Thursday, January 25, 2007
Rewena Bread - Stage : Construction / Completion
NB. I've since added some suggestions which may improve the flavour of the bread - a big thanks to Mary from La Tavola.
With my mother installed as overseer and technical advisor, it was time to bake some bread - out came the ingredients:
/ litre of starter/bug (feed the remainder with sugar & water; otherwise pop in the fridge if you're not wanting to make more bread anytime soon)
Combine dry ingredients and form a well, either in a bowl or on a clean surface. Pour bug into well and mix (yes, that's my mum - she started it and I eventually jumped in).
You may find you'll need to add water to the mixture if it appears too dry.
Time to knead the dough; more flour may be required to make it firmer. Kneading serves to further combine the ingredients, as well as distributing tiny air pockets evenly throughout the dough, thus strengthening its structure. Parallels were drawn between my kneading and that of an alsation playing the piano, so again my mother stepped in to show me how it's done (UPDATE - Mary suggested a couple of tips at this point: the dough should be a little sticky - too much flour when kneading can make it dry, as can too much kneading, which should be done for ten minutes at the most).
Cut (if necessary) and shape your dough. Place in a bowl, cover and leave to prove for a few hours in a warm place (such as the backseat of a Ford Laser parked in the sun UPDATE - er, this may be a tad too hot: if the proofing temperature is too high, not only will it drive off moisture, but temperatures above C stress the yeast - try your airing/hotwater cupboard instead). The dough will by now have almost doubled in size; knead again to remove any large air pockets that may have formed.
Bake at Celsius in a greased loaf tin (which I don't have, hence the improv metal bowl-thingy) for - minutes. As the baking draws to a close, test the bread with a skewer or knock on the top of the loaf - if it sounds hollow, it's ready.
Well, it certainly looks impressive, but how did it taste? Bland. The last time I had rewena bread was a loaf I'd bought from the Albert St market in Palmerston North; it was firm and sweet. This, while big and bountiful, tasted a little dry and lacked the distinctive taste of that loaf, the subtle tang combined with its characteristic sweetness. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong - mum attributed it to the potatoes (I used new instead of floury(sp?) potatoes which are meant to be better), or some sort of glitch during fermentation. No matter - this was my first effort and now that I have a bug, I can try again and hopefully develop my rudimentary baking skills.
A big twenty-one gun salute to mummo for all her help and patience (bless!).
UPDATE - Mary also suggested using a little honey in the dough mixture; it retains moisture, limiting the likelyhood of the dough drying out while also imparting sweetness and flavour (depending on the type you use, say, Manuka).