Milk Bread for the Home Baker

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Home made bread has to be one of the most satisfying foods. We eat bread morning noon and night as a snack or accompanying an elaborate dinner party or a simple Barbecue. Bread has always been the corner stone of a light or main meal. A staple that even when the pantry is bare bread was enough to sustain the hunger.

Some countries are ferociously possessive of the flour and the techniques they use to produce the perfect loaf. That distinctive aroma of a freshly baked Vienna or the sour rustic notes of a crusty heavy sour dough where the smell lingers long after the bread has been devoured by hungry workers or a famished family.

Bread is one thing everyone remembers from their childhood day. Growing up and purchasing a fresh bake from the local  bakery where the dough has been lovingly shaped and proved then baked to crispy perfection. As the baker hands you one of his prized possessions he instinctively taps the bottom of the loaf ensuring the distinctive hollow sound is heard, a mark that all is well or rather baked well just before the hand over is complete.

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Although my recipe has been adapted for the domestic oven, never the less does the technique of making bread change.

Bread Dough

Makes 1 large Vienna or 2 Cobs or 12 dinner rolls

500g Bakers Flour

2 tsp Dry Instant yeast

1 tsp Caster Sugar

1 tsp Bread improver

1 Tbs Milk Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 Tbs Unsalted Butter (room temperature)

1 Tbs Rice Bran Oil

335ml Water (approximately)

METHOD 

  1. Add all the dry ingredients and using a standard mixer with the paddle attachment on slow speed mix all.
  2. Remove the paddle and now attach a dough hook. On low – medium speed add the butter and begin pouring the water into the flour mix. Add the first 300ml then if required add the rest you really need to feel the dough if its too sticky then naturally do not add any more water or if the dough feels and looks dry then add a few extra tablespoons of water at a time to get the wright consistency.
  3. Once the dough has come together, looks smooth in appearance and you are able to do the “Window test” with a small piece of dough, then we are ready for the next stage.
  4. Stop the mixer, remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with some plastic, and leave it to rest for 15 – 30 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface and a little oil on your hands remove the dough from the bowl shape into the desired shapes making sure you flatten out any large air bubbles that may have formed, place the dough onto prepared pans or trays. If you are using loaf pans then fill the with dough to just over half full with dough.
  6. Allow the dough to rest for approximately  30 – 40 minutes in the baking trays or tins. I like to put them in the oven with a cup of boiling hot water in the oven just to create a little moisture in the air as it rests. Then when ready take the dough out put it aside while the oven is heating up.
  7. 15 – 20 minutes Before baking Pre- heat the oven up-to 230 Degrees Celsius if your oven permits.
  8. Place a deep dish grill tray on any other shelf where it will not interfere with the rising dough. Place the dough on a rack in the centre of the oven and add one cup of hot water from the tap to the grill tray then quickly close the oven door to trap in the steam.
  9. Bake the dough for approximately 30 – 35 minute to a dark golden brown colour.
  10. Remove the bread loaf from the pan and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.

Fougasse…..Yes my guilty pleasure.

I have a confession to make, and if you haven’t guessed all ready “I love bread”.

Fougasse is one of those yeasted doughs Ive seen in books and watched bakers on food networks prepare and serve, Its always intrigued me. I have had it on my to-do list for a while now, I couldn’t think of anything better to make on a grey wet day like today.

Now I know Dan Lepard will not mind me putting one of his recipes to the “Recipe Review Test” so I have a copy of his book “Exceptional Breads” and on page 124 Roquefort and walnut fougasse. Just a little oversite on my part NO Roquefort and NO walnuts ……plain Fougasse with sesame seeds it is.

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The dough is a little softer and stickier but don’t be tempted to add more flour than required. Before flipping it onto the sesame seeds brush with a little water……thats all just a little water and rest the wet side onto the sesame seeds. Lift and flip again place on a baking tray.

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Be a little gentle with this dough it has a lovely tender texture, I have used my kitchen scissors to cut 7 to 8 slashes to create the design just putting the tip into the dough to make the hole then just pulling it into the required shape.

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Put them on the baking tray and let them rest for about 20 minutes or till they have risen again about half their size again.  Into a preheated oven at a lovely hot 220 degrees they go to bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes and the result is an amazing golden almost soft pretzel like delight. If you can let them rest on a cooling rack after they come out of the oven you are a more restrained baker than I am.

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Happy baking, and thanks for the inspiration Dan Leopard.

Episode 5: The great Australian Bake Off – Bread

 Its all about BREAD!

I cant help but love this episode, bread is such a staple in our home. My signature bake is a bread that I bake often and it always takes pride of place on the dinner table and equally for a picnic served hot or cold. Although I have always enjoyed the traditional flavours of the Spanakopita filling I don’t feel restricted. I have added roasted pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes and chorizo to this mix and the result has always been delicious.

This morning I baked on the Channel 9 Mornings program, with a backdrop of Greek flags and Ben and Sarah having lots of fun smashing plates and the Zorba music playing in the background I felt a real sense of pride for my Greek heritage.  A proud overwhelming feeling of joy that I am able to share this recipe with you all!

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Watch a very quick step by step taping on how to make the Platted Spanakopita Bread

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http://channelnine.ninemsn.com.au/blog.aspx?blogentryid=1134330&showcomments=true

Platted Spanakopita Bread – Free Form Yeast Loaf

Ingredients List:
2 t Dry yeast
1 t Caster Sugar
2 1/2 c Bakers Flour
1 teaspoon Bread improver
1 t salt
1 c Water
1 T olive oil
Egg-wash:
1 egg yolk
1 T Milk
2 T Sesame seeds
Filling
1 Bunch Fresh Spinach
300g Danish Feta
3/4 cup Grated Mozzarella, Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese
2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill (Chopped)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint (Chopped)
1 Spring Onion (thinly sliced)
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts
Freshly ground Black Pepper
 
Method:
1: To make the dough. Attach the dough hook on your standard electric mixer. In the mixing blow add the dry ingredients, yeast, sugar, flour, bread improver and salt in a bowl. Mix all ingredients very well then add the water and oil.  Should take about 5 minutes.
2: Mix all the dough ingredients together till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl this should take about 5 minutes.
3: Once the dough looks elastic, place it into an oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying and set aside in a warm place draft and light free till doubled in size.
4: Meanwhile to make the filling. Wash the spinach leaves and remove all of the stalk. Slice the spinach taking care to remove excess moisture from the leaves place in a large bowl. Add to this the crumble the feta the pine nuts,  grated cheeses chopped fresh mint and dill and thinly sliced spring onion. Mix all well.
5: Preheat the oven to 200C (please note that most ovens need about 15 – 20 minutes to reach maximum temperature)
6: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or onto a piece of baking paper (the same size as the baking tray you are going to use) and flatten out the dough with the palms of your hands to form a rectangle shape approximately 40cm x 30cm allow the dough to rest for a minute before adding the filling.
7: To cut the dough ready for the braid first remember to leave a 10cm width of dough uncut down the middle of the dough as this is where the filling will sit. Cut with a knife 8 by 8 cm lines on the left and right side of the dough creating eight fingers on either side these will be used to wrap over the filling creating the braid.
8: Add the filling straight down the centre of the dough. Then pick up one strand at a time alternating as you go and criss cross pushing each braid finger into the inner edge to anchor down.
9: Line a flat baking tray with baking paper place the braided bread onto the tray and allow it to rest for a further 15 minutes (this is the proving time) lightly cover the braided bread with some plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area that has little draft or light.

 

10: Once the dough has rested and almost doubled in size again brush on the egg wash sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden.
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Orange and Walnut Rosettes makes 12 (large muffing size)
Ingredients:
For the dough
  • 3 x 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 5 cups plain flour, sifted, plus extra for kneading
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2½ tablespoons caster sugar
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the topping
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for the egg wash
Utensils
  • 1 x 12-hole large muffin tray, lined with paper muffin cases

Method

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, beat in the eggs, and then mix in the flour, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla and mix until evenly combined (it is easiest to use your hands). Cover and leave in a warm place until risen by half (about 30 minutes).

Combine the orange filling ingredients and chill to keep firm but still spreadable.

Gently flatten the dough and cut it into 12 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a rectangle about 8 x 24cm. Spread the orange filling ingredients along the centre of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling to encase it.

To make the rosette, tie the dough into a knot, wrapping the top loose end of the knot under the roll and pushing the bottom loose end firmly into the centre of the roll. Place each rosette on the baking tray. Cover and leave somewhere warm until almost doubled (approximately 30 minutes).

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts (if using). Bake for 25 minutes or until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.