Bread Horns | Baking

So I’ve been working on my sourdough bread which turned out to be disaster, last week. Yes the sourdough starter is live and kicking but the bread was another story. Will elaborate on that in another post soon. So when your bread has failed, you are miserable, and you feel like you suddenly don’t know how to cook / bake etc…. it’s time to go back to the basics (for moral boosting) with a twist….well literally eh !!

Over the weekend I baked Bread Horns. They are such a delight to look at !! Perfect for parties and a sure shot crowd pleaser. I used the basic dinner roll recipe for these cuties and filled them with chicken mince. You can obviously let your imagination run wild and will with whatever you like. Though a nice prawn salad or a refreshing corn and cucumber salad will be good ideas 🙂

Bread horns come with an added advantage of being guilt-free, unlike their Cream Horn look alikes (well almost), which are made of puff pastry so full of butter and lard and cream….ummm yummm !!!

Bread Horns


250g All Purpose Flour
2 tsps Dry Active Yeast / Instant Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
Luke warm water as required

For The Filling

500 g chicken mince
2 spring onions
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 capsicum
1 tbsp oil
White sauce / cheese sauce.
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder


1. Prove the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and lukewarm water.

2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt and olive oil. Mix well with your hands

3. Now add the cultured yeast and the warm milk. Rub well, till the yeast and milk are completely incorporated in the flour.

4. Now start kneading the dough and use the push-n-fold method. You’ll need to knead this till the dough is elastic enough and absolutely smooth, about 10-12 minutes.

5. To check if the dough is well kneaded, roll it into a ball and press it gently, if the springs back, the dough is ready. If not, knead it a little more.

6. Rest the dough in a big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep it to prove for 1-1.5 hours, till it doubles in size.

7. Once the dough has doubled itself, punch it down and divide into 12 equal portions. 

8. Now roll each ball into a long strip (the way we used to play with our playdough and make snakes) and wrap it onto the horn moulds. Make sure you pinch them at the bottom to seal them.

9. Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment.

10. Brush with the milk and sugar glaze or the egg wash and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

11. In the mean time preheat your oven to 220 degrees C and bake the bread horns for about 20 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven, transfer on the cooling rack and let them cool down completely.

The filling

1. While the horns and baking and cooling make the filling.

2. Saute` onions in a pan, add the chicken mince and cook through. Now add the bell peppers and capsicum and saute` for another minute. Finish off with salt and pepper.

3. Mix in the white sauce / cheese sauce, adjust the seasoning and let it cool down completely.

Once both the horns and the filling is cooled completely, fill the horns with the chicken mince and serve.
you can either warm them slightly or serve them as it is. This depends on your preference as well as the kind of filling !

Happy Baking !!

Bread…yet again | Baking

Another weekend, another bread loaf !! I think i’ll never get tired of telling you how much I love to bake breads and how versatile a dough it is !! Before you think I’m a broken record…..let’s move on…

So this time it is a 30% whole wheat flour  (atta) and the rest is maida (all purpose flour). You will see every time you change the proportions of the flour your dough behaves differently. A simple basic loaf that goes well with curries or even as a grilled sandwich.


1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2.25 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Lukewarm Water


1. Activate the yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water.

2. In the meantime, mix both the flours, salt and olive oil together.
3. Now add the yeast and mix it well into the flour mixture. It should look crumbly, like a bread crumbs mix. You essentially need to rub the yeast into the flour with your fingers.
4. Now add the water gradually and knead it into a soft springy dough.
5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. 

6. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled.
7. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into the desired shape. I wanted to make it round ! Transfer onto the dusted baking tray.
8. Cut a cross onto the loaf. Sprinkle some poppy seeds and let it rest for 30 minutes.
15 minutes before your dough is ready to go into the oven, preheat the oven on 220 degree centigrade and once preheated place the loaf tin into the oven. Bake at 220 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes.
9. Once the bread is golden brown on the top remove from the oven and transfer the loaf on to wire racks until it is completely cool.
10. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

Happy B(re)aking Bread !!

Condiment Series | Chimichurri | Dip

Chimichurri !! Trying saying this word without it bringing a smile to your face. I love the ring in the word itself, imagine what the dip would actually do !!

So chimichurri is a burst of ‘Freshness” with fresh herbs like Parsley-n-Cilantro and some Jalapenos.
Originally from Argentina, this looks so much like the Pesto. Popular in South America, it is used for steaks and other grilled meats. Though obviously nothing stops you from serving with vegetarian dishes too. I love my chimichurri with grilled pineapples and grilled vegetables and cottage cheese. Incidentally that is my dinner tonight 🙂

Go ahead, experiment !! Add it to a salad or toss in a fusilli pasta. Spread it on a Crostini. The options are many.



1/2 Cup of Fresh Parsley
1/2 Cup of Fresh Cilantro 
4 cloves Garlic
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper (I used 4 regular green chillies)
2 tbsp chopped Scallions or Onion
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper


1. Pulse parsley, cilantro, scallions and garlic together. They should look finely chopped.
2. Now add the remaining ingredients. Pulse again till well blended.

3. Serve. The way you like it. Add a little extra olive oil and it works very well as a dip with garlic bread or toasties.

Happy Chimichurri to you !!

Peasant’s Bread

The smell of bread baking is the one of the most heartwarming aromas in the world !!

What do you do when people at home refuse to eat store bought bread? KJ refuses to buy bread anymore. If he had his way i’ll only be baking this bread day in and day out.. 
Bread, good bread is the ultimate comfort food. Perfect when you need your shot of carbs !! 

 “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” – Robert Browning

I’ve been on a bread-high these days and was completely sold on the looks of this beauty. It looks as good as it tastes, but then isn’t that the key to well cooked food. It should look as good as it should taste.
This  is a simple recipe, actually the easiest so far. Soft and porous inside and crispy outside. 
As the name suggests, it is a simple Peasant’s bread with just 4 ingredients. Peasant’s bread also known as Farmer’s Bread is a basic bread with minimal ingredients but fantastic taste. 

KJ has spent many years in Sri Lanka,  and swears that it tastes like their local bread which  was sold on carts, wrapped in old newspaper.It’s the unsophistication and rustic charm of the countryside which lends to its aroma. 

I recently served this for a dinner and this bread beautifully complimented my Shepherd’s Pie, a Garden Salad and Spagetti Aglio-o-lio with Pesto. I had friends going gaga over the bread …the humble accompaniment was actually the star of my dinner spread. Even friends who were not so much bread people loved it….and probably more loved the fact that it was homemade bread ! 

For sandwiches, for butter toasts or for an accompaniment, I can safely say this bread has been by far my best….thanks to Alexandra of Alexandra’s Kitchen

Peasant’s Bread – Recipe


4 cups All-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups lukewarm water

1 tbsp Sugar

2 tsp Active-dry yeast

Room temperature butter, about 2 tbsp


1. In a large mixing bowl whisk the flour and the salt. Set aside. Grease a separate large bowl with butter or olive oil and set this aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no reason to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step is just to ensure that the yeast is active. Now, gently stir it up, and add to the flour bowl. Stir this mixture up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mixture will be wet. Scrape this mixture into prepared greased bowl from step 1.
3. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for at least an hour. (If you have the time to let it rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, do so — this will help the second rise go more quickly.) If you feel the temperature where you stay is not too high, you could always preheat the oven at 180C for one minute. Turn it off and keep the dough in it. The trapped heat will help the dough to rise.

4. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Grease two oven-safe bowls (such as the pyrex bowls) with about a tablespoon of butter each. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. As you scrape it down try to turn the dough up onto itself if that makes sense. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough into two equal portions — eye the center of the mass of dough, and starting from the center and working out, pull the dough apart with the two forks. Then scoop up each half and place into your prepared bowls. This part can be a little messy — the dough is very wet and will slip all over the place. It’s best to scoop it up fast and plop it in the bowl in one fell swoop. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes or until it has risen to just below or above (depending on what size bowl you are using) the top of the bowls.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190º and bake for 22 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. If you’ve greased the bowls well, the loaves should fall right out onto the cooling racks. If the loaves look a little pale and soft when you’ve turned them out onto your cooling racks, place the loaves into the oven (outside of their bowls) and let them bake for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Thank you Alexandra for this awesome bread recipe !!

Happy Baking !!

Revisiting Nutrition – WholeWheat Oat Bran Bread

Many nutritionists now believe that a whole wheat parantha (layered flat bread, plain or stuffed and not baked in an oven but fried on a griddle) is packed with more health than bread….white bread. For many years now, as a rule, we do not buy ‘White Bread’. Yes the good old no fuss no frills basic sandwich bread is a virtual persona non grata……even though nothing beats a white bread sandwich when the bread is absolutely fresh !!
Ever since the so called superior whole wheat and multi grain breads swamped the market, their not-so-healthy cousin is used only for bread crumbs or some very specific dishes (which require white bread only)

While I’ve baked whole wheat bread wherein the whole wheat is only added in a certain proportion to the regular all purpose flour, over the weekend I was in one of those ‘oh I must only cook healthy food for my family’ moods and experimented with whole, whole-wheat flour and the added goodness of Oat Bran. I discovered bran about a year back and use it very frequently to make flat breads called Chapatis. Bran is a wonder ingredient, it boosts the body’s metabolism, gives a twist to the good ol’ chapati, is very helpful if you are trying to lose weight (I’m always trying….I always need to. Succeeding is another story though !!) and Oat bran especially is very helpful in reducing cholesterol.

This bread is a lot heavier than than other breads but that is what is intended, so don’t worry. The heavier the bread the the faster it fills you and is more satiating. However if it gets a little too heavy for your liking, you could always reduce the whole wheat flour by 3/4 cup and instead add all purpose flour.
While I was baking this bread, I also went through the ingredient composition of the leading bread brands available, and to my surprise, the multi grains, whole wheat flour, bran etc (all together) is only 5% of the total weight of the flour so obviously the ‘wholesome’ breads that we buy from the market are so soft and so porous. Though I wonder how healthy they are? 

This bread works brilliantly when toasted and is perfect for a wholesome sandwich.

Whole Wheat Oat Bran Bread – Recipe

3 cups Whole Wheat Flour (atta)

3/4 cup Oat Bran

2 tbsp Honey

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

1 tbsp Vital Gluten

1 cup warm water

2 tsp Salt


1. Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and  1 tsp of sugar.

2. Mix the whole wheat flour, oat bran, gluten and salt. 

3. Add olive oil and honey and rub it well into the flour with your finger tips.

4. Add the yeast and start kneading the dough. (I always knead my bread dough with hands), however if you are using the stand mixer, use the paddle hook.

5. Continue kneading the dough till you finish the entire cup of warm water.  This could take upto 10-12 minutes. Slam the dough on the counter top a couple of times to make it soft. It is very important to keep kneading this dough till it starts becoming stretchy. Whole wheat flour dough always take much longer to become stretchy since it has lower levels of gluten.

6. Place the dough in a well greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it rest for 2 hours.

7. After 2 hours, when it has doubled in volume, knock back the dough lightly, knead again and place it in the loaf tin and give it an egg / milk-n-sugar wash.

8.Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 C.

Best served toasted or like a grilled sandwich. 

Happy Baking

Hummus with Pita Bread

When it comes to Hummus and Pita Bread it is hard to decide who is the star !!!
They both deliciously compliment each other and are a perfect company for any party.

Recently at a family get together the host had served Hummus with Pita bread amongst some other unstoppably mouth watering snacks; and since then, I’ve not been able to get this Middle Eastern dip and flat bread out of my mind. I knew my restlessness will only rest once I’ve made my own.

Another first for me….. The pangs of imperfection were at their best till the Pita Bread was safely out of my oven. Breads always do this to me….. we have a love-hate relationship. I’m always so so anxious till my breads come out of the oven.
The recipe is a complete winner, I must say !! We now say good buy to store bought Pita….

This duo was an instant hit with the family with bottles of homemade Hummus and batches of Pita Bread being rotated around. It also makes a lovely gift from your kitchen…



300 g Chickpeas

2 tbsp Tahini

4 cloves of Garlic

Salt to taste

4 tbsp Olive Oil

Juice of 1 lemon (you could increase it or decrease it as per preference)

More Olive for garnishing



1. Soak Chickpeas over night. Boil and drain, saving a little water to add for blending.

2. In a food processor, add the boiled chickpeas, tahini, garlic, salt and olive oil. Blend till all ingredients are well incorporated with each other and the result is a smooth paste.

3. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble with olive oil and garnish with paprika. Serve.

Humus though is commonly considered a Lebanese dish today, its origin is considered to be from Egypt. You can play around with the flavour….make it more lemony or garlicy or may be a more over powering flavour of tahini ….as your palette likes.

Pita Bread

Recipe adapted from Chef in Disguise


1 package (about  2  ½ teaspoons)  Dry Yeast
½ cup Warm Water
1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
1 tablespoon Honey
4 to 4 ½  cups All-purpose Flour
2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoon Dry Milk 
1 ½ cup Lukewarm Water


Preparing Pita bread dough
1. Proof the yeast by mixing it with the ½ cup of lukewarm water and sugar. Wait for the yeast to foam and bubble.
2. In a bowl add the flour, salt and powdered milk then drizzle the olive oil and honey.
Using your fingertips rub the oil and honey into the flour, mixing all the other ingredients in the process. Keep rubbing the flour until the oil and honey is completely taken up by the flour.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast water mix and gradually 1 cup of warm water.
4. Using a wooden spoon (if you are doing this by hand) or the  hook attachment if doing this in a stand mixer, stir to form a dough.
5. Take the dough out of the bowl or mixer and place on a floured surface.
6. Add the rest of the water slowly and knead with your hands to get a better feeling of the dough.
7. Continue kneading until the dough becomes soft, smooth and elastic ( this takes about 5-7 min.)
A tip that will get you smoother dough is to left the dough and slam it on the table 7-10 times as you knead it.
8. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, lightly coat it with oil and cover the bowl with a damp clean towel.
9. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size – usually an hour and a half (the time required depends on how hot it is where you are). 

10. When the dough doubles in size, punch it down and then pinch out 10-12 small pieces, depending on the size you like your pita.
11. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered with a damp clean towel for 10- 15 minutes.
12. Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles, 3-4 mm in thickness
13. Place circles of dough on a flat board or a table, covered  with dry cloth and then place a clean damp cloth over the dough discs and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
Baking Pita bread
1. In the meantime, Preheat oven to 270 C or to the highest temperature your oven will go.
2. Place the rack at the very bottom of oven or better yet take it out all together and place your baking sheet directly on the oven floor.
Preheating your baking sheet is an essential step to get your bread to puff up perfectly. If you have a pizza stone you can use that to make pita bread but again you need to get it good and hot before you start baking bread.
3. Gently place your dough discs on the preheated baking sheet, make sure that you place the dough flat on the baking sheet, any wrinkles will prevent the bread from puffing up and once you place the dough you will not be able to move it, it will stick to the baking sheet until the bottom is baked.
4. Bake each batch for 2-5 minutes till the bread puffs up, when they do flip the dough on the other side and bake for 1-2 more minutes.
Using a spatula remove the puffed pita bread from the baking sheet and out of the oven, serve hot or  cover with a clean dry towel till the bread cools down.
If you leave the pita bread uncovered as it cools it will become dry and crusty
5. When the bread cools place it in your storage bags.
Storing Pita bread
Fresh pita bread will keep in a bag at room temperature for 2-5 days. In the freezer it will keep in good condition for up to a month. Just take the amount you need out of the freezer and warm on your stove top or in the oven for a minute or two.
Serve it with Hummus or any other choice of dip.
Make sandwiches of the pita pockets. (The open up beautifully)
Happy Baking !!

Ciabatta – The Italian Bread

It’s best to cook when you are cooking for someone….cooking something on someone’s request !!!

A few days back, I met a old friend after a long long time and got talking on food (what else would you expect from me….) and during the course of the conversation discovered a mutual love for all things good (read Italian food). He loves to eat and I love to cook.
I’m always up for a new challenge….always ready to try something I’ve never done before and breads are my favourite. He asked if I knew how to bake a Ciabatta. I said I didn’t but I could always try…..
Ciabatta is an Italian white bread…’s crusty on the outside and soft inside. The pores of this bread are larger, they almost look like small craters or pockets. It is an excellent accompaniment to soups and is best had toasted. 
A sandwich made from the ciabatta is called a Panino.
So here’s my first attempt to baking the Italian Ciabatta !!!
Discovered a new way of using yeast….did some improvisation on the original procedure.
Ciabattas take longer than the usual breads to prepare, but it’s worth every bit of that effort. A perfect bread to bake on a weekend.
Like sourdough breads require a starter…. though it is a natural starter without yeast, Ciabattas also require a starter called the Biga (in Italian). It is a pre ferment made with yeast, flour and water.
Biga is used in breads which require light open texture with holes…yes holes along with the regular pores and also adds a complexity to the bread’s flavour.

I was quite pleased with the results and so were KJ and mum-n-dad. I already have an ultimatum from mum that this time she surely wants a bigger loaf …. 🙂 Can’t wait to get them baking again….

Ciabatta Recipe
Makes 4 loaves

1 tspn active Dry Yeast
5 tbspns Warm Milk
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons Water, at room temperature (if using a food processor, use cold water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 very full cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) biga, rested for 12 hours (see the recipe at the end)
3 3/4 cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces / 15 grams) salt
If making the ciabatta in a stand mixer: 
Stir the yeast into the milk in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, oil, and biga and mix with the paddle until blended. Mix the flour and salt, add to the bowl, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.
If making the ciabatta in a food processor:
Stir the yeast into the milk in a large bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of cold water, the oil, and the biga and mix, squeezing the biga between your fingers to break it up. Place the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the dough blade and pulse several times to sift the ingredients. With the machine running, pour the biga mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together. Process about 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading on a well-floured surface until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show signs of being velvety, supple, moist, and springy.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, very supple, elastic, and sticky.
3. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces on a well-floured surface. Roll each piece into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle, pulling with your fingers to get each piece long and wide enough. It should be approximately 10 by 4 inches.
4. Generously flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on peels or upside-down baking sheets. Place each loaf, seam side up, on a piece of parchment. Dimple the loaves vigorously with your fingertips or knuckles so that they won’t rise too much. The dough will look heavily pockmarked, but it is very resilient, so don’t be concerned. Cover the loaves loosely with damp towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled, 1 1/2  to 2 hours. The loaves will look flat and definitely unpromising, but don’t give up; they will rise more in the oven.
5. Approximately 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and slide your baking stones on the center rack to heat.
6. Just before baking the ciabatta, sprinkle the stones with cornmeal. Carefully invert each loaf onto a stone. If the dough sticks a bit to the parchment, just gently work it free from the paper. If you need to, you can leave the paper and remove it 10 minutes later. Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Transfer the ciabatta loaves to wire racks to cool.


1. If you do not have a baking stone you could invert a cast iron skillet or a griddle and place it in the centre of your oven. It works equally well.

Recipe for Biga


¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces/ 60 grams) warm water
¾ cup plus 4 teaspoons (7 ounces/ 200 grams) water, preferably bottled spring water, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups (11.6 ounces / 330 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, 1 cup at a time. 
If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes. If mixing with a stand mixer, beat with the paddle at the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing with a food processor, mix just until a sticky dough forms.
3. Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours. When ready, the starter will be triple its original volume and still be wet and sticky. (The bakers I admire most advise 10 to 11 hours for the first rise, but others are very happy with the 24 hours it takes for dough to truly become yesterday’s dough. If you like sour bread, allow your biga to rest for 24 to 48 hours, or you might even stretch it to 72 hours.) Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. (If refrigerating the biga, use within 5 days. If freezing the biga, let it rest at room temperature for about 3 hours until it is bubbly and active again.) When needed, scoop out the desired amount of biga for your recipe and proceed.
Happy Baking !!

Sourdough Bread

With the mercury soaring to 45C, this is the perfect time to try my hands at the temperamental Sourdough !!
The December Challenge for the Daring Bakers was the Sourdough bread which did not work for me. The temperamental starter refused to cooperate and ferment. It felt a little too cold in my December kitchen and I was determined to try it again when the weather changes.
The reward of a summer baker is beautifully risen sour dough starters and yeast fermentations.
I love doing breads in summer. Cakes and rich desserts are more for the winter or the spring !!
So this weekend’s baking was the Sourdough bread.

For those of us who are new to sourdough here’s what it’s all about:
Sourdough bread is essentially bread made without yeast. In comparison with yeast-based breads, it produces a distinctively tangy or sour taste, mainly because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli; the actual medium, known as “starter” or leaven.

Sourdough likely originated in Ancient Egyptian times around 1500 BC and was likely the first form of leavening available to bakers.
Bake along……

Russian Rye Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves and excess rye starter to keep for further baking.
Rye Starter – Day 1:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total scant ½ cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86°F/30°C if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer. It should be a very sloppy, runny dough, which will bubble and grow as it ferments.
Rye Starter – Day 2:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1/2 cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
Rye Starter – Day 3:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (9 oz/255 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place. If you notice it has a grey liquid on top, just stir this back in and continue as normal.

Rye Starter – Day 4:

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (255 gm/9 oz) starter from Day 3
Total about 1¾ cups (440 ml) (12 oz/340 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!
Rye Starter, ready for baking.

Russian Rye Bread – Step 1: Production Sourdough

1/4 cup less 2 teaspoons (50 ml) (50 gm/1 ¾ oz) rye leaven (starter)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) water
Total 2½ cup (600 ml) (500 gm/17½ oz/1 lb 1½ oz)
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours, until bubbling. Set aside the remaining starter for further loaves – see the Notes section for tips!

Russian Rye Bread – Step 2: Final Dough

2 cups (480 ml) (440 gm/15 ½ oz) production sourdough (this should leave some (½ cup) to become your next loaf of bread!)
2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (330 gm/11 ⅔ oz) rye flour (light or whole)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm/.2 oz) sea salt or ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm/.1 oz) table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (200 ml) (200 gm/7 oz) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons (1245 ml) (975 gm/2 lb 2⅓ oz)

1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. With wet hands, scoop the dough up and put it in a well-greased loaf tin.
 2. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag, blow it up, and seal it. This should make a good little dome for your bread to proof inside. Set aside somewhere room temperature to warm.
3. The dough should be ready to bake with in anywhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how warm it is. I proof mine by a sunny window in about 4 hours. If the dough was halfway up the tin when you started, it will be ready when it reaches the top (i.e. almost doubles in size).
4. Preheat the oven to very hot 470°F/240°C/gas mark 9. For a large loaf, bake for 50-60 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after about 10-15 minutes. If baking in small loaf tins, bake for 35-45 minutes, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes. If you are unsure about whether it is done, give it a few minutes longer – it is a very wet dough, so the extra time won’t hurt.
5. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, and rest the loaf for a day before eating it.

Happy Baking !!

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah Bread | Daring Baker’s Challenge May 2012

“Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz”
(Blessed are you, LORD, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth)

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah!  Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I’d missed out on the last few Daring Baker’s Challenges, so this month I was determined to take one … especially when it’s a beautiful bread.
Challah is a traditional Jewish bread baked on special occasions like the Sabbath. Baked with eggs, the bread gets a beautiful texture and is usually a braided bread. These could be three , four or six strand braids.
I worked with 3 strands since I was trying my hands on a braided bread for the first time.

I still remember the taste of the first ever home baked bread I had every eaten. I was 11 yrs old and  our neighbour, a young twenty something South Indian boy used to bake this absolutely delicious out-of-this-world braided bread. That aroma I’ve never smelt ever again… unique so delicious so appetizing.
If you are someone like me who is braiding a bread for the first time, the links at the bottom of the post will come in handy to learn braiding.

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah
(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 4-6 hours
2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salts 
3 large eggs
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Happy Baking !!