would probably need a bit longer, and maybe a lower temperature.

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