Baguette | Mushroom and Bell Pepper Bruschetta| Black and White Wednesday No. 6
When a Birdy’s outlet opened up bang opposite my house, I did a little jig to celebrate easy access to decent bread. (In this area of Thane, it is rare to find anything beyond a blue packet of sliced commercial white bread.) I had dreams of eating fresh garlic bread with a casual pasta on cold nights and fresh egg salad sandwiches in sliced bran bread. I stocked up on good coffee so I could dash out and get a warm croissant to go with my 4 o’clock cup. All of that came crashing down as I sampled one disastrous, piece of cardboard bread product after another.
So while I should be napping while my daughter naps and catching up on some much-needed shuteye, I have been spending an afternoon too many baking simple, everyday breads for my family to enjoy. And every time, I realize how easy and satisfying it is to make my own bread. What can better than the knowledge that the bread you’ve made contains the best of ingredients, no commercial additives, and is perfectly safe for your toddler to enjoy? What better than tearing out a piece of home-made bread and dunking it in a hearty soup for a quietly happy dinner with your husband? What better than watching your daughter gnaw at the chewy crust of freshly baked bread as soon as she’s done with her afternoon nap?
This simple baguette is a rustic beauty. It is chewy in texture because it contains no fat, and goes very well with broths, soups, and hearty stews. In the rare case that you have some left over, make sandwiches.
- 225 gms. plain flour
- 10 gms. fresh yeast or 20 gms. dried yeast
- 10 gms. sugar
- 5 gms salt
- 1 tbsp. poppy seeds (optional)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (to wash; optional)
- Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl with some lukewarm water in it. Allow to froth.
- In a large basin, make a dough using the salt, flour, and the yeast mixture. Add more water if necessary.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead well for at least five minutes or until you can stretch the dough a foot in length without it snapping.
- Cover and leave to rest in a warm spot until it doubles in size (about 20 minutes).
- Knock back the dough. When you punch a hole in it, it should not spring back, but collapse in submission.
- Knead lightly and shape into a long loaf, as thin and as long as your oven size allows or as you like it.
- Make slits along the diagonal and allow to rise again.
- For a golden crust, brush with egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Else, just sprinkle with water.
- Bake at 175 degrees centigrade in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing.
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