Monday, 15 August 2011
Bread # 1
We all know it. We've all seen it. We've all had it. Since someone far back in the recesses of time and imagination decided that instead of imitating giant grasshoppers it may be more interesting to crush some grains until they crumble to dust, add water and form a paste in a vain demiurgical experiment to re-create the first beings, and eventually put that paste somewhere to bake (preferably in an oven, but a burning city or a small sun would do just fine as well), mankind has known bread. In many shapes and sizes, in many variations and under many different names, but it has known bread. Some say that a god one day inadvertently demanded bread for his sacrifice (for gods, being immortal, don't perceive time the way you do: they can simultaneously see in the past, present and prospective), thus triggering a chain of events that will eventually culminate with the creation of a bread-made mirror. Some say that it didn't happen incidentally at all. Still others claim that bread actually came from the gods. That it was a gift from Above to Below. They gave it to the humans so that even in the face of ultimate adversity and desolation, when all that remained would be darkness and despair, they would still have something to share with one another. How idyllic. How romantic. How true.
And no one knows this better than Divine Cherry herself. For she was there, that long forgotten mid-summer's afternoon, when bread was given to mankind. She was there when they received the Sacred Pastry, when they marvelled at its form, when they were raptured by its smell, when they fell in ecstasy at their first bite, when they fell in love with the Bakers and when eventually they fell to the ground before Celestial Dragon who was distributing it. Divine Cherry has been making bread ever since, and her admiration for the Baked Bundle knows no bounds indeed.
Unlike usually, however, her most precious aid in this ancestral task does not come from Celestial Dragon. Nor from Small Perfect Cloud. When Divine Cherry sets out to make bread, she calls on another being: Robin the All-rounder. Together they then embark on a quest for the perfect bread. After minute observation, it has been ascertained that the quest always begins thus:
First, Divine Cherry adds 15g of fresh yeast to a glass of lukewarm water (she uses 300g of water for the recipe in total, and it has been observed that the water used to melt the yeast comes rigorously from said 300g). After also putting in a pinch of sugar, she leaves it to rest for 10mins. In the meantime, she mixes 300g of wholemeal flour and 200g of strong white flour with 1&1/2 tsp of salt in a large bowl. When the ingredients are well-mixed, Divine Cherry then makes a hole in the centre of the bowl and pours in the yeast, the rest of the water, 3tbsp of sunflower oil and 2tbsp of honey. She mixes it all with a wooden spoon until the bowl contains a homogeneous paste. At this point, Divine Cherry puts the paste on a floured worktop table where she works it until it becomes elastic. (It is usually at this point that Robin the All-rounder steps in and gives her a hand). Naturally, if the paste is too sticky she adds a bit of flour; and if it is too dry, she adds a bit of water. Eventually, she forms the well-worked dough into a ball and covers it with a cloth (one or more if needed) and leaves it to raise for at least 2 hours. However, it is not a matter of time, really. She knows that it's ready when it has more or less doubled its volume. Also, Divine Cherry usually puts the dough to raise in a warmish place in order to accelerate the process. She has confided that in order to accelerate the process even further one may use more yeast, but she has also insinuated that in doing so one will lessen the quality of the bread, for it is better to let it raise slowly.
Once the dough has grown enough, Divine Cherry then transfers it onto a floured baking tray and forms it to will (but beware! one must do this very carefully, because a rough handling of the raised dough may entail a deflation of the latter, thus completely nullifying the raising process). Once the dough is formed, Divine Cherry covers it with a cloth again and leaves it be for another 45mins. Eventually, being normally short of a small sun or a burning city, she puts it in an extremely hot oven (230°C). She lowers the temperature to 210°C after 15mins and bakes the bread to perfection for another 20-30mins. Voilà.
SIMPLE HALF-WHOLEMEAL BREAD
-300g of strong wholemeal flour
-200g of strong white flour
-300g of lukewarm water
-15g of fresh yeast
-3 tbsp of sunflower oil
-2 tbsp of honey
-1&1/2 tsp of table salt
-a pinch of sugar
Melt the yeast in a glass of lukewarm water (from the 300g) with a pinch of sugar and leave it to rest for 10mins. Meanwhile, mix the flour (300g+200g) and the salt in a large bowl. Make a hole in the centre and add the glass of water with yeast, all the remaining water, the sunflower oil and the honey. Mix well until you get a homogeneous paste. On a floured worktop table, work the paste well until you get an elastic dough. In case it is too dry add some water, and in case it is too stick add some flour. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with some cloth and leave it to raise until it has more or less doubled size. This should take about 2 hours. Once that's done, transfer the dough on a floured baking tray and form it to will - make sure to handle the dough with utmost care at this point, because it is extremely fragile and you may risk to deflate it completely. Cover again and leave it to rest for another 45mins. Eventually, put it in the oven at at least 230°C. After 15mins lower the temperature to 210°C and bake it for another 20-30mins.
Ricetta in italiano
PANE SEMPLICE MEZZO INTEGRALE
-300 g farina integrale forte
-200 g farina bianca forte
-300 g acqua tiepida
-15 g lievito fresco
-3 cucchiai olio di semi di girasole
-2 cucchiai di miele
-1 e 1/2 cucchiaino sale fino
-una punta di zucchero
Sciogliere il lievito in un bicchiere di acqua tiepida (presa dai 300g) con una punta di zucchero e lasciare agire per 10 minuti. Nel frattempo mescolare in una ciotola capiente la farina e il sale. Fare un buco al centro e aggiungere: il lievito e tutta l'acqua, l'olio e il miele. Mescolare con un cucchiaio fino ad ottenere un composto omogeneo. Trasferire l'impasto sul tavolo infarinato e impastare a lungo fino a che il composto non risulta elastico. In caso aggiungere un po' di farina se l'impasto risulta troppo appiccicoso o un po' di acqua se risulta troppo duro. A questo punto formare una palla, coprire con canovaccio e lasciare lievitare, possibilmente in un luogo tiepido, fino a che il volume sarà più che raddoppiato. Ci vorranno almeno 2 ore: dipende dal clima e da quanto lievito è stato usato. Per accelerare aumentare il lievito (ma una lievitazione lenta migliora la qualità di pane).
Trasferire l'impasto su una teglia ben infarinata, dare la forma alla pagnotta (con delicatezza per non vanificare l'attesa di lievitazione!). Coprire con un canovaccio e laciar lievitare altri 45 minuti almeno. Infornare a forno caldissimo (230°C), dopo 15 minuti abbassare a 210°C e portare a cottura in altri 20-30 minuti.
And Spread the Mess