Only he can understand the joy of baking a bread, who has got his hands dirty in the bread dough!
Bread making is therapeutic. From the day MIL and I baked our first bread, each bread that turns out great gives us a feel good factor which is difficult to understand, unless you get your hands dirty!
Let me make an honest confession. Till now it was always my MIL who was kneading the dough. In her words, kneading dough is an activity she loves soooo much that she can even wake up at 3am and knead a dough! Now, can there be a better thing than this for a lazy daughter in law like me? Yes, I am counting my blessings!
However, I wanted to do everything by myself this time around. We hadn't baked the sandwich bread so far. Mr. Hubby insisted we bake our own sandwich bread, since commercially available breads have chemicals. So, I got on to the task.
Since I had to use the bread to prepare grilled sandwiches, I did keep a good share of all purpose flour, in addition to my favourite wholewheat chakki wala Punjabi Atta from Sion. The bread came out so well that I was beaming with pride!
Try it out and I am sure you too will stop buying bread from outside.
Wholewheat flour/Atta - 1 Cup
All purpose flour/Maida - 1 1/2 Cup
Instant dry yeast - 1 tbsp
Grain Sugar - 2 tbsp
Warm Milk - 1 Cup
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Water - 3-4 tbsp
Ghee/Butter - 1 tbsp for dough + 1 tbsp for greasing tin and brushing the bread
1. In a clean bowl, take the sugar and instant dry yeast. Mix well.
2. Add 2-3 tbsp warm water. Mix well. Cover with a plate and keep aside undisturbed for 10 minutes.
3. After 10 minutes, you will see that the yeast has risen beautifully.
4. In a bowl/Paraat take the wholewheat flour, all purpose flour and salt. Mix well while it is still dry.
5. Add the activated yeast mixture and knead well to form a smooth dough. After few minutes of kneading the dough will begin to stick to your hands but do not fret and continue kneading. The dough will automatically leave your hands. However, in total you will have to knead for a good 5-7 minutes to get a good dough. Also, stretch and knead the dough for good results.
6. Add 1 tbsp ghee/soft butter to the dough and knead well to form a soft dough.
7. Shape the dough into a smooth ball with all the folds tucked below.
8. Transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with a dry cloth and keep for proving in a warm place (I use my switched off microwave oven) for about an hour or till the dough doubles.
This is how the dough looked after an hour.
9. Punch the dough in the middle to knock off the air.
10. Dust some plain flour on a clean kitchen platform/chopping board (I used the same Paraat I had used to knead the dough). Start kneading the dough by stretching and folding.
11. After 2 minutes of kneading, spread the dough in an oval shape.
12. From one end, start rolling the dough, with soft hands but give a tight fold so as to avoid gaps in the bread.
13. Pinch and seal the last fold and seal the sides as well.
14. Transfer to a 8" greased loaf tin. Spread the dough to cover the corners and lightly even the surface.
15. Cover with a dry cloth and keep at a warm place for proving for 30-40 minutes.
This is how the dough looked after 2nd proving.
16. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 200 degree centigrade for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat and bake a 180 degree centigrade for 20 minutes.
17. Brush some ghee/butter on the bread as soon as it is out of the oven. Cool for few minutes and demould. Cool on a wire rack to avoid perspiration at the base. Once the bread is cooled, cut into slices and enjoy as a sandwich or just with a slice of butter.
1. As soon as you are done with the yeast, wrap the packet really tight and store in refrigerator.
2. Do not disturb the yeast bowl when kept for activation.
3. Keep the warm milk handy before you start kneading the bread. I once got the milk few minutes late and my bread did not take the wait very well.
4. If you don't find a warm place to prove the bread, your oven is your saviour. No matter how the weather is, I always keep the dough bowl for proving in the empty oven (switched off, obviously!). It gives a wonderful rise plus saves accidental disturbance to the bread, in case there is space constraint or you have children at home.
5. Cool the bread completely before you cut the slices. You will get much neat slices. If you try to cut slices while the bread is still warm, there will be a lot many crumbles. If you notice my pics, you will notice few crumbles. This is because my overenthusiastic MIL couldn't resist the aroma of the bread and enjoyed a slice before the bread could cool completely.
6. The water used to activate the yeast should neither be too hot nor too cold else the yeast won't rise. It should just be warm enough so that your fingers can tolerate the warmth.
7. Always use good quality yeast.
8. Never ever leave the bread in the loaf tin for cooling else the bread will have perspiration at the base. Always cool on a wire rack.