I know, I know, as usual it’s been way too long since I’ve last posted! I have mostly been posting on my crafting blog, so if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, head on over there! I even have a giveaway going on now for five gift certificates to my etsy shop!
But on to business! I have definitely been doing more than just crafting lately. One of the things I do at least once or twice a week is bake bread. Since Svara is allergic to dairy, it rules out almost all of the breads at the store (except for an organic one that has seeds that Svara doesn’t like), so I have no choice.
Last week I had the urge to bake a LOT of bread one day, as I wanted to bake more than just Svara’s usual multi grain bread. Plus it had rained in the morning so it was cloudy and cool (well, cool by Malaysian tropical standards). So I made a total of FOUR types of bread! First the usual multi grain, then walnut and onion, ciabatta, and lastly a cinnamon raisin pull apart bread. Here are some photos of my bread baking marathon:
And here are some closeups of the cinnamon raisin pull apart bread. I saw the recipe on another blog, you can find the recipe here.
So with all these photos of breads I have to give a recipe, right? I’ll share my usual recipe for multi grain bread that I make at least once a week. The thing about bread baking is that it is VERY flexible. You can change the amounts of ingredients and as long as the final dough has enough flour and is kneaded enough, it’ll turn out! But here is my general recipe:
Multi Grain Bread
10 oz warm water (1 1/4c) (use leftover water from boiling potatoes if you have it)
2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
2T powdered soy milk *see note
1-3T of sugar or honey (optional)
1 pound of flour ingredients **see note
Mix together the water, sugar/honey and yeast and let the yeast start to bubble a bit. Stir in the oil, powdered soymilk, and salt. Start adding the flour 1/2 cup-1 cup at a time. When you have stirred in enough flour to be able to knead, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead for 10-20 minutes. Add flour as needed to keep it from sticking. The longer you knead it the better your bread will rise. Place the finished dough into an oiled bowl and let rise, covered, until doubled (about 1 hour).
Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan (or make a round or long loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet). Let rise until at least doubled (about 1 hour). Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for approximately one hour or until browned and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom. Let cool on a rack for at least 1/2 hour before cutting.
*Feel free to use powdered dairy milk if you eat dairy, and you can also skip this and use milk (dairy or non dairy) instead. Or just skip this altogether, but it does add softness to the bread
**About the flour. I have found it easier to weigh the flour for bread making rather than measuring since it’s more accurate and I can more easily sub different flours, but you can definitely measure instead. You can start with 3-4 cups of flour options and then add more as necessary. So what are your flour options? My usual mix is:
4 oz unbleached bread flour (has more protein than regular flour)
2 oz ground flaxseed (adds a lot of healthy oils and other nutrients)
4 oz. rolled oats (they break down most of the way as the bread is kneaded, so you don’t need to grind them into a flour but you can if you wish)
6 oz whole wheat flour (you can skip the unbleached and use all whole wheat flour instead if you prefer a heftier loaf of bread).
Other flours you can add in place of the rolled oats are buckwheat, millet, teff, barley, rye, anything really, it’s very flexible! If you don’t want to add the ground flaxseeds you can substitute any flour, or other ground or whole seeds such as sesame, sunflower, etc.
Bread Making Tips
When I make bread I actually use a breadmaker to do the stirring and kneading of the dough. I then take it out of the bread machine and let it rise in a bowl and shape it myself. I don’t like the way the breadmaker shapes and bakes the bread, but it sure is awesome for saving time and kneading the dough! I bought mine on clearance a few years ago and love it! Just check the dough while it’s kneading to see if you need to add any extra flour or water to get the dough perfect.
Feel free to add any extras to your bread to make it unique. Leftover cooked grains are great. Leftover cooked oatmeal is a good way to use up those leftovers from breakfast. Just be sure that if you add anything with extra liquid you check to see if you need to add extra flour to compensate.
Baking Bread in a Tropical Climate
When I first moved to Malaysia I had a hard time baking bread. It was so frustrating since I’ve been baking bread since I was a child! My bread would not rise, or turn out bad tasting. After doing lots of research and reading and experimenting I finally figured some things out. First of all, it’s hot here so you do NOT need to start your bread with warm water. In fact, I usually start with ICE water! If I start with warm water, the dough will rise VERY quickly. Also, when bread dough is too warm while rising it allows a certain bacteria to grow in it which will give the bread an off taste, kind of sourish but not nice like sourdough bread. It is not a harmful bacteria and won’t make you sick or anything, but I find it rather unpleasant. So I start with ice water which keeps my dough cool enough while rising that this will not be a problem. Another thing you can do is to rise the dough in an enclosed area (such as inside a microwave) with some ice packs around the bowl. This keeps the air cool enough that the unpleasant taste will not develop. Some people have success letting bread rise in the fridge, but for me this takes too long and sometimes doesn’t work as well.
If you’ve read this post all the way to the end, congratulations! I hope you try baking your own bread, experimenting with it, and having fun!