Home Made Bread - My Two Cents
To go straight to the recipe, please click here.
Life is not worth living if I cannot have pasta or bread again.
- Monica Seles
Couple of years back, I had posted a photo of a Cumin Bread on my Facebook page and I had forgotten all about it. So, when my friend, Bindu, wanted the recipe for the Cumin Bread, I had to ask her to give me some time till I find the recipe for her. It has been quite some time now, I hope she has not given up on me yet!!
My hunt for the recipe I had used couple of years back, started on the internet, but I did not find the one I had used. Then I thought of "adapting" a recipe to use Cumin. I found a few recipes - one that looked promising was for a No-Knead bread. Though the recipe was not for Cumin Bread, I felt I could make some changes and adapt the recipe to make Cumin Bread. Oh Well, I think it is suffice to say that my family unanimously declared that there is "no-need" for the "no-knead "bread in our house. So, it was back to the "research" again. I remembered about my Betty Crocker book from which I have made many dishes and they were all loved by family and friends. It is one of the most revered books in my cook book collection 🙂 . I adapted the bread recipe from the book to make this Cumin Bread and my family loves it whenever I make it.
I am a novice bread baker - I started only a couple of years back. My main motivation for making bread at home is to avoid the many preservatives and chemicals in the store brought breads - I cannot pronounce some of the names in the ingredients list. (The tons of preservatives in the quick popping pop-corn is what made me switch to home-made pop-corn). My family does not eat what this mamma cannot pronounce 😉 . That being said, I do not bake regularly either - mainly because of lack of time. I have found some store brought breads that are not loaded with preservatives, but those are slightly expensive.
Being no expert baker, these are my observations based on my experiences with bread making (If there are avid bread makers who are reading this post, please let me know if I am making mistakes. I am still learning). Hope these tips help you in making yummy breads from your own kitchen. There is something delicious about the smell of freshly baked bread, right? Now, we "knead" to be serious 🙂 It does not take many fancy ingredients to bake a simple bread at home. For a good loaf of bread, I cannot stress the importance of fresh ingredients.
Basic Steps involved in Bread Making
- Mixing of Ingredients
- First Rise
- Second Rise
I will explain each of these steps in detail in the rest of this article.
Mixing the ingredients
Follow the order of mixing the ingredients as given in the recipe.
Pay attention to the water temperature while mixing, as it is critical. In this Cumin Bread recipe, we mix the water with the other dry ingredients, so the temperature we are looking for is about 120 -135 degree Fahrenheit (approximately 48 - 58 degree Celsius). Water that is too cold will not activate the yeast, and water that is too hot, will kill the yeast. Talk about power of water temperature!! You can refer to this site for more information on water temperature for proofing yeast. I use a candy thermometer to check the water temperature. But it is okay if you do not have a thermometer. The water you use should be pleasantly warm to touch. With practice you will be able to figure out the correct temperature.
I always use fresh yeast, and it has not failed to rise (even though I do not proof it). If you are worried about adding the yeast directly to the flour, you can definitely proof it.
Too much water will result in a very sticky dough and flatter loaf and too little water can result in a hard loaf.
Knead For Bread
Kneading is a very important step in bread making. Kneading is what creates the gluten, a type of protein, which acts a glue to keep the dough together while baking. It also creates tiny pockets to trap the carbon dioxide that is formed when yeast reacts with the other ingredients. Good kneading is crucial to a good loaf of bread. I generally knead on a flat surface (my kitchen counter) for a good 8-10 minutes. Do not tear apart the dough, just fold and stretch the dough repeatedly. As a side effects of kneading, you get good upper body strength, to make more bread 😉 .
Let it Rise
Once you have kneaded the dough for a good 8-10 minutes, you have to set it to rise (first rise). Now comes the part where the baker, i.e. you, get a break for some time. Set the timer and forget it, right? Kinda. Most of the recipes for breads do specify the time it should take the dough to rise, well, in ideal conditions. Set the timer and do a physical inspection of the dough - it should be bloated, ultra-soft to touch, there should be small air holes at the top, the indentation you make with your finger does not fill up and stays there - if you have all of these, your dough has risen. None of these? Wait for some more time.
Punch and Shape
Baking bread can be a very therapeutic experience. Bad day at office? Bake bread and when it is time to punch the dough - sing a happy song and get all your frustrations out on the bread 🙂 . Punch the dough down and release all the air trapped in the dough. Shape the dough according to the recipe. Can something go wrong at this stage? According to my humble opinion, no. If the shape is not right, you will have a bad shaped loaf of bread, but it would still taste good 🙂 . At this stage you can garnish your bread with different sprinkles like oats, sesame seeds etc. One little thing - I line my loaf pan with parchment paper before I place the loaf in the loaf pan. Learn how to perfectly line your loaf pan. Lining your loaf pan with parchment paper makes it easy to remove the loaf from the pan after baking.
You have shaped your bread. Now what? You let it rise for a second time. Here again, use the time given in the recipe as a guide line - let your dough rise just to the brim of your loaf pan. At this time, I would also suggest you start preheating your oven (making sure you understand where you want to place the oven rack. If nothing is mentioned in the recipe, go ahead and place the oven rack in the middle). Preheating the oven at this stage will give your oven time to reach the temperature evenly and be ready to bake the loaf of bread.
Follow the temperature and oven rack position mentioned in the recipe. But just don't forget about the bread till the oven beeps at the end. Keep an eye on your bread and if you feel that the loaf is browning too much, use an aluminum foil to "tent" your bread. Yes, you will be opening the oven door to do it, and the temperature inside would drop, but you gotta do what you gotta do! Do not forget to wear protective mittens.
Enjoy your fresh loaf of bread.
It feels like too much work for one loaf of bread. Can I make more than one loaf in a batch ? Can bread be frozen?
Fresh bread - well, the taste speaks for itself. It is a fact that home-made bread dries out faster than the store-bought ones due to the lack of preservatives (yay!!). That should speak volumes on why you should bake bread at home, right? Coming back to the question, whether you can make more than one loaf - yes you can. This Cumin Bread recipe doubles easily. But can you freeze the second loaf? It is a personal preference. Some people I know frown upon the idea of freezing bread, but some have no issues with it. Wanna find out what you think? Make some Cumin Bread today, freeze a portion and taste it a few days later. But do not forget to let me know your opinion about frozen bread.
- 3.5 cups approximately 435 g All purpose flour
- 1 package 2.25 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1.5 tbsp Granulated White Sugar
- ½ tbsp Salt
- 1.5 tsp Cumin
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp Water at 120-130 degree Fahrenheit
Sprinkles (See Recipe Notes)
- 1-2 tsp Milk
- 1-2 tbsp Oats
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Loaf Pan
- Small bowl
- Measuring Spoons and Cups
- Thermometer optional, but preferred
- Pastry Brush 2
- Parchment Paper make sure it can be used at 425 degree Fahrenheit
- Cling Film
- Rolling Pin
- Aluminum Foil to tent the bread
Mixing the Ingredients
- In a small saute pan, dry roast the cumin seeds for a few seconds to bring out their flavor.
- Prepare your loaf pan. Please refer this to learn how to line your loaf pan.
- Mix (approximately) half of the flour, cumin seeds, sugar, yeast and salt.
- Add the olive oil.
- Make a small well in the flour mix and add water. Mix well. The dough will be very sticky.
- Add the rest of the flour a little at a time and make a soft and easy to handle. At this point, the dough should not be sticky.
- Knead this dough for about 8-10 minutes over a flat surface. Brush with oil and place in a well greased bowl.
Let it Rise
- Cover the bowl with cling film.
- Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 60 minutes and rise to double it's volume. The dough will look bloated and you will see air holes at the top. When you make a small indentation with your finger, the indentation will not fill back up.
Shaping the Loaf
- Punch the dough down and release all the air trapped inside.
- Lay on a flat surface and roll into a rectangle. (The length of the rectangle should be approximately 3 times the width of the loaf pan and the width of the rectangle should be a little less than length of the loaf pan)
- Fold the shorter side of the rectangle and bring it to the middle as shown in the picture below.
- Starting at the top of the fold, roll the rectangle into a loaf. Pinch the edges together. Also press each of the ends together to seal the sides.
- Place the shaped loaf into the prepared loaf pan and press the loaf down to fit snugly in the loaf pan.
- Brush with milk (you can also use egg wash instead of milk) and sprinkle oats on top.
- Let the shaped loaf rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or till the dough reaches the brim of the loaf pan.
- Place the oven rack in the low position, so that when you place the loaf pan on the rack, the top of the loaf would reach the center of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit (220 degree Celsius). (See Recipe Notes)
- When the loaf has risen to the brim of the loaf pan, bake the bread for about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing.
Have you tried this Avocado toast? It is delicious.
We made another yeast bread for Christmas last year - a traditional Czech recipe - Vánočka.