The original recipe calls for fig and walnuts but I think prunes do well here too giving the bread a sweetish tangy taste. This is my entry using Delmonte prunes for the Indiblogger/Delmonte recipe contest (just in case you were wondering why I was suddenly blogging A LOT recently about Delmonte). Phones and netbooks as prizes await the winners…This post includes a few videos I’ve made on how to mix flour, knead dough and fill the dough (apologises for the bad lighting) because this is where most people come unstuck in bread making.
Bread can be a real road block for some people. But if you use the right techniques and don’t give up you’ll eventually get it right and you’ll be a unstoppable bread making machine. The recipe and techniques have been taken from Masterchef Masterclass 2012. You can easily halve this recipe (ingredients and timings) if you are making bread for the first time as it works well as a half loaf as well.
400 gms x plain flour (maida)
100 gms x wheat flour (atta)
1 tsp x salt
1.5 tsps x yeast (active dry)
335 ml x tepid water.
3/4 th cup x prunes cut up and 1/2 cup walnuts whole
ice and semolina.
1. Put the first 4 ingredients into a bowl. Mix to distribute. Then add the tepid water (just warm – too hot and it will kill the yeast, too cold and it will not activate the yeast). Then bring the flour together by keeping your hand in a stiff claw shape and moving your hand around, slowing drawing in the flour as you do so. Don’t rush the process – it will take a couple of minutes to bring all the flour in. Then turn it on to a clean surface. Video below shows this.
2. To knead the dough (see video) stretch the ball of dough out, bring back to a ball shape and repeat 3 to 6 (or 9) times. This will stretch and develop the gluten out which is what makes the bread light and airy. You don’t need to pound and thump it like you would chappati dough. This is just a simple stretching.
3. Once you’ve kneaded the dough, you’ll see that it’s far more shiny and silk. Flatten in to an oblong shape. Add 3/4th cup of prunes and 1/2 cup of walnuts, packing it on to the dough surface. Roll the dough towards yourself, pinching the sides with your thumb as you do so. The sides should look like a swiss roll. Flatten and repeat the rolling so that the prunes and walnuts are peaking out.
4. Place the dough under a glass bowl to allow it to prove (rise) for 1 hr. During this 1 hr, every 20 minutes, knock back the dough. To do this gently flatten out the dough to release the air that’s built up and roll it back in to a dough shape. By this time the prunes and walnuts will all be sticking out which is fine. Knocking back the dough will stimulate the yeast more, causing the dough to rise even more. But don’t punch it as such, gently release the air.
5. After 1 hr flatten the ball of dough in to an oblong shape and pinch and roll as you did in the beginning. This is the final shape the bread will take so as long as you get it right at this stage, that’s fine. Sprinkle some semolina on a chopping board and gently place the dough on top. The semolina is to prevent the dough sticking to the board. Cover the board with a plastic bag, creating a little warm cuccoon for the dough. Ensure it is in a warm place. Let it rise in the bag for 1 hr.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees centigrade with a baking sheet inside.
After one hour, gently remove the dough off the board, ensuring you do not let any air out of the dough. Make 3 slashes on the top with a knife – this lets the steam out and creates a crispy crust. Don’t cut through the entire dough, just slash the top. Place the dough in the oven on the heating baking sheet. Place a tray below the bread, tip in about 10 to 15 ice cubes. The ice will turn to steam which will fill the oven and give the bread a wonderful crispy crust. Or you could place a bowl of boiling water under the bread but I find ice easier to manage.
As soon as the bread goes in, turn the oven down to 200 degrees centigrade. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The dough is ready when the top has browned and when you tap it, there is a hollow sound.
Can be cut warm, smothered in butter and eaten at breakfast or it makes a great tea time snack with butter and jam.