Sunday, August 26, 2012

Healthy but Dense Cranberry Nuts Bread

Ever since I started Pinterest, my enthusiasm in bread making is re-kindled. Check out the food & drinks category of Pinterest and you'll be indulging in various pictures and forms of these yeasted carbs. Grilled cheese paninis, pulled pork ciabattas, chicken avocado on rye, buttery dinner rolls, sweet cinnamon bread, soft pull-apart parmesan monkey bread.. you get the idea right?

My version of sandwich - Carrot Tuna on Hazelnut Cranberry Rye
I pulled out my flour-encrusted, dough-spotted notes from my KL bread-making class, went off to buy all sorts of flour - bread flour, dark rye, whole wheat, lots of nuts - walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and stocked the fridge with milk, eggs and cranberries.

The journey started with me ambitiously embarking on a 500g dough recipe, with 50% dark rye, 50% bread flour. I guess I over-estimated my Kenwood mixer's capability. Barely 10 minutes into kneading, the dough hook decided to give up and went at 10x the normal speed. Bumh! Bits of dough flew all over the living room. My arms took over but either I did not knead long enough or the technique was not right. The bread did not rise well and turned out really heavy.

That was the first attempt.

My 2nd attempt was a little better. I gathered that I should take baby steps. Lower the total volume and reduce the ratio of dark rye. Googling for ideas, I picked up a Walnut bread recipe by Dailydelicious. I've always loved the walnut bread by Cedele. (My recent favourite is their soft pumpkin bread. Soft and slightly sweet. Thumbs-up!)

Off I went to try out the recipe with some tweaks. Here goes:

Ingredients (Source

188g bread flour
94g rye flour (I used dark rye)
94g whole wheat flour (can get this from NTUC)
6g instant dry yeast
260ml water
1.5 tsp sea salt
Hazelnuts halves, toasted and cooled (can be sub with any other nuts)

1. Mix flours and yeast in mixer bowl, stir to combine briefly
2. Add salt and 3/4 of the water
Note: Salt should not come into direct contact with yeast, it will kill the yeast
3. Knead with dough hook until dough reaches the windowpane stage - around 20 minutes
Note: let the mixer rest couple of times during the kneading stage to prevent over-heating of mixer
Note: Add more water if dough is too dry, up to the full amount of liquid stated above. I used almost all of the water.
Windowpane stage - read here
4. Pull dough out onto a floured silpat and round the dough into a ball
5. Leave to rise for 2 hours
The dough should have doubled in volume, as seen here:

6. Flop dough out onto floured silpat again, gently punch the air out of the dough
7. Roll out the dough, add desired amount of nuts and cranberries
Note: I soaked the cranberries in milk first to make it moist and plump
8. Shape according to preference (I shaped one long loaf and 2 breadsticks)
Note: this is a slightly dense loaf, would not be able to achieve the tall bread loaf shape ala pullman types
9. Make slits on top of loaves and sprinkle flour atop for that rustic look

10. Leave to rise for another 1 hour
Note: the dough would have risen again. It's ready to bake when you press the dough lightly and the indentation bounced back slightly but leaving a mark behind
11. Pre-heat oven to 200C

For a crusty top, do the following:
A. Place a metal (never place glass) container below the baking tray in the oven when pre-heating
B. Prepare a bowl of boiling water
C. When ready to bake, place bread inside the oven and immediately pour the hot water into the bottom tray and close the oven. This creates a steaming effect which helps to make the bread crusty.

12. Bake for around 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 175C, remove the bottom pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes
The bread is ready when you tap the bread and it sounds hollow.
Cool completely before cutting.

Verdict - this 2nd attempt was better and the bread was pretty chewy on the inside with a slightly crusty top. Taste better when toasted lightly again before eating. The edges will be more crusty and you can hear the "cruunch" when you bite into it. Pretty good but my skills are still far from bakery standards.

Will continue my journey of crusty breads.. to be updated!

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