Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baking my bread

Now I can't think of anything better than waking up to the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven wafting through the house. It is my absolute favourite food and I love baking it.

The recipe I have been using for the past couple of years is a family recipe and is very highly regarded by family and friends who I bake it for, however I will not reveal the secrets BUT am happy to teach you if you ever want to come over.

The olive bread I make is not 'bready' like other olive breads but rather is crusty on the outside and then the inside reveals a very thick roll of the olive stuffing, which consists of pitted and chopped kalamata olives, a tonne of mint and brown onions. I saute the mint and onion first in some oil until so that the onions soften and start to brown, then I add the olives and saute some more until the olives are soft and the mixture is fragrant.

You can add garlic if you would like, and I know you are probably shocked I haven't as I love it so much, but I think it would overpower too much and take away from the flavours of the bread and olives.

The haloumi bread is quite different, it is more similar to a brioche and although the bread has no butter whatsoever in it, the natural oils in the cheese seep through the bread as it bakes and makes the inside very soft, moist and delectable.

So once the 'secret bread mixture' is made and kneaded like crazy for about 10 minutes you need to let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour. I put it in an oven which i I have turned on for about 30 secs then turned off.

This is the result. My mixture makes four loaves so I quarter the mixture and start to roll it out into a flat 'canvas'.

Now I am able to add whichever topping I want, and really you can add anything. I have only deviated from these two standard fillings a few times to make a sweeter cinnamon sugar and walnut bread, but as I know how much the olive and haloumi fillings are enjoyed, I generally just stick with what I know works................really not like me as I am always trying out new and interesting ingredients. I suppose because it is such a long process I just do what I know. If you have any requests however, I am more than happy to try them out for you and give you a taste test.

After I add the fillings and spread them across the whole dough, I try to roll without too much falling out the sides ( I really try to pack as much in as I can, it just makes for a nice bread). Once I have rolled it the bread needs to rise again for at least another half an hour. (I told you it was long).

NOW WE ARE READY TO BAKE..........another 40-50 minutes at 180 in a fan forced oven and it should be done. Now having said that it usually takes me anywhere between 50-70 minutes as I do not have a fan forced oven, it is a shitty 70's module that heats just from the bottom so to prevent the bread from burning I have to place a tray underneath and sometimes even turn the bread so it gets an even distribution of heat.

Well as long and strenuous the process is, I must say the result is definitely worth it. In my house the bread doesn't last more than a day as it is generally eaten straight away. My family start to nag when I take all the bread I've made to my friends.

If I could, I would bake bread every day, but first I need a larger kitchen and definitely a fan forced oven......any donors?

No comments: