Bread baking has become therapeutic for me. If I am not in a good mood or want to just just relax, I start to knead the bread dough. And when the bread is baking in the oven, the aroma that draft from the kitchen is even more soothing. There was a time just a few year back when the white bread was all we ate in the name of bread, as that was the only one available in the market. Then a few years later wheat bread made it's appearance and now although a variety of breads are available, their is something pleasant about baking your own bread. Once you get hold of the yeast and the basic bread baking techniques, you can play around with the flavors and grains and keep inventing your own special each day.
There are two things to keep in mind while baking a bread. First and most important is the quality of yeast you are using and giving yeast sufficient time to proof. If your yeast is not good, it will not become frothy when mixed with warm liquid. In that case, do not use it and get a new packet. the liquid in which yeast is added should be warm and not hot as hot liquid will kill the yeast. Adding sugar in the liquid is important as it is the food for yeast which help them multiply. And then their is the kneading part. Some breads are no knead breads but if kneading is mentioned in the recipe, you must follow it and a good 10-12 minutes are required to knead a dough to make a good bread. Just keep these things in mind and you can be bread baking pro.
This time, I tried a Mediterranean flavored spiral bread. The bread dough is a basic dough which I use very frequently and the filling is Mediterranean inspired with feta cheese, za'atar spice mix, parsley and olive oil. I make my own Za'atar spice mix which is very easy to make and is much flavorful than the store bought ones. But if you are pressed for time and ingredients, go for a ready made one. Here is the recipe to make this bread.
All you need is
For the dough
Bread flour - 3 and 3\4 cup or you can use 3 and 1\2 cup all purpose flour and 1\4 cup vital gluten.
Salt - 2 tsp
Active dry yeast - 2 and 1\4 tsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup ( warm )
Water - 1\2 cup ( warm )
Butter - 2 tbsp ( melted )
For the filling
Feta cheese - 2 tbsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Garlic - 5-6 cloves ( grated)
Fresh parsley - 1\2 cup ( finely chopped )
Za'atar spice mix - 4 tbsp ( Recipe to make your Za'atar spice mix is on my other blog. Click here for the recipe )
Milk - 2 tbsp ( for brushing on top )
Sesame seeds - 2 tsp ( for sprinkling on top )
Method of preparation
For the dough
Mix bread flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Mix yeast, sugar, warm milk, warm water and melted butter in another bowl.
Let the yeast proof for 10 minutes until it is frothy.
Add the yeast mixture in the flour.
Mix on low speed till combined.
Mix on medium speed for 6-8 minutes.
If you don't have a stand mixer, transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead with the heels of your hands for 10-12 minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic.
Grease a large bowl and transfer the dough in it.
Cover and keep the bowl in a warm place for 1 and 1\2 hours till the dough doubles in size.
For the filling
Mix all the ingredients except milk and sesame seeds in a bowl to make a smooth paste.
Take out the dough on a floured surface.
Roll the dough to make an even 9 x 15 inch rectangle.
Spread the filling evenly on the dough.
Roll the dough tightly from the short side to make a cylinder.
Grease and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Keep the cylinder in the prepared pan.
Cover the pan with a cloth and keep aside for 30-40 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C.
Put a rack on the lower third and one in the middle.
Boil two cups of water and put it in a shallow pan.
Keep the pan in the lower third rack.
Brush the loaf with milk and sesame seeds on top.
Keep the pan in the middle rack.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Change the oven setting to TOAST mode where both the rods are working.
In my oven it is represented by 2 parallel lines.
Bake for another 5-10 minutes till the bread is nicely browned from top.
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the bread on a cooling rack and cut into slices once cooled.