When I started to bake, baking bread was what dreaded me. I always thought it as a very difficult task which should better be left for the bakeries to do. But now after trying my hands on a few bread, it has become therapeutic to me and the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven that lingers in the entire house makes the effort worthwhile. Just keep a few basics in mind and there is nothing complicated or difficult about bread baking.
Firstly, your yeast should be of good quality. A lot of local Indian brands are not up to the mark and I always check my yeast by proofing it before adding it in the flour. The water you are using to dissolve yeast should be warm. Not cold, not hot. Add a little sugar to the water for the yeast to feed on and grow. Let the yeast rest for ten minutes after adding it in water. If you see bubbles on top of the bowl, your yeast is good to use. If there are no or few bubbles formed, discard the yeast.
Next important point is kneading. Flour has gluten in it and that is what makes a good bread. Kneading the flour releases the gluten. So it’s very important to knead your dough for 10-12 minutes if kneading by hand or 8-10 minutes on medium speed if using a stand mixer. Use bread flour to make bread. In India, bread flour is not available very easily. In that case, you can add vital gluten to the flour. That will act as a gluten supplement and bread will come out much better.
So now that your basics are clear, let’s start baking. I baked a Brioche loaf this time and shaped it like a Brioche Nanterre. Brioche Nanterre is a bread rich in egg and butter and is light and slightly puffy. Brioche Nanterre is made by using the same basic brioche dough but shaped a little different. Two rows of small pieces of dough are placed in a pan and then proofed. The pieces stick with each other at the bottom and make an attractive pattern on top. Here is the recipe.Something similar to brioches are Focaccia and Dutch Crunch Bread. The Nanterre can be enjoyed anytime, with jams for breakfast or even light curries for dinner. Bookmark its recipe for your reference:
- Yeast - 2 and 1/4 tsp
- Warm water - 2 tbsp
- Sugar - 1 tsp and 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Eggs - 5
- All purpose flour - 2 and 1/4 cup and some more for kneading
- Vital gluten - 1/2 cup
- Or Bread flour - 2 and 3/4 cups In place of APF and vital gluten
- Salt - 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Unsalted butter - 180 g cut into cubes and softened
- 1 whisked egg for brushing on top.
- Sprinkle yeast and 1 tsp sugar over warm water.
- Give it a stir.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs in a bwol.
- Add yeast mixture to the eggs.
- Add flour, vital gluten, 1 and 1/2 tsp sugar and salt in a bowl.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour and make a dough.
- The mixture will be very sticky.
- Transfer the mixture on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes
- Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and keep it in a warm place for 3 hours.
- Gently punch the dough and take it out on a lightly floured counter.
- Scatter 1/3 rd of the butter on the dough and knead till all the butter is incorporated.
- The dough will become very sticky at this time.
- Keep adding little flour
- Add the remaining 1/3 rd of butter and knead again.
- Add all the remaining butter and knead till nicely incorporated.
- Add little flour if required to handle the dough.
- Divide the dough into 10 equal parts.
- Make a ball of each part.
- Line a 9x5 inch bread loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Grease it with oil.
- Line 8 balls in the pans in pairs.
- The remaining 2 balls can be shaped as buns or a small loaf.
- Cover the pan with an aluminium foil and let it rest for 2 hours.
- Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Brush the loaf with egg.
- Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes.
- If the top is getting too much browned , cover it with a piece of aluminium foil.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a cooling rack.
- Cut into slices once cooled.
- This bread is best on the day it is baked.
- Store it in an airtight container for 2-3 days.