Sorry for the slow update in posts.
To tell you the truth, I have been kind of stuck lately. Firstly, it was hard to find the time to bake. I get off late from work and by the time I reach home, I'm so tired that all I want to do is hit the bed and relax. Secondly, I feel that my baking is stagnating. There were a few other things I tried to make in the first several weeks here that either ended up burnt at the sides, or tasting less than good. I know, it's supposed to be the oven right? It could even be the ingredients. I'm not the only one noticing that the same ingredients here - the flour, sugar, butter, and eggs - do not produce the same texture and taste as the baking back in Melbourne. But what's worse, I might be losing my touch...Now that is scary.
Thankfully, this weekend something happened and gave me hope. I baked my first white bread. It was not perfect...but it was the best new baking that I did in a while. It gave me hope that I am still able to bake something unfamiliar that did not end up disastrous.
I found Richard Bertinet's book Dough in the local bookstore and it inspired me to venture beyond my comfort zone. I've always played it safe by trying out recipes with baking powder, baking soda or eggs as the leavening agent (making pizza was once-off as it was a group occasion). Yeast is a very tricky thing. A change in humidity, a change in temperature, can make it act differently. I have also heard stories of bread making. If you're not careful, they'll turn out as hard as rocks.
One thing I learnt is to be prepared. What I like about the book is that Richard explains the ingredients, the tools and the way to properly treat the dough. He even included a demonstration CD. It was very satisfying to see the bread coming out of the oven fragrant, golden and singing :)
If you want to learn more about baking bread, I really recommend this book. Below is just an outline of the ingredients and the steps. White bread dough can be turned to a whole range of breads, one of which is a fougasse.
adapted from Dough
500g bread flour
10g yeast (instant dried/fresh)
parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 250C.
- Rub the yeast into the flour until they disappear.
- Add in the salt and mix well.
- Pour in the water and using a dough scraper, mix the ingredients until they form a sticky dough.
- Turn out onto the work surface and knead until the dough looks smooth and silky.
- Rest the dough in a bowl covered with a tea towel/clingwrap until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Carefully remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and cut into two rectangular shapes.
- Cut each rectangles into three more.
- Make a slit in the centre and two diagonal slits on each side.
- Be sure to pull the dough (gently, without deflating) and widen the slits to prevent them from closing while baking.
- Place on an oven tray, sprinkle with the grated cheese and slide them into the oven.
- Reduce the temperature to 230C and bake until golden for 10-12 minutes.