Rustic bread for beginners

We love cooking. There’s something extremely gratifying about being in full control of the kitchen and whipping up a meal for a pack of greedy and appreciative friends, especially ones like our good friends L & P. Every step of the process, you can see, smell and taste; making small adjustments along the way, and even incorporating a little flair and personality in order to whip up that perfect dish.

Baking, on the other hand, hasn’t exactly been as interesting to us. While we love the final products of well mixed flour and water, we have always felt a certain sense of helplessness when it comes to baking. It doesn’t help that measurements are so prescribed and exact, leaving room for creativity scarce. Combine that with a lack of instant gratification (think allowing bread to prove!) and the ensuing downward spiral and loss of control (recall home econs baking flops in Secondary School…arrgh), baking has just never been very enticing. That is, until last Sunday.

A friend of ours offered to introduce us to a family friend who is an avid baker in his free time and suggested a bread making demonstration at his home. We jumped at the opportunity (couldn’t deny devouring the bread was definitely on our minds at that point in time) and so last Sunday afternoon, 5 very hungry gals (who don’t bake) showed up at J’s beautiful home.

Over 4 hours (which really felt like half the time), we baked 2 types of bread – a rustic plain loaf and a wholemeal trail mix multigrain loaf. J was a great teacher and we were amazed at how simple and non-intimidating the entire process was! In between kneading, proving and baking, we also enjoyed J’s wonderful hospitality (we were spoiled rotten!) and wicked company.

Both loaves were perfect. We fought over the crusty bits like naughty little kids, dipping them furiously into the sumptuous casserole that J had been simmering for 2 and a half hours. We also had extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt to go with the multi-grain trail loaf. It was a heavenly meal.

After partaking in and watching how simple and satisfying the entire process was, our previous notions of baking were completely over-turned and we simply cannot wait to jump into the kitchen to fire up that oven! Luckily, as with all eager students, we scribbled down the recipe so that we could post and share this with anyone who has never tried their hand at baking…it is truly one of life’s simple pleasures.

Super simple plain rustic bread (from our handwritten notes)
 
500 ml water
5 mugs of plain bread flour
1 tbsp instant dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 good friends of the greedy kind
* for wholemeal multigrain version, add 50ml additional water and for every 1/2 mug of flour, substitute with 1/2 mug trail mix  of your choice (e.g. pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, sunflower seeds)
 
Heat water in microwave for 45 sec. Add yeast and sugar to water and mix.
Add salt and oil to flour and mix. Combine flour and water mixture to form ball of dough.
Knead dough approximately 150 times (!) or around 5 minutes to introduce air.
Leave aside (covered with cloth) to prove till dough doubles in size.
Knead dough again and form into a ball, add flour if necessary. Divide dough into 2 and pre-shape into baking tray or tin. Coat with light layer of flour and leave in tray/ tin to prove again till dough doubles in size.
Halfway though the final rise, begin preheating the oven to 200 degrees.
Right before placing dough in the oven, score the loaves. Place them in the oven and set timer for 35 min baking time.
After 5 min, use a sheet of aluminum foil to cover loaves.
If using a small oven, may need to rotate the loaves 180 degrees halfway through baking so that they’ll bake evenly.
After 35 min, take the loaves out and tap the base of bread. There should be a nice hollow sound.
Leave bread to stand for 10 min.
Slice, serve and impress greedy friends!!
 

Thanks J for your hospitality and patience with 5 rowdy girls. We’ll be back for your scones!

 

Update:

This is the size of the mug we used. 350ml capacity. To contain about 200g of flour.

 
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6 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Singapore

6 responses to “Rustic bread for beginners

  1. Mint

    As i look at the pictures, i can smell the aroma of freshly baked bread!

  2. kaka

    Wouldnt mind getting down and dirty for this! there is just something erotic and sensual about kneading dough and massaging it with a rolling pin…have been making quick breads in sydney cuz im lazy! Miss a rustic loaf

  3. j

    How big is this “mug” used for measuring flour? Is it the equivalent of a “cup” used in American measurements?

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