Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Category Archives: Recipes: Bread

Dark Rye 35% with Raisins and Walnuts

It’s been far too long since anyone here has heard of anything popping out of my oven. The friends I meet during the week don’t count since they happily keep mum with all the bread I’ve been chucking at them.

Truth is, I haven’t had much inspiration for the stove. Life has been dull and uneventful, and I feared my food will turn out far from pretty. But see, I need my bread every day, even if I have to resort to spree-ing at Paul (post on that soon) so that I may have breakfast the next few days. I haven’t been home long enough to bake my favourite carbohydrate, let alone harbour thoughts of it. But finally, inevitably, tasting some of the loaves that Paul had to offer was the very reason why I got fed up and threw together a pre-ferment for home-made bread the next day.

Meet my Dark Rye version 3.0.

The first post I did on my Dark Rye was a 55% loaf (percentage of dark rye flour to total bread flour), was more earthy, tacky, dense, and took 40 minutes in the oven. I decided to give it multiple facelifts, finally refining it into what I think is the best dark rye loaf anyone could ask for: light, more nutty than earthy, studded with crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins, a killer crust, and took only 25 minutes to bake.

Of course, here’s the mandatory crumb shot:

I usually bake more than my family can finish in a week and give a couple of loaves away. But this, I’m not sharing. Unless you make a pilgrimage to my place where I’ll be smearing toasty slices with salted butter and sipping a good ol’ cup of coffee.

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Wholemeal Sourdough

Wholemeal Sourdough

I have bad news.

While this piece of news may not exactly bother much of anyone, it bothers me on a very emotional, fundamental, devastating level.

Someone threw away my 8-month-old sourdough starter from the fridge.

This wasn’t so much a proper sourdough starter since I used the Old Dough method of acquiring sourdough – I add this piece of dough to every batch of sourdough I make, cut off a piece from the main bulk of dough, keep it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge until I make a new batch where the process repeats again.

It’s not quite as exciting as the conventional way of creating sourdough, since I hear that intimately naming a newborn sourdough starter is just one of the thousand of loony things bread fanatics do from time to time for their sourdough starters.

Wholemeal Sourdough

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Dark Rye Bread with Raisins

Dark Rye Bread with Raisins

My first introduction to rye breads came in the form of pumpernickel bread, those dark brown, unimaginably dense bricks (not loaves) of bread made with coarsely ground rye grains and rye berries. I hardly think of them as bread. In fact, I placed my mug of iced tea on a slice lying on the table thinking that it was a coaster, and it was only after my mom picked up another hefty slice to slap me away - I suffered oblong bruises – that I realised I just ruined her snack.

I didn’t take to pumpernickel very well. The musky earthiness, sweet-sour tang, grainy bits and coarse texture made me feel like I was gnawing on rabbit food. Suffice to say, dark rye breads didn’t get much of my attention as well.

And then I started getting my bread geek on, and all of a sudden, I saw how unearthly beautiful the dark rye fissures in a misty blanket of white looked on the loaves I saw occasionally in Cold Storage or Carrefour. I wanted them. I wanted to craft those crevices.

And then, I couldn’t find dark rye flour (because what demented person would want to bake artisanal breads at home? I mean, sheesh!).

Dark fissures.

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Homemade Naan

Homemade Naan

Following up on my impassioned spiel about fluffy Middle Eastern flatbread: No, I have not gotten the chance to revisit Sofra to bully and harangue the chefs into handing over a recipe, or better yet, their oven.

I did, however, throw together Pita dough the next day, you know, for Pita bread. And Pita bread isn’t Pita bread without its ability to turn into a handy semi-circular pocket with which to stuff all things chunky and drippy and tasty, like so.

No, this is not a mistake. And no, I did set out to make pita. I can differentiate Pita from Naan, thank you very much.

So what in Hummus’ name happened?

Well, they didn’t puff.

And so they went the way of all disobedient Pitas and became Naan.

Very, very yummy Naan at that.  Read more of this post

Olive and Rosemary Fougasse

Olive and Rosemary Fougasse

I don’t make fancy breads often, because bread in my home is mostly consumed for breakfast in manageable slices that fit into the toaster to crisp up.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fit this into the toaster, and just the mere thought of hacking up this fiery leaf- I mean loaf, of bread into misshapen pieces, slicing it open thinly just so I can spread or lay something over it would almost kill me. I’m not fond of making things that are too pretty to eat. Hence my lack of interest in cupcakes, food paint, fondant for cakes and food colouring.

But then this isn’t your typical breakfast bread, although please, feel free to do as you will with what you made fresh from your oven and with your two bare hands.

Yet when I saw how simple these were to make, and how they promised deliciously edible Ego Boost in the form of the heady fragrance of olives and perfume-y rosemary embedded in one of the most rustic and beautiful patterns one could carve out of dough, I just had to. And guess what? Everything - from the mixing to the heart-stoppingly frightening moment when it’s time to slide the fragile-looking doughs into the oven and to when they emerge crackly and golden – took less than 2 hours. I think I came out of the kitchen, a little dusted with flour and bearing what Richard Bertinet calls the Fougasse Grin, which essentially reads as ‘Look what I’ve made!’.

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Ciabatta!

 

Ciabatta

 

During Chinese New Year, I fed my cousin a couple of slices of toasted home-made bread with smoked ham, gouda cheese and a squirt of honey mustard. He complained that it was too holey and light – hardly filling at all. It was good, he said, but the lobangs were too big. And that’s all the feedback I got, not that I expected or wanted any.

You would probably infer then, that I don’t take feedback well.

If anything, I would seem to do the exact opposite with unrestrained vigor, refusing to consider kind advice, or perhaps intentionally mocking constructive criticism.

I see you frowning in confusion. Let’s clear up some things shall we?

1. I respond well to feedback.

2. While I absolutely adore feedback, I don’t care what you say, and I sure won’t give a flying rat’s ass if you tell me you don’t like your bread to resemble the remnants of a thoroughly pilfered, eroded excavation site.

You want holes the size of single-celled organisms? Grab the loaf of Gardenia from the supermarket next time.

Anyone who eats my bread will observe, with deep reverence, the First Commandment of Christine’s Home-made Bread:

Honour the lobangs of thy holey bread, for it is them which contain heavenly reservoirs of salted butter, melted cheese, golden olive oil and smoky ham, and you will receive the gift of gastronomic paradise.

End satire.

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You have no idea how thrilled I was when I sliced the loaves open. *Squeeee!!* Read more of this post

Oh yeasty goodness

Now look what I’ve done.

I started this on Saturday, and popped it in the oven today. Richard Bertinet wasn’t kidding when he said that longer fermentations and rising times produce a gorgeous rusty-red crust, full-bodied flavour and the slightest nutty sweetness. Oh my lordie. I could have an entire loaf as a snack, or perhaps all three. I hadn’t planned on taking a span of 3 days to bake this, but I’m glad I did. Now I only wished I had doubled the batch. Half of it’s gone already.

And of course my shaping leaves much to be desired. They’re suppose to look like baguettes but ended up mangled. Tsk.

That wasn’t all that I made with the dough though (say that ten times fast!). I could jump around the house in joy, bouncing off the walls like a chimpanzee on crack and red bull both at once because I thought three baguettes would satisfy the family enough, so I took the last ball of dough and made this: Read more of this post

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