Turning multigrain: Ragi bread loaf

I have been keen to make multi grain breads at home. So far its been a thought only. I havent had the courage to execute the idea  simpley because I’ve had many  trials where my 100% atta breads have flopped. If 100% attIa doesn’t work, how will multi grain ever work!

So some Sundays ago, I decided I wanted to try,even if it meant I’d fail. I decided its a good idea to go step by step- keep the base of the bread the same and gradually substitute the APF with other flours. I have had good success with 50% atta breads now it was time to experiment some more.

I am a fan of ragi, or naachni as its called in some part of the country.  At my parent’s place, we are big on ragi, at my in-laws, not so much. They’ve never eaten it and so don’t have a taste for it. Gradual introduction was my safest bet.  I took my tried and tested 50% atta recipe and increased the total volume by adding some ragi. Fermentation took approximately the same time as did the baking. The end result was a bread that had the distinct colour and flavour of ragi. After the initial bite, you begin the accept the change in taste. Its only the initial bite,where the difference is flavour strikes you after that it tastes quite like regular bread- the flavour isnt objectionable at all.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C atta
  • 1 C maida
  • 1/2 C ragi flour
  • 1 C water (you may been a little more)
  • 2 1/2 tsp fresh yeast
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  • Warm water and dissolve sugar. Add yeast and allow it to become frothy.
  • Knead the flour with this water.
  • Keep in a warm place and allow it to double.
  • Punch down the dough and knead some more.
  • Place in a grease tin to bake.
  • Bake at 200 deg C for 20-25 mins or till a toothpick comes out clean.

I had the bread for breakfast on two consecutive days with omelettes right off the stove!

Next on the multigrain agenda: a 50% multigrain bread!

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Laadi pav

I miss Mumbai for several things. The family..the monsoons…..the local trains.. the energy. I wouldn’t categorise myself as a foodie but there are some food items that the city offers that I do miss. There are  versions of the Bombay bhel puri and the pav bhaji that we get here in Delhi, but they are no where close to the original.

I absolutely love the regular laadi pav that we get in Bombay. Its ubiquitous- easily purchased from regular around the corner bakeries and lathered with butter and served with misal /usal/bhaaji. Made with maida, its soft and breaks easily so that you can treat it like chapati- tear away a piece with one hand and dip it in the gravy before popping it in your mouth.

I am yet to find laadi pav in Delhi. What we get here is actually bun. Each bun is thicker than the pav and the texture is denser too.

Each time we make pav bhaaji at home, my heart yearns for the original Bombay paav. I chanced upon the laadi pav recipe on vegrecipesofindia and said to myself”Enough of whining, Make your own pav!” You can refer to the recipe shared by Dassana- she’s got step by step pictures that are very helpful.

My recipe is a twist on the original pav. I cannot get myself to make pure maida breads nowadays. If I am taking to effort to making bread, I may as well eat at least half atta! Originally pav is made with maida and you can surely substitute the atta with maida keeping all other proportions the same in the recipe.

  Ingredients:

  • 1 C atta
  • 1 C maida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 to 1 C water
  • 2 tsp fresh yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Butter to brush
  • Paper to line baking tray

Method:

  • Heat water till warm enough to dip your fingers comfortably. Dissolve sugar. Add the yeast and allow it to stand for 5-7 mins till the yeast froths.
  • Mix the flours and salt in a bowl. Add the frothy yeast water to it and knead till the dough it soft and smooth. Cover and keep in a warm place till the dough doubles. Its winter in Delhi so it took 2 hours for me.
  • Line a baking tray with paper and grease the paper.
  • Punch down the down and divide it into equal sections. Roll the sections into even looking rounds and place them  on the tray. They shouldnt be place too far away because we want the pavs to fuse together. I got 15-16 pieces.
  • Allow the pavs to rise again.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins at 200 deg.C.
  • Remove from over and brush with butter.
  • When serving with bhaaji, split the pav into half and toast with a dollop of butter on the tawa.

  
 

 

Spanish flat bread turned vegetarian!

I have been in  the bread phase for a while now. Bathing is de-stressing for me and I am happy to bake just about anything. My choices of what I bake have chaqnged over time. When this blog began we made lot of cakes. With time  (and the piling weight) I’ve taken to baking a variety of bread instead. Lower calories and a ready to eat breakfast item that most family members like.

Myjhola’s Spanish flat bread with chorizo, tomatoes and oregano has been on my to-bake list for the longest time. Pre-baby days to be precise. The one thing motherhood has taught me (still learning) is patience- I have actually waited months to try out this recipe.

Last Sunday, the family took turns to baby sit and I got a golden opportunity to make some bread. I made Anita’s burger buns and Myjhola’s spanish flat bread.

The Spanish flat bread is topped with chorizo. I substituted that with olives since I had no takers for meats at home.  I made some other minor changes in the recipe. They  are marked in italics. I highly recommend you visit the original site for the recipe. You will drool over the pictures 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tbsp. fresh or instant yeast (I used fresh yeast)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2  tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt (for sprinkling on top)  ( I skipped this)
  • 3 tbsp.
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh oregano ( I used crushed dry oregano)
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced ( I used halved cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 chorizo sausages (pepperoni if you can’t find it), thinly sliced (I used sliced olives instead)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes( I skipped this)

Method:

    1. Mix the flour and salt. Keep aside.
    2. Heat water &dissolve the sugar. When the temperature is just right, add the yeast and set aside for 5-10 mins till it becomes frothy.
    3. Add the yeast water to the flour and knead into a soft dough. The original recipe says you can add more water if needed- I didnt find that necessary. the yeast mixture to the flour and knead to a soft dough, adding more water if required. Add the olive oil and bring it all together.
    4. Keep in a warm place and allow it to rise.
    5. Preheat the over.
    6. Line a baking sheet with greased  butterpaper/ aluminium foil.
    7. Flatten out the dough on the tray using your hands.
    8. Place the tomatoes and olives. Sprinkle salt. I missed this and regretted it. Drizzle some olive oil.
    9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

IMG_7738IMG_7736

 

Burger Bun

When living independently with the spouse, we’d often make aloo tikki at home, buy bread/ buns from the market and throw in some tomato, capsicum and onion rings and turn them sandwiches/ burgers. They made a great Sunday dinner, giving us a break from the standard dal-rot-sabzi routine. A perfect evening would be the burgers with a big bowl of  hot soup  eaten leisurely watching a movie on TV.  With a 5 month old baby, those days are long forgotten. 🙂

I have been keen on making buns at home. I  had Anita’s recipe earmarked for a long time.  But finding time with a six day working week and a baby is now truly a challenge! My Sundays are not more packed (as if that was possible!) than my weekdays. There is just so much to do around the baby and house.

I took the recipe from A Mad Tea Party.  I love Anita’s her blog and adore her photography- you should really check it out. I modified  the recipe to reduce quantity. I also used fresh yeast and skipped the gluten. Please refer to the original recipe. My version is mentioned below.

Burger Buns

Ingredients:

  • 1C atta
  • 1C maida
  • 1t salt
  • 3/4 C warm water
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 t sugar
  • 2 t fresh yeast
  • 2 t oil
  • sesame seeds
  • butter for brushing

 

Method:

  • Heat the water. When its warm dissolve the sugar and add the yeast. Let it stand for a few minutes till the yeast becomes frothy.
  • Sift the atta, maida and salt. Add the yeast-water mixture to this. Knead.
  • Add milk and continue kneading till the dough comes together. the dough will be sticky.
  • liberally dust your kitchen counter with atta/maida and knead the dough for a few more minutes till it turns into a soft , smooth log. by the time you are done- it wont be sticky either.
  • Cover and keep in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. Its winter in Delhi so I had to place it in my oven. It took 2 hours to get a good rise.
  • Knock  down the dough and shape the dough into rounds. On a well grease baking tray, place the dough rounds. Dont forget to keep adequate space in between- I have made that mistake more than one. It ruins the final outcome.  Allow them to rise again. It shouldnt take more than an hour- mine took longer due to the cold weather.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you like you can brush them with milk  or butter.
  • Bake at 200 deg C for 15  mins.
  • Take buns fresh out of the over and lather the tops with butter- entirely optional!

 

The buns were a hit at home. We didn’t bother turning them into burgers. They were eaten  accompanied with dollops of butter and tomato soup.
image

image

Excuse the bad photography. I can squeeze out time to bake, but time to take photos is still a far away dream.

 

Caterpillar Bread with fresh yeast for a fresh start!

Lakshmi and I began this blog  some seven years ago. We set out enthusiastically and baked like there was no tomorrow. It was truly an obsession.  Then life took over and we went on to do all or a combination of moving jobs, moving cities, marrying and starting a family. This meant responsibilities  took over and time was short. We also grew older and all the sugary sweet baking was no longer an acceptable dietary choice. So without us formally closing this blog, it gradually fell silent. There were some attempts to revive it, but they remained sporadic and inconsistent. And then one day Lakshmi and I connected again over the phone. It was a warm, free wheeling conversation between people who hadn’t met in over ten years yet had a connection.  It was natural that baking popped up. It was also natural that we both got excited about it.  Keen to restart we decided that the rules of the game had changed. We now needed to forage/ create recipes that were healthy, could be relished by the family and didnt require too much time. The frequency of baking also had to be realistic. Back with our baking resolve, we present to you the Caterpillar Bread. I found the Caterpillar Bread while hopping through food blogs on a slow afternoon at work. A quick share over whatsapp and  we were were both keen to try it out.  We used the same bread recipe as we did for the Basic French Bread Rolls many moons ago on this blog.  Its reproduced here for your convenience. The stuffing, of course, is your choice. Ingredients: For the bread: 

  • Maida – 2 cups
  • Milk/ Water – 3/4 cup
  • Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Honey/ Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Butter (optional) – to grease the top

For the stuffing:

  • 200 gms cottage cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 small onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 small capsicum (chopped finely)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
  • seasoning : salt, red chilli powder

Method:

  • Warm the Water/Milk. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Dissolve sugar. Add yeast and set aside for 10 minutes until yeast is activated.
  • Add 2 cups of flour and the salt to the yeast and incorporate. Gradually add the rest of the flour and incorporate into a dough. Add the oil.
  • Knead for 5 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Transfer to a kneading surface if needed. Cover and let the dough rise to about double its size – about 1-2 hours.
  • Prepare the stuffing.
  • Deflate the dough.Divide into two. Roll out each part evenly in an oval shape.
  • Divide the stuffing  into 2 parts. Place one part in the rolled out dough. Roll the dough 3/4th the way. In the last 1/4th part, cut inch long strips. Fold the inch long strips over the roll.  On one end place 2 pepper corns close by to represent eyes. For a picture by picture guide you could look at this blog post.
  • Allow a second rise ( takes 30 mins to an hour).
  • Bake at 200 deg C for about 20-25 mins.
  • Brush with butter and serve hot.

Mandira’s Notes: This cute looking bread is a breeze (as long as you have the basics of bread making in place).  Its easy to shape and looks great.  I stuffed mine with crumbled paneer (cottage cheese).  Since I ran out of cottage cheese, I made one caterpillar bread and with the remaining dough, I shaped it roughly  like a focaccia. I kneaded in some oregano and chilli flakes and topped it with olives and home made sun dried tomatoes. 20150329_201147 Caterpillar Bread

20150329_201225
Focaccia of sorts
20150329_201239
Focaccia from another angle

Lakshmi’s Notes: In many years that Mandira and I cooked our separate ways into life, my pot has remained boiling in the same spot, in the same job, in the same city, in such an epic state of sameness, that often people comment on how I look exactly the same as I did ten years back. Of course, they are being too nice, still I marvel at the sameness of my life. Mandira’s call a week earlier was like a much needed boost to reconnect and rekindle with all that used to once occupy personal meaning and joy. This is my tenth summer in Chennai, a city that earns complaining accolades for its heat even from those who live in deserts. Of course, this doesn’t mean the bread will bake itself, one still needs an oven. But liberties can be taken with the time for rise and second rise and so on. This is an especially forgiving recipe, the stuffing does most of the work, the dough need not be laboured over for hours on end in waiting and rising and sundry techniques of kneading. Caterpillar bread I stuffed it with panneer with some tomatoes, garlic and onions. A, the almost 6 year old, food critic at home, sealed it with her approval of ‘romba tasty’ – ‘romba’ is tamil for ‘very’. Caterpillar bread - Stuffing

Pull-apart rolls: chutney and cheese

The internet is a wonderful thing.

Just a few days back, I was lamenting the fact that I completely out of touch with baking. If you look at the archives on this blog, you’ll notice the last entry was made some time in 2010- a good 5 years ago. Many blogs I followed years ago had moved on and become too advanced for me. Blogs from across the globe were great but finding all the ingredients they use has always been a challenge. I wanted something simple, easy to follow and based out of India.

I found  this blog quite by accident last week. I spent  a few stolen minutes in office browsing though it. Yesterday, I jotted down the recipe of the pull-apart rolls  and tried it out last night. The result was lovely. Thank you Saee!

I made minor changes in the recipe- only in terms of flavours- marked in italics. All proportions are exactly as on the original blog post. 

Ingredients:

  • 200 gm flour/maida
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • Home-made hari (green)chutney
  • 1 cube of amul cheese
  • Chilli flakes
  • Butter for brushing ready bread

Method:

  • Heat ¾ cup water till it’s warm. You should be able to comfortably dip your fingers in it.  Dissolve the sugar and then add the yeast. (On earlier occasions, I have also used honey in place of sugar and got consistent, good results.) Keep aside till it is frothy and mix well.
  • Sift together maida and salt. I simply mix it well using a spoon. Add the water-sugar-yeast mixture to this. Knead well for 5 mins or so. I found that the dough was slightly on the sticky side. To bring it all together I used a little olive oil and made a neat log.
  • Cover and keep the dough log in a warm place till it doubles in size. This takes about 30 mins. Delhi has seen rains in the last week so the weather is cooler than it usually is in March. Despite that, my dough could rise well in 30 mins.
  • Remove the dough and flour a flat kitchen surface. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
  • Since I wanted two flavours, I split the dough into two halves and rolled them individually. In one I spread  coriander chutney that I had ready and in the other grated amul cheese and chilli flakes.  Roll each of the logs and  with a sharp knife cut  approx. 1.5- 2’’ size rounds.  I got 6 chutney rounds & 5 cheese ones.
  • Grease a baking tin with olive oil. Place the rounds keeping some space in between to allow for rising.
  • Cover and keep aside for 20-30 mins, till the dough rises to double again.
  • Place in a preheated oven and bake at 200 deg.C for about 20 mins. Brush with butter when removed from oven.

IMG_2342

IMG_2346

Fresh out of the oven, we had these rolls with soup and paneer bhurji. The rolls were soft and their texture lovely. We polished off 10 rolls between 2 people!

Herbed cheese braided bread-step by step

My luck with baking has, on the whole, been good. By and large things that I try out don’t flop. Miserably that is. They may not turn out to be the best, but at least  they are edible. Bread being the only exception(so far!). When I began baking, I was completely unfamiliar with bread making. Baking cakes was quite a common occurrence at home but no one had ever tried their hand at bread. So  in terms of  getting advice on what to do and how, I had precious little to begin with.  I took me a while and a whole lot  of wasted dough  and numerous phone calls to Lakshmi to get my first loaf of edible bread.

 One recipe that always works for me is the French bread rolls. I have experimented with other recipes as well, but somehow they never turn out as good as this one. Just yesterday I tried the potato bread from A mad tea party and messed it up. I think I have figured out what went wrong.  I read somewhere that it is better to work with the same recipe multiple times that to try out multiple recipes (I think it was on A mad tea party, if I am not mistaken). I think I am going to be in the stage of trying variations of the bread roll recipe for some more time. I would love it if I would be able to experiment ceaselessly with other’s recipes and get fabulous results,better still, if I could come up with my own recipes, but I realise that will take some time…OK, a lot  of time.  That said, I also realise that even with one good recipe that works for you, you can do a hundred different things to get a hundred different flavours and shapes of bread. It is all about creativity… and good yeast! 😛

Monika’s experiments  with bread making have been similar to what mine where a few months back. We discussed it over chat and I  while I was making bread yesterday evening(that was attempt 2, after failing at the potato bread. I needed something for Monday’s breakfast, you see), I though of taking a step wise series of pictures. Sort of like a guide to help her, or anyone else who wants to get started with bread making. I tweaked the basic recipe to turn it into the expotic sounding Herbed cheese braided bread but its essentially the same recipe witha few add ons. Here’s what you’ll need-

Ingredients:

  • Maida –1C
  • Wheat flour 1C
  • Milk/ Water – 3/4 cup
  • Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Honey/ Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Basil(dry)-2 tsp
  • Chopped garlic-2 tsp
  • Cheese cube (grated)-1
  • Butter (optional) – to grease the top

The method of making this bread is fairly straightforward-

  • Warm the water/milk. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Dissolve sugar. Add yeast and set aside for 10 minutes until yeast is activated.
  • Add 2 cups of flour and the salt to the yeast and incorporate. Gradually add the rest of the flour and incorporate into a dough. Add the oil.
  • Knead for 5 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Transfer to a kneading surface if needed. Cover and let the dough rise to about double its size – about 1-2 hours.
  • Deflate the dough.Divide into 3 parts. Incorporate the herb,,cheese and garlic into the three portions and roll into logs. Shape in a braid. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Place in preheated over. Bake at  200 C for 15-20 minutes or until golden in colour.
  • Brush with butter after removing from oven.

And now for the pictorial guide..

1.Get your ingredients together. Measure and keep ready.

2. Heat water. Make sure the temperature is just right. Put in the measured quantity of yeast and allow to stand for 8-10 minutes. All the yeast shoudl dissolve.

dissolving yeast-stage 1

dissolving yeast-stage 2

dissolving yeast-stage 3

3. Add the flour to the yeast water.  Add it in portions and mix well.

While using a spoon is a neater way to work, its not always the most practical! At some point you will have to make to kneading the dough with your hands.  Its just quicker and more efficient to work that way.  Instead of using a bowl, you can move your dough to the counter- you’ll have more space to work that way. Spend at least 5-7 minutes kneading the dough. Towards the end of the kneading process, the dough should collect together and should not be sticky.

The ready dough should look something like this-

4. Transfer to clean bowl and place in a warm, draft free place and allow the dough to rise to double its original volume. This should take about an hour.

dough- before 

dough -after

5.Remove the risen dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured working counter and punch down. Divide into three equal portions.

Flatten each of the three portions and spread herbs,cheese and garlic. Fold in the sides and roll into three slim logs. Its easier to braid if the ends are thinner than the centre of the logs.

6. Pinching together the ends of the three,begin braiding the bread.

 

When you reach the end, pinch together the ends to seal. You can also make braids with 5 or 6 logs, but thats a little complicated for me, so I stick to 3 logs. You can look at youtube videos below to figure out the braiding.

7.Transfer to a greased baking try and bake till golden brown.

The final product

Crumb shot

Here are some simple tips that might help you when you begin. I have made errors in practically all these categories at some or the other time!

  • Measurements- Baking ,including baking bread, is all about measurements. If you have that wrong your whole recipe goes for a toss. Recipes will either mention ingredients in weight or by cup measurement depending on which country the recipe came from. Some websites allow you to move from cup measurements to the metric system and vice versa. It’s a good idea to invest in a set of measuring cups and spoons. For some reason I couldn’t find measuring cups  easily here. I had to hunt for them like crazy but now that I have them, life is easier. J  If you are using recipes that measure ingredients in the metric system, a kitchen scale will come in handy. But I have found the regular kitchen scales that we get aren’t precise so measuring small quantities can be a struggle.
  • Yeast- This is what makes your bread rise so its important to get your hands on a good quality yeast. Fresh yeast gives infinitely better results but in my experience its hard to find a shop that sells it. If you can locate a shop that does, great, else stick to dry active yeast. Its easier to find in the market and has a better shelf life. In my experience yeast stays better if you keep in an airtight container after opening the packet and use it within a month or so (inspite of what the instructions on the packet may say).  I don’t think there is one universal brand available across the country so you’ll just have to make do with whatever band you get in your city. We get a brand called Bluebird here. It makes the yuckiest custard power, but it’s yeast is pretty ok.
  • Sugar- This is food for the yeast to feed on and multiple. You can easily substitute it with honey.  If you have powered sugar handy, used that instead of granulated sugar. No great reason behind this, just that it dissolves faster in water!
  • Water- is used as a medium to dissolve the yeast. Make sure you water is not too hot, else you will kill the yeast. The best test for temperature is to dip a finger. The water should be warm and you should be able to comfortable dip your finger in. If you are using wheat flour as a substitute for all or part of the all purpose flour in the recipe, you will require a higher quantity of water.
  • All Purpose Flour- If you look at the recipes in the blogworld, you will find people mention all sorts of specifications about APF, protein content being the most common. If you know of such a sophisticated store that provides you maida with details of nutrient content, go ahead and buy it, if you like. I have always used regular maida that you get at all shop and got decent results.
  • Wheat flour-  is the healthier option than maida. You can substitute all or part of the maida with atta (and increase the proportion of water too). All wheat bread tend to be heavy  and all maida breads are unhealthy. So in my view a 50-50 percentage works best. The resulting bread is light and nutritious.
  • Patience- You cant make bread in a hurry. You have to allow it ample time to rise. If you are in a hurry and set the bread to bake prematurely, you;ll get a heavey bread. So begin the process of brad making only when you know you have sufficient time. Wheat breads take longer to rise than APF ones.