February 25, 2009

The Great White Bread...

I always get enticed by stories where the main protagonists live right next to the best bakery in the neighborhood and take a daily walk... hear the birds chirping and see the early morning rays pierce thru the sleepy trees, smell the dew on the grass, feel the misty light swirling around.. to reach the bakery and exchange a few words with the baker while choosing the bread of the day.. It's the grown up equivalent of the old Enid Blyton charm of tea sandwiches and lemonade.

After coming here, I was bread heaven.. I would go to the supermarket and stand stupefied in the bread aisle..yes, there is an entire aisle dedicated to bread!!! trying to decide which bread to be carried back home..but finally over time, I realised they were all prepacked mass manufactured ones which I got bored soon of.

In between I tried my hand at the home baked bread too....There is something irresistible about the smell of baking bread..the slightly yeasty, toasty smell that envelops the whole house...they were good but not that good to write about. My folks visited us for the first time in US and my mom and I spent our time making all kinds of bread. Then for a while, my job and kid took over and I stopped experimenting.

By then, Paneras set up shop and that started the love affair with the Artisan breads, the whole wheat baguettes, sourdough bread, the cinnamon raisin bread, the roasted garlic, the olive bread, sun dried tomato bread...needless to say I spent a lot of time and money there for some time. That's how my family got hooked on paninis (a fancy grilled cheese sandwich with lots of stuffing) and french toast with leftover bread.

Then came the no-knead bread revolution, where you could artisan breads (the kind of bread with the crusty exterior and the spongy yummy interior), without getting your hands dirty nor using up too much effort. That bread demystified the whole bread shop and made the stuffy, snobbish sounding "artisan" bread to just a loaf of bread which gets a special treatment to generate the chewy crust. So that bread, along with the five minute bread, all of which I shall write about later, became staples...

BUT.. there was still something wrong.. as anyone with kids knows, unless the kids like it, there is no point in making something again and again...and the Artisan breads were too hard for my kids, so again I was searching..for a simple loaf this time.
Also, my mom is again visiting (though on the other coast of US)and she asked for a white bread recipe to use up the extra yeast. Now the Internet is filled with artisan and fancy breads of all kinds but I couldn't find a simple white bread.
Going back to my old copy of "Bread", a book that was neglected in all this hi-fi baking, I got a white bread recipe..and it was so easy!! Knead once, let it rise, punch down and shape into baking pan, let it rise and then bake.

Anyway, to stop my rambling, here is my first white bread.. It may not perfect and the shape is a little flat as I didn't have the correct loaf pan..(but as my DH says, this can be the reason to buy the loaf pan now.) Is it economical to make your bread? I don't know about that.. but it sure tastes good. I just need to figure out how to store it without the moisture coming in it. Any suggestions for that?
I am not an expert in this, but this recipe seems to be fool proof as I saw it in two different books. Also the temperature distribution in electric and gas ovens will be a little different so the first time may not be perfect. Will keep you updated with my adventures. Do try and if I can I will resolve issues with your results.

You Will Need:
This dough makes 2 loafs so either half the ingredients accordingly or freeze the dough and use it later for the second loaf.
Warm water-1/4 cup (2 fl oz)
Warm Whole Milk- 2cups(16 fl oz)
Active Dry Yeast-4 teaspoons
Sugar-2 tablespoons or honey plus one pinch of sugar.
Unsalted Butter-2 tablespoon, melted
Bread Flour- 6 to 6 1/4 cup plus extra as needed
Canola oil for greasing


In a bowl, combine the water and the 1/4 of the milk. Sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over the liquid and stir to dissolve. Let it stand till foamy, about 10 minutes.
...Most bread recipes call for two risings. Although a time frame is given, it cannot be precise and depends on the temperature of the room and other factors....

In a food processor or in a bowl, combine the remaining milk, sugar, salt and 1/3 of the flour. Whisk or beat till creamy and then add the yeast mix and slowly add the remaining flour one cup at a time so that it all mixes well without any lumps. Keep mixing till the dough pulls away form the bowl side in the food processor.

...To test if the dough has risen enough, press 2 fingers into it. If the indentations remain, the dough is ready to be shaped and left to rise a second time....

Mix with the back of a spoon and knead by hand if you are not using the food processor. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Just like you make a chapathi/puri or batura dough, except that this will be slightly softer. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it lightly with the oil in the bowl.Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a lid and let it rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hrs.

Lightly grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured board/mixing plate and divide in half. Pat it into a rectangle and fold it like an envelope. Roll up the dough tightly into a thick log and roll it back and forth with your hands till it is the same length as the loaf pan.

... To test its readiness after a second rising, press against it with a finger tip.If the imprint remains and the dough holds its shapes, its ready to be baked.....

Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal and place the loaf in the pan , with the seam side down..All this is done just to get a neat rectangular shape so do it any way you like it. Cover loosely again and let it rise for another hour, till the dough has risen one inch over the rim of the loaf pan.Preheat the oven to 375 F(190 C). Bake on the middle rack till the loaf is golden brown and pulls away from the sides, about 40 minutes. Turn out onto a wired rack and let it cook completely. Store in a cool, dark place.


Zerin said...

hi shaheen,

o, you made bread!!! that is one area I was afraid to try out. now since you have made it i have got the confidence to try it. I will surely try it. and hey i started a feed blog as well. when you get the time please check it out. www.foodndus.blogspot.com

Namratha said...

Shaheen, I absolutely loved reading your post, esp the first para which was so vivid :) The bread looks perfect, I still haven't ventured far with the yeasty beast :D

starry nights said...

Love reading your blog.I am a silent reader and have only left a comment now and again.I think your bread looks delicious.I may try it.thanks for the recipe and for the wonderful tips.

Sakshi said...

Sheesh..really is that bread made by u?? to me it looks as good as the ones I drool at Paneras. Well I guess I can't be that gutsy and try baking a bread as am still struggling to get other normal food cooked in the right shape. If you ever plan to open up a bakery I will buy breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week for sure!!!

Nags said...

i made white bread about a month back but yet to edit the pics to post. been escaping with simpler recipes cuz i am plain lazy :D

Myra said...

Hi Shaheen
I definitely will try your bread recipe the texture is perfect,i can even imagine adding things like sun dried tomatoes,Rosemary (upps you don't like Rosemary!) have you tried this?
As for storing bread for me the best method is freezing cooked or raw,for a cooked loaf i cut it like comb,(leaving the loaf whole) so this allow you to cut of what you need and defrosts quickly
Choose a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag, use a drinking straw to suck out the extra air and create a vacuum, then seal the bag up tight.

The second-best container for fresh bread is a cloth bag, believe it or not. it will allow baked goods to breathe, rather than trapping air and moisture like a plastic bag does, yet still retain enough moisture to keep the bread soft and tasty.
Yours Myra

lan said...

the bread does look good! it is always in the back of my mind to try bread baking at some point in my life and i think i'll just come here instead of searching all over when i am set:-) is the bread flour different from all purpose flour?

Anonymous said...

after a couple of disastrous episodes i hav nvr tried..urs looks so yummy, i'll give it one more try;)
but what's bread flour?

Mallugirl said...

zerin, i saw ur blog, but can't seem to be able to leave comments there. some glitch.

Namratha, Half the problem with yeasty breads is in the mind.. try..i feel its easier than cake.

starry nights. i know you.. u were one of my earliest readers and i have read a lot of lovely poems..haven't seen u here in a while though.

sakshi,:))) too much. i bet if u eat it, u will say panera's is btter.. i am just trying out and enjoying the journey.

nags.. u call all that writing abt editing and photos lazy?@@#@#@$
I wish i was a lazy as you.:)

Great Idea Myra.. yup freezing, i am ok with .. its' keeping it fresh for daily use that i was worried abt. now what kind of cloth bag? muslin?

Mallugirl said...

Ian and Ki,Bread flour is also maida but has a higher content of wheat protein in it, which makes it react well with yeast. the opposite of bread flour is cake flour which has very low protein content and reacts well with baking powder/baking soda. Its usually labelled as bread flour on the outside or u could try with all purpose flour.. what kinds of flour do u get there? any brand names?

ki, u have made bread!! when i was writing this post, i was thinking u will be laughing at this adventure!!

A_and_N said...

I'd love to try white bread too. Strangely enough, we've baked different kinds of bread, but never the simple white bread. Funny no?

Divz said...

i can never try that...iam so damn scared to bake bread..great job from u..the bread looks perfect..and btw pls collect ur award frm my blog..

Sia said...

gorgeous!! simply gorgeous looking bread.
i hear u girl. i was totally suprised to see racks and racks filled with different varieties of bread when i came here. bk in india all i knew was simple white bread, fruits bread (little sweet with dry fruits) and ofcourse pav. :)

Anonymous said...

havn't made..tried to make
my 1st try..outside got charred n inside not cooked
2nd try it looked ok, but had an yeasty taste to it
othr than all purpose,self raising flour etc
i havn't come across any othr type..has to go n search..
i use local brands..

Anonymous said...

and shaen,
the linkups (u may like these..)are repeating 4 or 5 times!!!

My comfort food network said...

Shaheen, Nothing like home made bread. I too have tried different home made breads, but as you said there is always something missing, or the kids don't give a thumbs up for it, and so the enthusiasm just dies. I have made some olive, sundried tomato bread it was really good, but I need to make it again to see if it was really fool proof or if I just got lucky. I got to try your bread, seems very simple.

Deepa Hari said...

Nice post...Enjoyed reading it....Bread looks great Shaheen...You have a wonderful blog...Now i can try diff. kerala recipes....Good job.

mathew said...

well its strange for a indian to feel nostalgic about bread..but i have fond memories of the bread from the bakery near home...after school we used to be really hungry and the fresh baked bread (i dont the exact spelling..bormo bread?) was something we used to buy every day evening for our evening tea..with a dumpling of Amul butter myself and bro effortlessly could finish one loaf!;-D

yeah..but I came to know the huge variety of bread possible after coming to germany which i guess should be a cradle for bread..just like wine is to french..this one looks like the kind i love..simple..white and soft!

Superchef said...

i tried baking bread just once and it turned out soo flat that i was really disappointed..never had the guts to try baking it again..your tips are really helpful..will bookmark this as reference when i try my hands at baking bread again!

Mallugirl said...

A n N, i too always made the more complicate breads before venturing into the white bread territory!!

MY comfort.. yup, i love all kinds of diff. breads but the kids are still too young.. they do like to dunk the loaf breads in soups though. baking is not very easy with the loaf breads..

deepa hari, thanks and do let me know ur feedback, good or bad.

Mallugirl said...

Diva, c'mon, its not so difficult.. easier than making momos, i say.

Sia, growing up, i wasn't very exposed to even pav!! loaf bread and sliced bread that's it.so it was amazing to see the range here.i still haven't tried out all the breads.

Mallugirl said...

Ki, the link ups.. i think are coming like that in IE. i will have it resolved soon.
Yeah, i have had some misadventures too with loaf breads...rubbery, chewy,hard....why do u think i have never posted that? but this one was pretty good. let me make it again and i will update the post with the problems.

mathew, borum bread??? anyway, amul butter rules..especially with white bread loafs from the bakery.. at a recent visit to kerala too, my dad was getting yummy fresh bread and yes, we were having bread, amul butter and tea.

Jyothsna said...

I've grown to enjoy different varieties of bread only after coming to dubai. In India, the not so newly introduced brown bread also tastes like white bread. Have never baked bread, am waiting for the right muhurtam as the husband says!

bee said...

breads freeze really well. i've started making or buying two loaves at a time and freezing one. this looks lovely.

Sandeepa said...

Ok so where are you again, i will come and pick up some ;-)

salad-recipe said...

There really is something pristine about baking your own bread. leave alone the aromas wafting around - every thing that accompanies it from simple spreads to more filling stuff - tastes quite different. You just need to do this to find out.

Raaga said...

this looks great. I have yet to make plain white bread :)

Reshmi said...

shaheen just love your blog...will def check out the bread.

Ann said...

If it tastes good, you are on to something big. A lot of bread is blah, but when you get a good recipe, it is hard to beat.