Bread, beautiful, home made fresh bread; how I love it! There’s something so comforting in baking one’s own bread. Having said that, I haven’t baked bread for a while now. The yeast has been in and out of the kitchen cupboard all too often, but hasn’t gone into anything, for quite some time.
When Jamie announced that as her birthday was nearly here, she wanted everyone to bring some bread for her ( she is hosting Bread Baking Day #26, an event, originally started by Zorra), I was elated. Jamie is a dear fellow blogger, and at last, here was something to motivate me to start baking bread again. But, I again got caught up with life and almost forgot about it. Her birthday came and went; I wished her , but there was no bread. But wait! The event was on till the 1st of February, so I might just be able to do something after all. Today, Dinesh dropped Rengoni and Agastya off at school, and even after all my chores, I was left with a few unexpected hours to do something, namely to ”bake bread”.
And bake bread, I did! The yeast was summoned again, this time, with a clear purpose in mind. Randomly, I took out the cranberries, and some saffron, and a handful of raisins, and I was all set.The dough was kneaded, left to rise, knocked back, left to rise again, and, finally, baked. This produced a lovely, slightly rich ( her birthday, wasn’t it?), fruity saffron bread. And I was once again lured by the aromas wafting through the oven as the bread baked, and left realising as to how much I had missed all this.
2 and 1/4 C of warm milk
2 tsp of fast action dried yeast
3/4 tsp saffron strands
2 tblsp of softened butter
3 and 1/2 C + 1/2 C+ extra for dusting, of whole wheat flour (atta)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 and 1/2 tsp raw cane sugar ( can use normal sugar too)
1/3 tsp of salt
1 C of cranberries and raisins mixed together
- In a bowl, mix together the milk, yeast and saffron and keep aside for 10 minutes.
- On another bowl, rub together with the fingertips, the flour, butter, sugar, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and tip in the saffron mixture. It will be very sticky. Gradually, add the 1/2 C of flour and knead in. Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes or till smooth and elastic.
- Shape the dough to a round, place in an oiled bowl and cover with an oiled plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise for at least 1 and 1/2 hours or till doubled in volume.
- Knock back the dough and knead in the cranberries and raisins.
- Lightly flour a baking tray. Shape the dough into a ball and place on the tray. Gently flatten the top to about 7-8 inches in diameter. With the thumb, index and middle finger, make a depression in the centre of the dough.
- With a sharp knife, make cuts all around, but not all the way down.Cover the tray with an oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise for at least 1/2 an hour or till doubled in volume.
- Pre heat the oven at 220 deg C. Place the tray in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for bout 10 minutes. At this point, if the top has browned nicely, cover the tray loosely with a piece of foil ( to avoid over browning) and bake for another 30 minutes. The bottom of the bread should sound hollow when tapped.
- Brush the tops with a little melted butter ( optional) and cool completely on the rack before slicing.
This is a gorgeous bread, both with regards to the crust and the crumb. I’ve tried bits of it on its own. It had the hint of spice and the fruits added a wonderful sweetness to the bread.
I am planning to serve it for breakfast tomorrow, and I know it will disappear from the table very soon; Rengoni and Agastya might like a little butter spread over it. Can you tell that I’m looking forward to the morning?
There you go Jamie, this one is for you.
Have a great weekend everyone!