Category Archives: Bread

Tingmos – Tibetan Steamed Buns

The July challenge in the ‘We Knead to Bake’ group was to make Tingmos or Ting Momos, which are Tibetan steamed buns, flavoured with ginger, garlic, sprong onions and coriander. Even though these are yeasted breads, they are steamed rather than baked, reminiscent of bao, char siu buns and dim sum rather than the traditional western breads.

Typically eaten at breakfast, these buns are ideal to sop up hot, spicy gravies and sauces. The suggested accompaniment is Sepen, a Tibetan hot sauce. But I decided to cook these for lunch and so I served them with a dish of spicy chilli bean pork with bamboo shoots and mustard greens. The hot and slightly sweet pork, with the bitter leaves gave an excellent contrast to the garlic-and-coriander tingmos.

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Pesto and chilli bacon pull apart rolls with coconut milk and Parmesan

I love pull-apart rolls. There is so much joy to be had in the tearing and sharing of bread with loved ones. And there is a certain hedonistic pleasure in biting into soft, creamy bread and getting hits of flavour with each swirl.

I’ve been toying with the idea of using coconut milk in bread for a while now. The pesto rolls are a firm favourite in our household but I wanted to do some other flavours too. And my gaze fell on a small jar of smoky chilli bacon jam.

The end result was a wonderful partnership of flavours. Coconut milk to knead into the dough and provide a slightly sweet, creamy back note, paired with the half the rolls having salty pesto and the other half having smoky, hot bacon and chillies. All complemented by some grated Parmesan.

The recipe is simple, and the rewards are great.

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Maritozzi Con La Panna (Roman cream buns)

 The June bread challenge set for us in the We Knead to Bake group was ‘Maritozzi Con La Panna’ – which is an Italian sweet bun, sort of like a brioche. They have an orange and vanilla flavour and are traditionally filled with whipped cream or with a glaze or even dusting of icing sugar. We decided to forego both versions, and they tasted brilliant even served as-is with our evening tea/coffee. The combination of orange with vanilla was very nice, and the raisins and toasted pine nuts provided an interesting texture with each bite.

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A crusty white loaf or a Ciabatta?

Sometimes a disaster can turn out to be pretty good.  I started out to trial my new banneton for the first time by making a simple white loaf. But something went wrong. The dough wouldn’t behave normally, and after kneading for a while, I thought I’d let it rest (and hopefully autolyse).

After a couple of hours of resting, and stretching and folding, it was a little better but not much. With a great dusting of flour, I put it into the Benetton and waited with bated breath. When I judged it to be roughly doubled in size, I turned it out onto oiled parchment paper. I had thought about scoring, but on seeing it visibly deflating and subsiding before my very eyes, I decided to forego that. Quickly, it went straight into a pre-heated, pre-steamed oven.

I peered anxiously through the window, and hail the deities, there was oven spring! After a while, it seemed to have achieved final stature, and so I turned down the heat a bit and  let it bake for a good while longer, until I judged the colour and sound was just right.

There’s nothing to drive you up the wall with hunger more than the smell of freshly baking bread.

Eventually, after all the hidden drama, I ended up with a gorgeous smelling hunk of bread that had a nice crust on the outside, with a soft crumb on the inside. It hadn’t held its shape long enough and so lost the patterns of the banetton. The crust wasn’t soft enough for it to be a ciabatta, even though I had made it with olive oil rather than butter. Hence the quandary, is it a cob, a batârd or a ciabatta?

For curious minds, here are the ingredients.

  • Strong white bread flour – 400gm
  • Instant yeast – 6gm
  • Sea salt – 7gm
  • Water – 210gm
  • Olive oil – 25gm
  • Flour for dusting

P.S I blame the flour 😉

‘Gone-in-ten-minutes’ Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia

This classic Italian bread is a firm favourite in our household. It rarely lasts long, so much so that I’ve nicknamed it my ‘gone-in-ten-minutes’ focaccia. It is super easy to make, requiring very low skills in bread making or kneading. What it does require though, is a little self-belief and confidence in handling wet doughs, and the faith that it will turn out alright despite appearances.

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Pesto, Parmesan and Sundried tomato pull-apart rolls

Pesto, Parmesan and Sundried tomato pull-apart rolls

I have been eyeing my friend Rhea Mitra-Dalal’s recipe for pesto pull-apart rolls for a long time. She makes them quite often, and the whole idea of tear and share rolls, flavoured with pesto has always appealed to me. I had even attempted something on similar lines a while ago, unfortunately with little success. But now, after having done a few different breads earlier on Aparna’s We Knead to Bake challenges in previous months, I felt more confident of being able to achieve the desired softness and texture that I was looking for. So, I thought of trying this again for this month’s challenge – which was to have a savoury, filled, decoratively shaped bread.

The end result was all I could have hoped for and more. The soft pillowy texture of the rolls, the goodness of the pesto and the sweetness of the homemade sun-dried tomatoes, all prefectly complemented by the rich umami of the parmesan cheese. These rolls were a massive hit at home. I have made two batches already, and they disappear almost as fast as I can make them.

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Gibassier, a delightful french bread with orange and anise

This month, the ‘We Knead to Bake’ challenge set by Aparna was to make some Gibassier. This is a sweet bread, almost a pastry, from the Provence region of France. At first glance, the flavours of orange and anise seemed a delightful combo, and I wanted to make this straightaway. Then I read the recipe, and realises it was not as straightforward as the other breads I have made. In fact, this is the most complex bread recipe I have ever made so far. And that was daunting, but exciting at the same time.

Gibassier, a french bread with orange and anise

Gibassier, a french bread with orange and anise

The key challenge here was the soft, super enriched dough, and the use of a pre-fermented starter dough or ‘Biga’. So this called for some careful planning and preparation. And the recipe also introduced me to a new ingredient; orange blossom water. I’d never used it before, but was intrigued. I must admit, we had problems with the rise on the first proving. After two hours, there was no sign of any activity. So I left it overnight and by morning it had become a monster!

Don’t know if I will go through the whole hassle again, but in the end, it was a great experience (though the journey was trying) with an excellent end result. The house smelled divine, with aromas of orange and anise wafting through the kitchen as the bread baked. and the breads tasted perfect, slightly warm, with a hot cup of coffee.


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