Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whole Wheat Bran Bread

As you might imagine, I read a lot of recipes for breads of all kinds. I mean, a LOT of recipes for bread. I have lots of cookbooks (maybe a couple of hundred) and even more pdf's of even more. Maybe thousands. I'm not kidding. And I'm always looking for another angle on bread making. I mean, when you get right down to it, there must be an infinite number of variations on bread starting with the basic 4 (flour, water, salt, yeast) and on from there adding sweeteners, and oils and dried fruit and nuts and seeds and... You see, the list is long. So, it is always comforting to me, after reading a lot of complicated and involved recipes, to come back to something basic, but still delicious and, of course, healthy.

This recipe is a variation of one I have used for a long time. It uses regular bread flour (or AP flour) in combination with whole wheat and rye. In addition, there is a substantial amount of bran which adds flavor, texture and fiber. All good things. You really should try this bread, Not only does it taste great, but it also is good for you. Oh, and one more thing. It keeps for several days at room temperature and makes incredible toast. TRY IT! You won't regret it.

Here's What You'll Need:
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C whole rye flour
1 C bread flour (or AP flour)
3 Tbs. gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C wheat bran
1 Tbs. brown sugar or demerrara sugar
1 Tbs. dry yeast
1 3/4 C warm water

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Sift the flours with the gluten into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir to mix evenly. Add the bran, the sugar and the yeast and mix evenly.

2. Slowly add about 3/4 of the water while mixing. Continue add ing the water as needed, to form a shaggy dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes adding flour or water as necessary. The dough will remain a little sticky. Do not add too much flour to 'dry out the dough'. This will only make the dough too hard and dry in the end. Resist temptation.

3. Place the still sticky dough in a lightly oiled bowl, lightly covered with flour sprinkled over, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled. About 2 hours.

4. Form the dough into a tight boule or a loaf in a 23X13cm (9X5in) loaf pan. Cover and let the dough rise again until it rises over the edge of the pan (or becomes quite puffy as a boule).

5. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Bake the bread for about 45 minutes or until the crust is quite crisp, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

6. Cool on a rrack completely before slicing (if you can wait)!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chobz - Moroccan White Bread

No doubt you have all noticed that I have been baking a lot of bread from the Mediterranean lately. Specifically bread from the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically Greece. So I figured it's time to move on to a different location. But try as I might, I still find myself in this region, only I have moved to the other side completely. For quite a while now I have been following a food blogger from Morocco named Alia and  her blog Cooking with Alia. She also has a presence on YouTube. Not only are her recipes generally very tasty and attractive but her presentation is straightforward and a real delight.

Chobz is a simple bread, probably used for mopping up the wonderful sauces from Moroccan tagines and other delicacies. From start to finish it takes about 2 hours and includes only very basic ingredients - AP flour, yeast, only a little oil, salt and sugar. No eggs. The final product is thick and rich like a white sandwich bread, but with a pocket like a pita! After baking I had to immediately cut one open and stuff it with chicken. Yum!

Here's What You'll Need:
3 cups AP flour
1/2 Tbs dry yeast
1/2 Tbs sugar
a little warm water (to activate the yeast)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs sugar
enough water to make a soft barely sticky dough

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Mix the yeast and 1/2 Tbs sugar in a small bowl, then add a small amount of water and stir. Set aside for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

2. In a large bowl, place the flour, the salt and the rest of the sugar. Add the yeast mixture and the oil. Finally, add the water, a little at a time, mixing all the while until a shaggy dough forms.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.

3. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each into a round ball. Cover and let them rest for another 10 minutes.

4. Roll out each ball of dough into a round disc, about 12cm (5in) in diameter. Cover and let these discs rise, slowly, for around 1 1/2 hours, or even 2 hours. They will be puffy but not doubled.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). A hot oven. Place the chobz in the heated oven and bake for around 12-14 minutes. About halfway through turn the breads over. They will puff up, like a pita (but not as much as a pita) and get very brown. Cool on a rack and then stuff with your favorite fillings. Yummo!!