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hitchmeer

Breads (and a tag on question about Raita)

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My friend and I have been getting together weekly to make different curry dishes and try out new recipes. Generally we will make chapatis along with the meal to have with apricot chutney. We are wanting to try other breads to go with our meals - any suggestions?

Also, I was making a cucumber raita to go with cumin scented chicken. I was wondering first of all how hot this is supposed to be - our recipe called for 1 fresh green chilli seeded and chopped (along with 1/2 a cucumber, 1 1/4 cups yogurt, 1/4 t salt and 1/4 tsp cumin)? The reason I asked was because in spite of the presence of the chilli, it didn't seem inordinately hot to me (I suppose the yogurt has a cooling effect). Second, is raita only a meat accompaniment? Thanks for any help!

Matthew

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Welcome to eGullet Matthew. :smile:

Glad to see that you have found the Indian forum.

ClickHERE to check out the recent thread on breads. If you have any further questions, please feel free to post on it. I am sure our members will answer as best as they can.

As for raita, I am posting below links to the various threads that you may find of interest. If you need any more recipes for breads or raitas, please feel free to email me at chef@suvir.com. I would be happy to send you more recipes.

Dahi (yogurt)

Cucumber Raita

Raita

Raita/Cold Soup

Raita - Is there a favorite kind?

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Suvir:

Thanks for all of the links. I'm anxious to look more closely at the messages. Looks like a lot of great recipes! A few years ago, I tried a Persian naan recipe from a Julia Childs cookbook on baking (the contibuting bakers were Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid). I remember liking this recipe. It was very basic and satisfying and topped with sesame seeds. In the book I've been using now there is a recipe for naan, but it looks considerably different from the type I made. The earlier recipe had you stretch the bread and pock it with your finger tips - it also contained no fat. In the new book, the naan appears puffier and calls for ghee and poppy seeds. The new book I am using is called " Best-ever Curry Cookbook" by Mridula Baljekar and my friend and I have been enjoying every recipe we've tried so far.

The other bread recipes in this book are for: red lentil pancakes, parathas, missi rotis, tandoori rotis, pooris, and bhaturas. I haven't tried any of these yet because I wanted to compare them to the recipes I found here. If you could send your recipes for these as well as your recommendations as to which ones you like best and what types of foods and condiments they best compliment, that would be great! In the meantime, I'll check out the threads of the other postings. What a great resource this site is.

Hungrily :laugh: ,

Matthew

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My bread recipes have been emailed your way. Hope you enjoy cooking with them and the other recipes you have.

Do keep us posted about your Indian break making adventure. :smile:

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Today I made a recipe called Oasis Naan. It called for a topping of scallions, caraway or cumin seeds (I used caraway) and salt. They came out quite nice. Not only did everyone at work like them (I work in a bakery in Minnesota - everyone is encouraged to try new breads and pastries), but they were also popular at a pre-Father's Day celebration at my parents' house. I'm anxious to try the recipes you sent me, Suvir. Thank you once more.

Matthew In Minnesota

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Today I made a recipe called Oasis Naan.  It called for a topping of scallions, caraway or cumin seeds (I used caraway) and salt.  They came out quite nice.  Not only did everyone at work like them (I work in a bakery in Minnesota - everyone is encouraged to try new breads and pastries), but they were also popular at a pre-Father's Day celebration at my parents' house.  I'm anxious to try the recipes you sent me, Suvir.  Thank you once more.

Matthew In Minnesota

Do you work in the kitchen or in the front?

I am assuming in the kitchen, since you baked Naans. What are some of the things you bake daily?

Nice to have you in our midst "Matthew In Minnesota".

Keep us posted about your Indian bread adventure.

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I work in the back bakery of Cafe Latte - a restaurant/ bakery/wine and pizza bar in St. Paul, Mn. I bake a variety of bread and scones everyday. Our daily loaves include, Pan de Casa - a light, yeasted sourdough, Whole Wheat, Baguettes, St. Paul Sourdough, Focaccia, 10-Grain, and Dakota Seed. In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! :smile:), as well as a savory bread (such as Canadian Harvest with wild rice, carrots and onions).

As far as scones go, I make traditional (a very basic, buttermilk scone - similar to a flaky biscuit), English Currant, some type of berry scone with streusel topping, and usually another berry type containing white or milk chocolate.

If anyone is ever visiting the Twin Cities area, please feel free to come visit me at the restaurant!

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Suvir:

At home, I'll be doing some Indian cooking with my friend this Sunday and I'll be trying a new Indian bread recipe from the selection that you sent to me. I'll let you know how both the bread and the entire meal come out.

Matthew in Minnesota

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Suvir:

At home, I'll be doing some Indian cooking with my friend this Sunday and I'll be trying a new Indian bread recipe from the selection that you sent to me.  I'll let you know how both the bread and the entire meal come out.

Matthew in Minnesota

Thanks for sharing with us a little about you and your work. :smile:

Looking forward to reading more from you across the site.

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Tonight I tried the recipe for Bhaturas that you sent me, Suvir. They were delicious. I made them to go with a recipe from the South India section of my cookbook. The recipe was simply called "Chilli Meat with Curry Leaves" and was from the state of Andhra Pradesh. We made it with beef, hot curry paste, coconut milk, onions and garlic among other ingredients. The recipe called for fresh curry leaves, but we only had dried. The book informed us that fresh is always preferable with curry leaves. The meal was amazing despite the dried leaves. My question: what difference would I have tasted had I been able to get the fresh curry leaves?

Along with this and the bhaturas, we made a fruit raita with bananas, grapes, walnuts and cumin. I was sceptical about this as I didn't know how the taste combination would be. IT WAS AMAZING!!! My stomach is still very happy after this meal. Are there other fruits used in a fruit raita?

Matthew in Minnesota

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I've been reading this thread and the earlier Indian bread threads highlighted and was rather disappointed to find that its got such a strong North Indian focus. I suppose that's inevitable since most people posting here seem to be from outside India and Indian food outside India does tend to be dominated by North Indian food.

Whatever the reason it needs correcting, not just because there are many breads from other parts of the country, but also because they are so delicious. Many of the breads, particularly those from Western India are really delicious and healthy multigrain breads, while for lightness and delicacy _nothing_ can compare to pathiri, rice flour flatbread from the Kerala Muslim community. Compared to these many North Indian breads can seem pretty greasy and leaden (yes, I'm not a great fan of North Indian things - how did you guess...).

Someone excluded dosas, which are well known, which I guess means the thread is focussing on flatbreads made from dough rather than batter. So lets exclude all products based on fermented rice flour batter like dosas, iddlies, addai, appams, panniyaram, pesarattu, Mangalorean neer dosa and Goan sannas. Lets also stick to griddle or tandoor baked breads which means excluding steamed breads like Kerala puttu or iddiyappams (string hoppers).

That would still leave you with:

- pathiri - very fine and delicate white chappati like breads made from rice flour. They're a speciality of the Moplahs - Kerala Muslim community and according to one of my Malayali aunts, impossible to make by anyone other than a Mplah woman.

- parotta - as the name suggests, this is sort of the Kerala version of parathas, but the way its made it turns out all flaky in a way very different from parathas. (They are also called Ceylon parathas). To get an idea of what they look like check this link:

http://www.kairalee.com/recipes/vegetarian/parotta.htm

- vade - a Konkani (Western Indian) dish that looks like thick puris, but are much tastier and healthier since they are made from a rice and lentil dough. Not to be confused with wadas, which are fried lentil flour cakes, often, but not always, doughnut shaped.

- rotlis - the Gujarati version of chapattis, but much thinner and finer due to the liberal use of ghee while making them. Rotlis are made from wheat flour, but there are variations on this like Parsi chokha ni rotli made from rice flour. Parsis have some breads of their own like papeta-na-paratha which is like alu-parathas.

- thalipith - this is a really outstanding Maharashtrian multigrain bread. Its made from the flour of at least four grains - wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, plus chickpea flour as well (in Bombay you can buy the flours readymixed) which are all kneaded with onions, chillies, coriander leaves and ghee to a thick dough and then baked on a griddle. Its fantastic especially when eaten with chickpea flour curry (besan-ka-pitla). There's also an interesting upvas or 'fasting' version meant to be eaten during religious festivals when certain cereals aren't supposed to be eaten so you use substitutes like tapioca.

If people are interested I could post recipes for these, though not my own. I find these breads - like all breads I guess - really difficult to make. The simplicity of the ingredients means that the real secret is in the technique - the lightness of touch with which the dough is kneaded and rollod out, the speed of cooking. Some of them, I think, can only really be made well in large quantities which is why they are best eaten in restaurants or sometimes at weddings where they made by professional caterers. Still, some like thalipith are so good that they are certainly worth trying,

Vikram

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Vikram:

Thanks for the post! I'm anxious to try some of these breads as well. My own interest in Indian cuisine and in particular Indian breads is fairly new, so I'm always interested in learning new things and trying new recipes. If you have any, I'd love to try them.

Matt

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Vikram,

Thanks for the most wonderful post. Please share the recipes if you can. Many of us here will be most thankful.

We should do a thread on Southern Indian Breads (excluding flatbreads) so we can include all those great breads that we have had to leave out here. Would you start one please? :smile:

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- thalipith - this is a really outstanding Maharashtrian multigrain bread. Its made from the flour of at least four grains - wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, plus chickpea flour as well (in Bombay you can buy the flours readymixed) which are all kneaded with onions, chillies, coriander leaves and ghee to a thick dough and then baked on a griddle. Its fantastic especially when eaten with chickpea flour curry (besan-ka-pitla). There's also an interesting upvas or 'fasting' version meant to be eaten during religious festivals when certain cereals aren't supposed to be eaten so you use substitutes like tapioca.

Vikram,

I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in their homes. As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days. The idea being you give up what you are used to.

I was amazed when I saw Dragon Fruit in Singapore. I took some back to India. Panditji our chef, was not impressed, he had it growing wild in his part of UP (Uttar Pradesh) and they would use the tiny black seeds to make a flour that would be used to make breads for upvas/vrats.

What versions of these breads are you familiar with? Did you grow up eating some that you really loved?

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Vikram: Very good overview of West and South - I agree that the discussion here tends to be North India centric. As you correctly point out, many of the breads are very difficult to find in restaurants here in the US, one does find reference made to them at homes of folks from South and West here in US.


anil

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I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in  their homes.  As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days.  The idea being you give up what you are used to.

So it's not a foodless, drinkless fast like Yom Kippur, more like Lent for Catholics?


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE (Suvir Saran @ Jun 16 2003, 08:39 AM)

I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in  their homes.  As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days.  The idea being you give up what you are used to. 

So it's not a foodless, drinkless fast like Yom Kippur, more like Lent for Catholics?

No, as Suvir says, most Indian fasts (barring some of the extreme Jain fasts) are based on the principle of giving up a few things, which has lead to a great deal of ingenuity with the ingredients one can use.

Looking at more than just fasts, one could almost argue that one of the most interesting features of Indian cooking is the way the many religious taboos have spurred creativity in the choice and use of ingredients. (Perhaps in the same way as Jewish cooking?)

So Jain food could easily sound like the most bleak and austere cuisine: no meats obviously, but also no root vegetables (might kill animals while digging them up), no leafy vegetables in the monsoons (that's then there are animals likely to be living in them), no food kept overnight (since it becomes too 'alive') which rules out any long fermented products and so on.

Yet Jain food is wonderful, delicious and inventive (and also quite healthy). The best gatte-ke-saag, curried chickpea dumplings, I have ever eaten comes from a Jain household I know and there are hundreds of other dishes like that. You will always eat very well in a Jain household.

(The other interesting aspect of such proscriptions is that Jain food is acceptable to other communities which also follow dietary restrictions, but almost never as severe as the Jains. So in Antwerp where Gujarati Jains and Orthodox Jews work side by side in the diamond business, the Jews often are quite happy to eat with the Jains at weddings and functions though, of course, not vice versa [but the Jews are apparently hiring Jain caterers for their events].

(Or there's now a sizeable community of Israeli students who come backpacking in India after their military service and apparently one of the attractions is that for the observant, food is less of a problem that elsewhere since Indian vegetarian food qualifies as kosher).

But coming back to the fasting questions, there are many other interesting dishes that are cooked for fasts or occasions when special diets are required. Some of these might be hard to replicate elsewhere - I don't exactly imagine that its easy to find raw jackfruit which is cooked like meat to such good effect its known as tree-goat - but others like the Maharashtrian upvas ones which use tapioca might be. I can see these being of value to people who suffer from gluten allergies.

Perhaps we should start a separate thread on fasting foods?

Vikram

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What versions of these breads are you familiar with? Did you grow up eating some that you really loved?

Most of these breads are fairly readily available in Bombay which is the other reason why I don't make them myself (apart from the fact, as I said earlier, that they aren't that easy to make). Many of the griddle breads really depend on someone making them almost directly in front of you, so I don't see them as being easy to make at home without a fulltime cook in the kitchen or in a regular bakery.

Of the ones I've listed, thalipith I eat all the time, especially with the besan ka pitla - chickpea flour curry - at Swati Snacks, the best place in Bombay for traditional vegetarian dishes of this kind. Vade is a must everytime I'm eating in a Konkani restaurant which serves the coastal seafood of this region. Rotlis are harder to get and usually require my gearing myself to pay one of my very infrequent visits to some of my Guajrati relatives over here.

Pathiri is impossible to get outside Kerala, and not that easy to find there either. You have to go to North Kerala to cities like Calicut which is the Moplah heartland. I last ate them in Palghat at the house of an aunt who hires a Moplah girl to help her in the kitchen. Parotta luckily is easier to find - its one dish that Malayalis have taken on their migration and if you ask around and find a restaurant run by Malayalis you'll find they sometimes make it for themselves.

One other type of bread I forgot to mention, is so unusual I have never even seen a recipe for it. In my family its called Neypattal and is made from a stiff rice flour dough that is made into a ball and then pinched in five corners to form a star shape and deepfried. Very delicious and looks great.

I realised there were several sweet flatbreads I forgot - the whole category of breads stuffed with some variation on sweetened chickpea flour called puran-poli. There are actually quite wide variations within this - I can think of at least four: a thick North Indian style paratha with sweet chickpea flour filling, the even thicker - almost an inch - cakelike version made by the Parsis, the small, very plump versions bursting with hot ghee made by the Gujaratis and my favourite, the large, thin, very dry puran-polis made by Maharashtrians that are eaten dipped in milk.

I'll try and post recipes for the breads I've mentioned, but as I said, in most cases I haven't tried them. The easiest will probably be thalipith, and here's a recipe from bawarchi.com which is generally quite reliable.

http://www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib1418.html

(Note on ingredients: I guess millet and sorghum could be used for the bajra and jowar flours, or flour from any similar grains. Besan is chickpea flour. Dhania-jeera is a coriander-cumin spice blend)

Vikram

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Vikram, many thanks for another wonderful post.

Do you live in Bombay?

Rotlis used to be one of my favorite breads whilst living in Bombay. I would go to a friends house and the women chefs in the kitchen would prepare several of them at one time, using different burners. And all of us, would have our katoris (bowls) of Amras (mango juice, but think very smooth ad very pure and VERY flavorful) and dip the rotlis into them and enjoy the alfonso ras. I had never thought of doing something like this till I discovered the wonders of Surati foods.

Gujarati foods change from region to region. India has a way of making most any search of it's makeup and what makes it tick become a task. One could not say one has enjoyed Gujarati food after a meal or two in restaurants. The best cooks, some of the best foods, some of the more uncommon foods are generally prepared in homes and areas where restaurants are not the desired place to eat. The sampling of Gujarati food one can find in restaurants in the US, is very humble and also close to mediocre if one has other options available.

Jains are some of the best homes one could go to for enjoying a vegetarian meal that is at once complex and also very simple. Simple in ingredients, the food is rich and varied in taste, textures and spicing.

Gatte Kee Sabzee is a dish most famous in Rajasthan. The Jains of Rajasthan would prepare it well, but those from Madhya Pradesh or UP or Gujarat hardly render it nicely. Gattas can be made well and can be prepared by a knowing chef to become sensational. I have only eaten the latter two times in my life. Once in Jaipur and the other preparation has been from our very own Panditji. The secret to gattas (chickpea flour cakes/dumplings) is in the beating of the batter and how much liquid to add. I must say I make very good gattas, but if I was to sample mine opposite those I ate in Jaipur and the ones Panditji makes at home, mine are good, but nothing more. My sauce comes out amazingly well (when making geela/wet version), but it is the gatta itself that takes years of training and also knowing every subtlety that one ought to know when making them. I am thrilled that you mentioned Gattas. They are one of my favorite dishes.

When I was a little boy living in Nagpur (Maharashtra), we discovered Puran Poli. I had an instant love for this sweet bread. Today, I am at a loss for why I enjoyed it, my palate has changed, or perhaps, what I ate as a child was so good, that what I eat prepared today, seems to pale in comparison. The realist in me wishes to believe that it is my palate that has changed. Not that all Puran Polis that I am eating are bad. I remember our neighbor would make very large family style Poli that was cut into portions for all of us, and still a decent amount would be left. It was amazing how flaky and yet nicely stuffed her Poli would be. I remember that no festival of Haldi KumKum would be over without us having this and Kheer.

Vikram, you have me all home sick now.:sad: You have brought back vivid and flavorful memories of India and its rich culinary traditions. Thanks! :smile:

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Vikram, many thanks for another wonderful post.

Do you live in Bombay?

Rotlis used to be one of my favorite breads whilst living in Bombay. I would go to a friends house and the women chefs in the kitchen would prepare several of them at one time, using different burners. And all of us, would have our katoris (bowls) of Amras (mango juice, but think very smooth ad very pure and VERY flavorful) and dip the rotlis into them and enjoy the alfonso ras. I had never thought of doing something like this till I discovered the wonders of Surati foods.

Yes live in Bombay, but grew up both here and in Madras and studied in Calcutta, so lucky enough to get exposure to lots of good and different cooking (I'm half Gujarati and half Malayali which helps a bit more).

You should have been in Bombay this summer since for the first time in years it didn't rain earlier on and spoil the Alphonso crop. The market was full of the most amazing mangoes at affordable rates - well, relatively affordable, since it was still around Rs400/- for two dozen, but really good ones.

I still think Alphonsos are too good to be made into aamras, or eaten any other way really, other than just chilled, but this year I was just willing to consider it!

Vikram

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Vikram.. STOP IT!! You are making all of us TERRIBLY homesick with all your nice posts..

actually.. do go on ...

I have a wonderful recipe for a cold alphonso mango soup.. if you like, I can send it your way!


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Vikram: ...So in Antwerp where Gujarati Jains and Orthodox Jews work side by side in the diamond business, the Jews often are quite happy to eat with the Jains at weddings and functions though, of course, not vice versa [but the Jews are apparently hiring Jain caterers for their events

Really !! I was in Antwerp last month - Would've loved to have tried a kosker Indian restaurant (vege.) there - Here in NYC, there is a kosher restaurant run by Gujurati family called Dimple, which I have come to like, because it serves things not found in many Indian restaurants in the city.

Maybe you should add some good restaurants in Mumbai in the restaurant list pinned on top of this sub-forum :biggrin:


anil

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In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! )

This sounds amazing Mathew. Is there any way we can get a recipe of sorts???? I would love to try it at home sometime.

FM


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! )

This sounds amazing Mathew. Is there any way we can get a recipe of sorts???? I would love to try it at home sometime.

FM

Foodman:

I only have the recipe in bulk but will try and pare it down for you in my smaller mixer at work. We may actually have a home version of the recipes in our files. I'll look tomorrow. E'mail me and keep bugging me about it to remind me. :smile:

Matt

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      Directions for plain naan:
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into an oval shape (about 8 inches). Using your hands, pull at both ends of the oval to stretch it a little. Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each oval with clarified butter.

      Place the naans on the baking sheet bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Peshawari Naan
      In this delightfully sinful recipe, the naan dough is stuffed with dried nuts and raisins and baked. Serve this warm right out of the oven for the best taste.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 1 tablespoon cashews (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon almonds (crushed)
      • 1+1 tablespoons pistachios (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon raisins
      • 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, minced
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 tablespoon Milk Mawa Powder (Dried whole milk powder)

      • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      Prepare the Naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Set aside 1 tablespoon of pistachios and the raisins. In a mixing bowl combine all the other filling ingredients. Add a few tablespoons of water to bind them together to form a lumpy consistency.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Garnish with the reserved pistachios and raisins.

      Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each naan with clarified butter. Place the naans on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.

      Onion Kulcha
      We present this recipe by popular demand. Here the naan is stuffed with a spiced onion mix and baked to perfection.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 2 small red onions, finely chopped
      • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
      • 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala (www.namaste.com)
      • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
      • Salt to taste
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • 2 teaspoons cilantro, minced for garnish
      • small boiled potato, grated (optional)
      Prepare the naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

      First, using the palms of your hands, squeeze out all the water from the chopped onions. If the onions still appear to be watery, add a small boiled grated potato to your filling. This will prevent the filling from spilling out of the kulcha.
      In a mixing bowl combine all the filling to form a lumpy consistency.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Dip your fingers in water and moisten the surface of the kulcha very lightly. Sprinkle with a few minced cilantro leaves. Continue until you have made 8 kulchas.

      Place the kulchas on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.


      Ande Ka Paratha
      This is a unique addition to your recipe collection. A mild and flaky bread, it is a small kid’s favorite at our home.
      Makes 8 parathas
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2+2 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • Water as needed
      • 8 eggs
      In a bowl combine the flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky or else it will not roll out well.


      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Now fold the dough over itself.

      Take the folded dough and roll it around itself into a spiral.

      Tuck the end under.

      Do this for all eight dough balls. (This folding and rolling will make the paratha very flaky.)

      Now flatten the spiral and roll again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and remove from heat. Put the paratha aside on a warm plate.

      Grease the same griddle a bit and break an egg on it. Cook the egg sunny side up. Place the cooked side of the paratha on the egg. Press down gently to break the yolk. Let it cook for a minute. Brush the top of the paratha with butter, flip carefully and cook for another minute or two until the paratha is no longer raw.


      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.
      Serve hot.

      Indian Bread Stuffed With Spicy Potatoes (Aloo Ka Paratha)
      This filled paratha is a very popular North Indian bread, served traditionally with homemade white butter and Indian pickles of your choice.
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 4 tablespoons semolina
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Water as needed
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled
      • 2 Serrano green chilies, seeded and finely minced
      • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
      • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
      • 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
      • 4 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • A few tablespoons flour for dusting
      In a bowl combine the wheat flour, semolina flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky, or else it will not roll out well.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover for about 15 minutes. Drain.



      Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them well with a fork. Add the green chilies, cilantro, ginger root, and chaat masala and mix well. Set this filling aside to cool.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Lightly brush the surface with the clarified butter. Add a tablespoon of the potato filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.



      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes.

      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.

      Sheermal
      A sweet bread, it is one of the few Indian breads that uses yeast. Keep the dough in a warm place to ensure that it rises. You can increase the amount of sugar if you like a sweeter taste.

      • 1 packet dry yeast
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • ¼ cup water
      • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
      • ¼ teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 eggs (separate 1 egg and set the yolk aside) beat the whole egg and the white together
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Extra flour for dusting
      • Pitted cherries/raisins for garnish
      Mix yeast with the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Set aside until frothy, about 5 - 10 minutes.
      Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the clarified butter, egg and yeast mixture. Knead until a smooth dough is formed. (You may need more warm water.) Set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 6 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc. Continue until you have made 6 discs.
      Beat the reserved egg yolk and brush a little on each sheermal. Place a few cherries on the sheermal for garnish. Place the discs on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

      Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

      Tandoori Roti
      We wanted to show how the tandoor is used to prepare breads. These pictures are of a special roti or bread, called Tandoori Roti, being prepared in the hot tandoor or clay oven.
      The basic recipe entails preparing a dough of whole-wheat flour. (See the paratha dough prepared earlier.) The flattened rolled out discs are then cooked in the tandoor until the dark spots begin appearing on the surface of the bread.




      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By rajsuman
      Inspired by a similar thread under 'General Food Topics', I wanted to know how many Indian cookbooks we collectively own on this forum. I have 43 right now, but I'm sure more will turn up from under the bed etc. I'm particularly curious about your collection Vikram, because you seem to own every Indian cookbook under the sun. Here's a picture of my very modest collection (a few on the left haven't come in the shot)

      This is in the kitchen, although there are not that many Indian books here ('Indian Everyday' is from the library) except the small booklets at the end.

    • By eGCI Team
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      Sourdough Bread
      by Jack Lang (jackal10)
      Acknowledgements
      Dan Lepard, for inspiration and and contribution.
      Charles Lang, whose hands are in the photographs.
      Brendel Lang for the painting.
      The Members of the eGCI team for considerable labour and expertise.
      Samuel Lloyd Kinsey (slkinsey) my fellow instructor.
      Jill Grey, my partner, for putting up with the mess.
      Introduction

      The object of this lesson is to teach you to bake better bread— bread that will be the envy of your non-baking friends—bread so good that people will wonder where it came from!
      The recipe is archived here.
      Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff; not some machine-made pap. You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread. Once you have mastered basic white bread, you (or we) can go on to whatever variations you like or request. This is daily bread, fragrant with tastes of the yeast and the grain, and with a crisp crackling crust. Perfect on its own, or with good butter, or jam, or cheese and maybe a ripe tomato. It keeps (in a paper bag, not in the fridge) for close to a week, although you may need to toast it toward the end of the week. Toasted it makes magnificent bruschetta. You can bake weekly, or less often as the bread freezes well.
      This recipe and technique may seem straightforward, but it contains the results of years of experimentation and optimisation. We’ll make plain, white bread. Once you have mastered that, you can go on to fancier loaves. However (unless you really need the bran) you will come back to this basic bread just because it is so good and so pure.
      Bread comes in many shapes.

      English bread shapes

      European bread shapes
      This lesson will teach the basic French boule or flattened ball shape. We will also look at baguettes. But you can make any shape you fancy. The same dough works well in a tin, too.
      You can find more technical details regarding the history of sourdough bread and the composition of the starter by clicking this link. Reading this background history and science is not essential, but very helpful. It will give some insight into why as well as the how.
      Where to get your starter
      You basically have three options –
      1. Buy a starter off the web or from a local artisanal bakery. One place is here.
      2. Order the eGullet starter.
      You can obtain the special egullet starter by sending a PM to jackal10 with your snail-mail address. The starter will be sent out free, although the cost of the starter and postage is about $10. Please donate at least that much to your favourite charity, and we would appreciate it if you could include the name of the charity and the amount in your PM.
      Your egullet starter was collected originally in the vineyards of California, but has travelled extensively since. It produces a light, mild bread. When it arrives, it will look like raw dough in a plastic bag

      How your starter will look when you unpack it.
      You can leave it in the fridge until you are ready, or better, turn it into your own starter. To do this, add one cup of flour and 1 cup of water and mix to a smooth batter. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. Put the batter into a basin, cover and leave in a warm (80-85F/27-29C) place for 4-8 hours, or until you see bubbles on the surface. Ideally refresh it a couple of times, and you are ready. You can store the starter in a jar in the fridge.
      3. Make your own.
      You can make your own starter and harvest the local wild yeasts with some patience. The key is the remarkable stability of the yeast-lacto bacillus pairing. If you keep almost any fermentable mixture of flour and water at about the right temperature, and when it begins to bubble, feed (refresh) it regularly, you will get the right bugs.
      Some people add grapes with bloom on them (yeasts live on the surface), rye (high in enzymes), or other things, but that is mostly superstition.
      How to roll your own starter
      a) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to a smooth batter.
      b) Cover and leave in a warm (85F/29C) place until it starts to bubble (12 hours or so but it can take several days). Don’t worry about off smells or colours at this stage. Skim any obvious muck.
      c) Refresh it by adding another ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and stir. If the volume gets too much for your container, throw some away. Cover the rest and put it back into a warm place.
      d) Repeat the last step for 4 times at 8-12 hour intervals. The starter should be active, and smell wholesome.
      Starters can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for months. They may separate into two layers, but just stir them together before use. They will, of course, keep best if used and refreshed regularly. If the starter seems sluggish, refresh it a couple of times (step c above) before use.
      Starter doesn’t freeze well, but can be dried for a reserve supply. If you need to ship it, make some into a lasagna sheet, or stiff dough.
      For best results always use the same flour, so the bugs can get used to it. Some people keep separate starters for white, rye and for wholemeal (whole wheat). I use white unbleached flour, which has added Vitamin C as an improver. As mentioned above, if your flour does not already have Vitamin C in it, you can add 1/2tsp Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) but it is not critical.
      Recovering a sick starter
      If your starter smells off (cheesy or of peardrops), or has gone sluggish you can recover it by following the procedure for a new starter above, but inoculate the initial flour and water mix with a tablespoon or two of the old starter.
      Practical Section
      A typical bread-making timetable is
      Day 1:
      09:00: Refresh starter
      - Starter ferments -
      13:00: Make dough
      13:15: Dough kneaded (by hand)
      -Amylisation-
      13:45: Add Salt
      14:00 Finished dough
      - Bulk fermentation-
      16:00: Shape
      -Retard overnight –
      Day 2
      Pre-heat oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
      Ingredients for 1 loaf or four baguettes.
      To refresh the starter:
      1 c sourdough starter
      1 c Strong white bread flour
      1 c water
      For the dough:
      1 c refreshed sourdough starter
      3 c Strong white bread flour.
      1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
      2 tsp salt
      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
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