Archive for the ‘breads’ Category

I have been wanting to buy  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart for quite a while now. Unfortunately, the bookstore near my house seems to think that its alright if “next week” translates into a few months. In the mean time I have been trying recipes from whatever little is available in the preview of the book available at Google Books.  I have had much success with almost any recipe that I try from this book – the breads are extraordinary and beautifully textured even when I replace bread flour that is called for with all purpose flour. I owe getting my breads right and tasty to the small things that have been pointed out in the commentary section of this book and the detailed methods that emphasize on sensing the “just right” for each step of a recipe.

My favourite recipe from this book has to be the Poolish Ciabatta. I don’t think I have ever been so proud of a bread that I’ve baked right at the first attempt itself. Over the weekend, when Anu and I had a conversation about the recipe since she was trying it, I realized that I have actually never shared about the book or this fabulous recipe on the blog.

I follow the recipe faithfully except that I substitute the instant yeast with active dry yeast and the bread flour with All Purpose Flour. I use All Purpose Flour that has a higher protein content (approx 12%) than the maida with 10% protein that is largely retailed. Although I have shared the recipe below, I recommend that you read the original and try it. If like me you don’t get bread flour or instant yeast or work with a Samsung oven, it might help to look at some of the notes I have shared below.


This is the texture of the very first ciabatta that I made with this recipe. It has improved over the past few months.

Adapted from Original Recipe at Bread Baker’s Apprentice Peter Reinhart


For the Poolish

  • All Purpose Flour – 2 1/2 cups (12% protein)
  • Water – 1 1/2 cups
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1/4 tsp

For the Ciabatta

  • Poolish – 3 1/4 cups (All of the Poolish above)
  • All Purpose Flour – 3 cups (12% protein)
  • Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 3/4 tsp
  • Water – 1/2 cup (I use a couple of tablespoons more than this)
  • Olive Oil – 4 tbsp


  1. Prepare the Poolish – Warm the water for the Poolish. You should be able to dip your finger in the water i.e it should be lukewarm. In a larger bowl, add the yeast to the lukewarm water and keep aside for 10 minutes until it frothes. Add the flour and mix everything. Cover with a plastic wrap and keep aside at room temperature until the poolish starts bubbling and frothy on top. This takes me about 6-8 hours and I usually keep it overnight. Keep the prepared poolish in an air tight container in the fridge. Poolish keeps well for 3 days according to the book. I have never had the opportunity to find out! I use it the very next day.
  2. Take the poolish out of the fridge and rest for 1 hour.
  3. Warm 1/2 cup water until lukewarm. Add yeast and rest for 10 minutes until it froths. Add the flour, salt, olive oil and poolish and whisk it all together until it comes together as a dough.  While forming the dough, whisk fast in one single circular direction until everything comes together. If the dough doesn’t clear the sides of the bowl or in other words is still too sticky add a couple of tablespoons of flour.
  4. Flour your working counter. Transfer dough to the working counter with a flat scraper. Strech the dough to a rectangle about quarter of an inch thick. Fold the dough over itself the way a letter is folded. Stretch into a rectangle. Repeat this stretch and fold again. Mist the top of the dough with some oil. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold again.  Mist with oil again. Cover and let it rise for 2 hours until it looks inflated but not doubled.
  5. Spread a cloth on a smooth surface. At intervals, about the width of a ciabatta, raise the cloth to form divisions. Transfer dough carefully to a well floured working surface. Divide into two or three rectangles using a scraper that has been dipped in water.  Using a well floured scraper carefully transfer this to the compartments that had been formed with the towel. Mist the loaves with some oil and cover with a cloth and let it rise for 1 hours until the loaves look inflated or swollen.
  6. Transfer loaves to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal/ semolina. Bake at 220 C for 30-35 minutes or until loaves turn golden and are done. I check by tapping loaves at the bottom.  The original recipe recommends baking with steam – i.e, mist oven twice in 30 second intervals and bake with a bowl of water. I have done the mist and shut oven door, put a bowl of water and all of that circus in many recipes before. I have subsequently made the same recipes without the steam and frankly found no difference as long as my oven is concerned. I prefer to make my dough more hydrated to get better texture.
  7. Cool completely for about 1 hour before slicing and serving.


As you can see, I foolishly tried to score this dough the first time I made it, the dough is too wet and is not meant to be scored. I don’t do it anymore. You can dimple it if you like, very gently, being careful not to deflate the loaves.

Poolish Ciabatta – for the Recipe Marathon

Fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaViji, , Kamalika,Pavani, RoochiKaruna


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I finally have something exciting to report – something out of the ordinary that has given me a breather from the much ordinary life that I have had to put up with in these past few months.

A fully grown, rather round pigeon in all its wild flapping and squaking glory was discovered in a hole in my house. The said location of this discovery has an exhaust fan on the one end and a mosquito wire mesh on the other end. And this marvellous pigeon seemed to have materialized out of nowhere in the long cylindrical hole between the exhaust and the wire mesh!!! Imagine you woke up one fine day and found you were in a cage that has no opening!!! Obviously the pigeon was very traumatized. We managed to get the pigeon out by taking down the exhaust fan – it was more than glad to be escorted out of our apartment.

Not wanting to subject my readers to the sight of pigeon poop on my bathroom walls, I skipped taking a photograph of the scene. I honestly have no clue how the pigeon managed to get in such an improbable place – and I am not kidding. I do have some theories though.

How did the pigeon find itself inside the sealed hole?
  1. The pigeon is a novice magician. It was practising the “apparate” trick from the magic in Harry Potter series. It forgot all magic as soon as it realized that it was inside what seemed like a cage with no opening.
  2. The pigeon is a superhero that can turn into melted state at a whim. It melted its way through the wire mesh into the hole. Unfortunately its not in complete control of its powers especially when its under pressure.
  3. Its actually a phoenix disguised as a pigeon. Thanks to the wind, the ashes of its previous birth ended up in the hole.
  4. I have my own innovative theory, that is sure to beat the socks off your silly ones! Hmpf.

Which one do you support? Let me know through your comments.

(PS: WordPress Polls is not working right now, Hmpf. Can’t set up a real poll, which would have been fun.)

Getting back to talking about food, the real reason I sat to blog today was because I am compelled to post for the Recipe Marathon everyday till the end of this month.

This English Muffin Recipe has been adapted from Arundathi’s version (which in turn has been adapted from Bellini Valli at More than Burnt Toast). I have hiked up the moisture content a little bit by using less flour than her recipe and added raisins and cinnamon.


  • All Purpose Flour – 1 1/2 cups
  • Whole Wheat Atta – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Raisins – 1/2 cup
  • Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon (powdered) – 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1/8 tsp
  • Oil or Butter for greasing tin


  1. Warm the water. You should be able to dip your finger in the water. Dissolve the honey. Add active dry yeast and let it stand for 5-10 minutes until yeast frothes. Dissolve yeast.
  2. Combine milk and salt. Heat over a low flame until milk is lukewarm.
  3. Combine the All Purpose flour, Whole wheat atta, baking soda, raisins and cinnamon and add this to the milk and mix well until smooth.
  4. Grease a loaf pan. Transfer dough to loaf pan, cover and let it rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Bake at 200 C for 25 minutes. Cool before cutting into slices. Serve slices with butter slathered on one side.

Check my fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaVijiKamalika,Pavani

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Whole Wheat Herb Braided Bread

Each time I begin to share something that I have cooked on this blog, I feel so compelled to make an interesting beginning to the whole thing. If there’s a crisis greater than the “what to cook today?” syndrome, it has got to be the “how do I introduce this recipe/ begin this post?” syndrome. Its about 10:15 pm in the night right now, not really very late, but not really an hour when my creative senses are at their best.

The best that I can come up with is this list of mostly useless boring trivia related to this recipe:

  • I made this bread in August this year. The exact date is 10-08-2008. A 08-08-08 would have probably looked a little more exciting. Sigh.
  • It was made two days before my birthday. Hmmm.
  • I understand the true power of procrastination now. This bread was meant to be sent to Dhivya for her AWED – Italian, but it is making an appearence months later for the Recipe Marathon #2.
  • The inspiration for this recipe came from this Italian Herb Bread posted by Ann Barr .

Fortunately the bread is fabulously flavourful and interesting unlike my introduction. Although it takes about 8 hours including preparation and waiting time, its actually very simple to make and the result is worth the wait.


  • Water – 2 cups
  • Whole Wheat Atta – 3 1/2 cups + plus some more for dusting
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic – 1 tbsp (minced)
  • Dried Oregano – 1/2 tsp
  • Dried Basil – 1/2 tsp
  • Dried Thyme – 1/2 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 2 tbsp


  1. Warm the water. You should be able to dip your finger in the water. Dissolve the honey. Add active dry yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes until yeast frothes. Dissolve yeast.
  2. Combine Flour, herbs, garlic and salt in a bowl. Add to the yeast and bring together to form a dough.
  3. Knead the dough for 5 min until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Transfer to a well oiled bowl and set aside in a warm place until the dough is doubled in volume. This should take between 4-6 hours.
  5. After the dough has risen, punch it down, transfer to a floured surface and knead for a minute by folding. (i.e. knead by folding dough like you would fold a letter)
  6. Divide the dough into equal parts. Roll each part into a long rope/strand about 1/2 inch in thickness approximately. Braid the strands to form the loafloaves. You can make two 3 strand loaves and one 5 or 6 strand loaf. Follow this link for a fabulous video by Gerard that tells you how to braid with 3, 4, 5 or 6 strands.
  7. Set aside, cover with a cloth and let the loaf/loaves rise. This should take about 30minutes-1 hour.
  8. Preheat an oven to 180 C. Brush loaf/loaves with olive oil. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet.
  9. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes or until the loaf/loaves are golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack and slice.

Check my fellow marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaVijiKamalika,Pavani

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Veggie Casserole

Sra very rightly guessed that I’ve become obsessed with baking when I went and bought a book with a 1000 recipes. In fact I have become so obsessed that I baked okras in the oven. It took a whole 40 minutes to get the kind of crispness I’d achieve in 10 minutes on the stove top!!! And NO, it doesn’t take a whole lot of oil on the stove top if one knows how to regulate the temperature. But I can’t be expected to be logical in times like these when I am likely to be diagnosed with an almost borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I baked a whole lot of bread with Poolish or the french way of pre ferment. I am particularly proud of the way the ciabattas turned out.


You see the holes 🙂 – the texture and shape can improve of course but it looks so pretty already and tastes delightful.


Something had to be made the main course so that between my husband and myself, we could eat up all of that bread. Now given my condition that “something” obviously had to be baked. So I assembled a simple casserole with a few veggies.



  • Vegetables – 500 g (Potatoes, Peppers, Tomatoes or similar vegetables of your choice)
  • Onions – 2 Medium
  • Milk – 1/2 cup (or fresh cream/double cream for a richer version)
  • Cheese – 50 g
  • White breadcrumbs – 1/2 cup
  • Salt and Paprika for seasoning (as per taste)
  • Olive Oil – 1 tbsp


  1. Grease a 9 inch Baking dish with Olive Oil.
  2. Slice the Onions into rings. Saute the onions until translucent and set aside to cool. Slice the other vegetables into thin discs.
  3. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees C.
  4. Form layers in the baking dish with the sliced vegetables, starting with the tomatoes. Sprinkle white breadcrumbs and seasonings over each layer before proceeding to the next. Continue doing this till all the vegetables are used. End with a layer of either potatoes or tomatoes (never onions, unless you like black onions!!!).
  5. Pour the Milk into the baking dish. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and grated cheese.
  6. Bake at 200 C for 40 minutes or until the dish turns golden on top.

Serve with bread of your choice.

Notes: Oven timings may vary. Note the browning on top to know when to stop. I finished with a layer of tomatoes for a change this time. Finishing with Potatoes in a casserole is a better idea – browned potatoes taste doubly better than oven baked tomatoes IMHO.

Doubly Note: I also baked samosas along with my baking buddy. Check them out at Baking Buddies.

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No knead bread

Open Sesame is a fun monthly event hosted by Dhivya of DK’s Culinary Bazaar and Siri of Siri’s Corner. Each month you pick a box (virtually), you’re sent a riddle to crack (it indicates a culinary ingredient) and once you crack it, you’re to post something made out of it in the last week of the month. I cracked my riddle but that wasn’t enough. I had to plead with Siri for the other riddles to crack just for the heck of it. It was too much to hold my curiosity till the end of month!!!

The riddles are designed by Dhivya – entirely on her own. I picked a box of wheat and here’s the apparently riddled prose for “wheat”:

I am as old as you can think of me to be
Thought to be originated from the land of camels
I am breakfast, lunch and dinner for all to see
Or be it desserts from cakes , pies to caramels

I am famous all over the world from east to west
As breads, flatbreads , cookies to muffins
I am v healthy and like a treasure chest
For ppl – weight conscious and its healthy kins

Buckle up and take a pen and a paper
I am yellow when alive, brown when put to ‘dust’
Eating me makes you look so dapper
Now think hard and tell me what is that grain that we all genuinely trust

Not really that difficult to guess – breads, flatbreads, cookie, muffins – flours used are all usually wheat products.

I made no knead bread over the weekend. I made two versions, one with 100% All purpose flour (super refined wheat flour) and one with 100% Whole Aheat Atta (finely ground whole wheat flour). I preferred the flavour of the Whole Wheat No knead bread to the one made with All purpose flour.

The original recipe is from New York Times who’ve adapted from Jim Laney, Sullivan Street Bakery. I used active dry yeast, I have not come across instant yeast in stores in India and added a whole lot of honey. I like my bread to be mildly sweet. The recipe is a super star – we need to create a special badge and paste it all over. I adore this bread so much. Its got a beautiful crust that’s crisp but not hard, it has a flavour of its own and it looks completely rustic. I’d keep it as a centerpiece if I could find a way to preserve it. It’s so beautiful.

100% All Purpose Flour No Knead Bread

100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread

Ingredients for 100% Whole Wheat No Knead Bread (Yields: a little over 1/2 pound loaf)

  • Whole Wheat Atta – 1.5 cups
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1/2 tsp
  • Honey – 4 tbsp
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp
  • Cornflour or Wheat Bran or Semolina as required

Ingredients for 100% All purpose flour No Knead Bread (Yields: a 1 1/2 pound loaf)

  • All purpose flour – 3 cups
  • Water – 1.5 cup (plus 2-3 tbsp more when whisking flour into dough)
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1/2 tsp
  • Honey – 6 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Cornflour or Wheat Bran or Semolina as required


  1. Warm the water. You should be able to dip your finger in the water. Dissolve half of the honey. Add active dry yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes until yeast frothes. Dissolve yeast.
  2. Combine Flour and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add flour mix and remaining honey to the dissolved yeast in cup measures and whisk it with a spoon or your hand into a sticky loose dough. The dough will look messy. As long as the flour comes together into one misshapen ball its fine. Cover with a plastic wrap or a cloth and let the dough rest for 16-20 hours.
  4. The dough is ready when it is dotted with bubbles on top. Flour your work surface. Wet your hands and transfer dough to the work surface. The dough will be very sticky. Using cold water to wet your hands helps. Stretch the dough and fold it over itself twice. Cover with cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Flour your surface again if necessary and dust the dough as little. Shape the dough. Tucking the edges under the dough helps achieve a fairly round shape.
  6. Coat a cotton towel with cornflour, wheat bran or semolina. Be generous. Place cotton towel in a deep container. Transfer dough and let it rise for 2 hours. Dough will look taut when ready but will not spring back when poked with a finger.
  7. About 30 minutes before the dough is ready to be baked, place a stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron deep pot in the oven and preheat oven to 220- 230 C.
  8. Remove pot from the oven when the dough is ready. Flour the pot lightly or line it if you’re using stainless steel. Slide your hand under the towel and dump dough into the pot seam side up. It will looks messy – it shaped out rather well it it self. Shake to even the dough out.
  9. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 220-230C. Bake uncovered for an additional 15-30 minutes at 220-230C until the bread is browned. Cool on a rack.

100% All Purpose Flour No Knead Bread Texture

100% Whole Wheat No knead bread texture


  1. If you’re looking for an airy 100% wheat bread, then this is it. It has lots of holes and is much much more flavourful than a regular bread.
  2. I used the same size pot for both the AP flour bread and the Wheat bread although the Wheat bread dough was almost half. Big mistake. Use a deep narrow enough pot for bread that has height. The bread’s diameter will match that of your pot and if you want a good rise use an appropriately sized pot.
  3. Wheat dough takes more time to rise and form bubbles – about 4 hours more in my experience. Its much more flavourful. Wait patiently for the wheat dough to wake up. You will relish it.
  4. I over dosed on flouring the towel the first time while baking the AP flour bread. Result is a cracked crust on top although I din’t score the bread. The balance of flour to water needs to uniform and maintained well.

I made grilled sandwich out of the AP flour bread and had the Wheat bread dipped in Salsa sauce and with some jam.

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Making of a Pizza

My quest for the perfect pizza base has ended. I have browsed and browsed and browsed through several recipes and pages of information on what it takes to get that perfect pizza crust – thin, light, soft on the inside and crisp outside. I don’t even remember half the sites I’ve browsed through. And I believe I have finally hit on the method and recipe that delights my pizza cravings to no end.

For a thin, crisp, light crust, this is what I gathered and I can confirm based on my experience:

  1. The Dough needs to be loose and not firm.
  2. Dough does not need kneading. Pizza bases are not breads. Whisking in one direction while forming dough is enough.
  3. Add more sugar or honey for better flavour.
  4. Cold fermentation or an overnight stay in the fridge for the dough helps (and it helps a great deal)
  5. Pizzas need not be tossed. A dough that can be stretched with the palm or rolling pin on a flat surface where more flour can be incorporated works wonders.

So this fine day when I was craving for pizzas I decided to put all of this research to some use. I made a wet dough, added a whole tablespoon of honey and let the dough sleep in the fridge. It worked – and it helped a great deal to get the crust I’ve always wanted in my home oven.

Makes: Two 12 inch Pizzas


For the Base/ Crust/Pizza Dough

  • Water – 1 cup
  • All Purpose Flour – 2 1/2 cups (plus extra for dusting)
  • Corn Flour – 3 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Dried Herbs of Choice – 2 tbsp (optional)

For Topping

  • Sauce of choice – 2 tbsp (or Olive Oil)
  • Toppings of choice – 1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced and sauted (tossed in 4-5 tbsp of sauce of choice if you like)
  • Cheese of choice – 1/2 cup (grated) (or 6 tbsp for each pizza)


  1. Warm 1 cup water. Water that you can dip your finger in is warm enough. Dissolve the sugar, add honey and yeast. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Dissolve the yeast.
  2. Mix All Purpose Flour, Corn flour, Salt and Basil. Dissolve one cup of the flour mix to dissolved yeast. Add the second cup and combine by whisking in one circular direction with your hand. Add the remaining flour and whisk into a dough. Add the olive oil 1 tbsp at a time while combining into dough. The dough will be loose but well combined and smooth. The dough is not kneaded.
  3. Divide the dough into two. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This should take about 1-2 hours.
  4. Flour the pizza pan. Preheat oven to 250 degrees C.
  5. Take one portion of the dough onto the pizza pan and using your palm pat into think circular disk till it covers the pan. You can use a rolling pin. Dust with flour while stretching. If the dough bounces back, let it rest for a while and stretch. Cut out any extra edges. The edges of the base should be slightly thicker. Using a fork prick all over the base.
  6. Spread 1 tbsp of the Sauce. Spread Toppings. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust turns golden or cheese starts to brown. Or bake the base for 5 minutes. Take out spread the sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 5 to 15 minutes. Your method will depend on choice of sauce/ toppings (the amount of water or liquid content) and how hot your oven can get.
  7. Take out from oven and let pizza cool down before transferring to serving plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Slice into pieces and serve.


  • You can safely replace half of the All Purpose Flour with Whole Wheat Flour and get the same results. Whole Wheat absorbs a lot more water. Add enough water to make a loose dough.
  • Dough kept overnight in the fridge and rested about an 1 hour outside before baking produces better results. Reduce yeast to 1tsp in this case.

Pizza Dough Recipes from other blogs:

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