I’ve been enjoying a bit of bread making lately, and once you get hooked to it, there’s no going back to regular large scale bread from the local stores.
There’s a joy in the process of measuring, mixing and kneading the dough into submission: I tend to use these sessions to clear my head. Something about baking (and cooking generally) allows my mind to focus on issues in my mind and find a resolution. No wonder I’m often in the kitchen every weekend.
This weekend, I realized I was a bit restless while home on a Sunday afternoon as my mind has found a routine in the bread making sessions. So I quickly abandoned my guests in the living room, but assuaged them with the promise of freshly baked bread in a little while.
My nephew Josh asked me what I was going to bake, and I told him I’ll do the usual – assess the ingredients available, and then make a choice. So, cashewnut bread it was, and my sister Emm suggested that we make it savory.
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup water, warm
- 3 ¾ cups whole wheat flour (I used brown bread flour), and about a handful to knead with
- ¾ cup cashews, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons dark molasses
- 1 ½tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¾ cup plain yogurt (I substituted with ¾ cup fresh milk mixed with 2 tbsp vinegar)
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
Proof the yeast: Put the yeast in a bowl, and add the tablespoon of sugar to it. Mix with the cup of warm water, and let it sit for a while, to give it time to proof (rise and bubble).
Mix your flour, cashew nuts and salt in a large bowl and make a ‘well’ in the center. To this, add the yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the vegetable oil, molasses and yogurt/milk, and the fresh ginger.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and dust with flour, and knead for about 3 minutes till the dough is properly mixed. Roll it into a ball and lightly coat the surface with oil, then leave in a bowl covered with clingfilm or a wet kitchen cloth to rise. You can leave it on the countertop or somewhere it won’t get cold.
In the meantime, oil and dust a baking pan, or cover sides and bottom with baking parchment, and preheat oven to 180°C.
After about 1 hour, knead the dough, gently to knock some air out. Shape as desired, then place in bread or baking pan. Let it sit and rise till it’s above the baking pan edge. To decorate, sprinkle the top with seeds such as sliced almonds, sesame or poppy. Then pop into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
To check if it’s ready, remove from pan and tap the bottom. You should have a hollow sound. If not, return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. To avoid browning the top too much, cover the bread with aluminum foil.
Once ready, let the bread cool on a rack.
The bread goes well with soup. I toasted the bread and melted cheese on top, and served alongside mushrooms and tomatoes and some chillied vegetable soup. Perfect for a rainy evening!
Give it a try, and let me know how it turns out.