Friday, 16 October 2009

World Bread Day 2009: American Sandwich Bread

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17)It's World Bread Day! The previous year's blog event for this special day always passed me by. Bread making wasn't really in my arsenal of kitchen skills. But now that I've done bread making more often than I used to, I thought taking part in this once-a-year event would be the best thing. Zorra has been wonderfully hosting this event for the past three years.

One thing that helped me recently is my Panasonic bread maker. It's more than a year old actually but I've only used it several times. We're not too keen with the quality of the baked bread it churns out. The bread itself (or the middle) comes out too moist or wet. We've tried making many different kinds of bread in it (using the recipe book that it comes with) but they all come out the same. I tried reducing the liquid but the bread was worse. So nowadays I just use it as a bread kneader and first riser which it does beautifully. My bread making efforts are definitely reduced and there is less mess all around.

Okay this is not the first ever bread that I did but I was hoping to perfect this bread to use as a staple in our pantry. Perfect as in looking, smelling, and tasting like ones we buy from shops. My benchmark actually is Warburton Toastie which my family loves and in our opinion is the best commercial sandwich bread around. The Best Recipe Cookbook (my constant guide mowadays) provided the recipe that I adapted.

How did it go? It was good although my youngest and my husband was put off by the yeasty smell. So I guess next time I will reduce the yeast considerably. Mind you, I used active dry yeast successfully in the bread maker which in all its instructions always say to use instant dry yeast. But active dry yeast is just fine. All you have to do is 'wake it up' or activate it by dissolving in warm liquid and letting stand for a few minutes. I find it's helpful as well in knowing if your yeast is still good when you see (or not see) it foaming. With the instant dry yeast you won't know until after the first rising and by then all that dough is wasted.

American Sandwich Bread

520 g  bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter - melted
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast or active yeast
  1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix the water, milk, butter, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve yeast and sugar. If using active dry yeast, let stand for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to foam.
  3. Hand method: Mix yeast mixture with the flour until it comes together enough to handle. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny. Shape into a ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing it around to coat it lightly with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about 2 hours).
  4. Bread machine method: Pour the yeast mixture in the bread machine then pour the flour and salt mixture on top. Set machine to dough setting and turn on. This will take about 2 hours to complete the kneading and rising.
  5. Once the first rising is done, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Shape into a log and place in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
  6. Bake in a 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
  7. Remove from pan and tap bottom of bread. If it sounds hollow the bread is ready, if not return to pan and oven for another 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Note: If you want a crispy crust, put another baking pan below the loaf pan in the oven. Fill this with about 1-2 cups of boiling water. This will provide moisture throughout the baking of the bread making the crust crispy.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

There Are Phases I Remember

My family knows that I operate in phases. Even in food and cooking, they certainly remember those weeks when all I try to bake and think about are egg tarts or any baked custard. Then came the phase of anything muffins or cupcakes. Another time of all pies. It is the same with my life in general. I have these passing phases of obsession. Besides the constant passion in reading, there was a period not long ago that I was interested in anything "New Age". Consequently I was into meditation, alternative medicine, and the likes. I even attended some Tibetan meditation class. Most of the things I learned during this time I retained though sadly I do not meditate as regularly as before.

As expected from me, I was very interested in the accessories that came with the Buddhist meditation. You know things like round kapok pillows, bells, incense, burners, etc. One thing that caught my attention that I haven't used one yet is what they call the singing bowls. The sound from the singing bowls works in much the same way that chanting a certain word or phrase can enhance a person's meditation or put him in an altered state of mind. These were traditionally used by Tibetan monks and ordinary people in their meditation. There are currently Tibetan Singing Bowls that are available in the internet. Among the newer types of singing bowls are the Crystal Singing Bowls which, being made of crystal, creates a purer and clearer tone and a sound of higher volume that traditional singing bowls. Whichever one you choose they certainly look good and are hopefully effective in healing and meditation. I hope I'd be able to sample one of these soon and see what its effects on me.