I remember my halcyon days when I was a shy and timid schoolgirl,going reluctantly to school,going for my music class and then shopping for basic necessities in the nearby market.The place was Lucknow and the market – Bhootnath market.I know many of you might be smiling seeing the name but there is the famous Bhootnath Temple(dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhoothnath is one of His names) and the market was built around the temple thus getting the name.In this market a famous Bakery opened which appeased instantly to everyone’s palate.They kept everything from freshly baked bread(sliced and unsliced) plus various kinds of breads,multiple varieties of cookies(or biscuits as they are called in India),buns – plain and cream buns(these were super delicious),puff pastry biscuits,various kinds of cream cakes,birthday cakes,confectionary,party items,balloons….I could go on and on!One of their wonder breads was Masala Bread – a very soft loaf characteristic of Indian flavours and melt in the mouth consistency.
This is the bread I experimented with and came up with wonderful results.This bread was loved by everyone and was actually addictive.Though it was filling at one slice,the heart wanted one slice more and then there was a conflict!However we can eat only as much as the tummy can sustain however this bread was had for breakfast,toasted with garlic butter and had for tea and the first day eaten with the dinner subzi.
So let us see how the bread is made so that more people can enjoy it!For a start I make a pre ferment also called a starter or a sponge and add this to the dough.Make the sponge 8 – 24 hours before kneading the dough,wrap it in clingfilm and keep it refrigerated till use.
Making the Pre ferment/Starter/Sponge
1 1/4 cups plain flour/all purpose flour(maida)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Instant Yeast
Water as required
Combine flour and yeast thoroughly and pour honey over.Add enough water and knead to form a loose and sticky dough.Spread a sheet of clingfilm and take out the dough on it.Wrap it well and refrigerate it till use.
For the bread :
Preparation Time : 3 hours
Makes : One big loaf
250 gms plus 1/2 cup plain flour/all purpose flour(maida)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter(at room temperature – soft)
1 tbsp Oil
For the Masala :
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder(jeera)
1 tsp Coriander powder(dhaniya)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder(haldi)
The fresh ingredients :
2 Onions – sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh Coriander and Mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh Garlic (optional)
2 tsp chopped fresh Ginger (optional)
After refrigerating for 8 – 24 hours,take the preferment out and put it in a mixing bowl.Prepare a loaf pan by greasing it with butter or oil and sprinkling flour on it or by just spraying it with a cooking spray.
In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients – flour(minus the 1/2 cup),salt yeast and all the masalas.Whisk well to combine.Sprinkle this over the preferment and cover with clingfilm.Set aside for 2 – 4 hours till the preferment comes to room temperature and starts mixing with the flour mix.Even if this does not happen(depending on climate and temperature) do not worry as the bread will turn out great.
Add the butter to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.Once the mixture starts coming together,flour a kitchen countertop and take out the dough onto it.Knead very well for 15 – 20 minutes(a good exercise for the shoulders) or if you have a stand mixer,you can put the preferment and dough in the bowl itself and follow this procedure.Knead till very soft and smooth – almost like a baby’s bottom.Oil a bowl and put the prepared dough in it.Flip it over so that the Oil covers the surface.Cover with clingfilm and set aside for 30 – 40 minutes till double in size.
Heat the 1 tbsp Oil and fry sliced Onions,garlic and ginger (if using) till translucent.Do not make them a golden brown as they would be charred in the oven.
Punch out the air from the dough and knead again.Knead with a stretching motion using the palms of your hands for 10 minutes and then spread out like a pizza.Now sprinkle half of the sliced Onion mixture and half of the Coriander and Mint mixture on it.Fold over and sprinkle 2 tbsp of the 1/2 cup remaining flour on top and knead again.Knead till the dough is smooth again without sticking to your hands.If desired pinches of flour can be added to even out the dough.
Pat the dough again like a pizza and fold over the ends vertically as well as horizontally like an envelope and roll into a loaf.Place the loaf int the prepared pan and sprinkle over the rest of the Onion and Coriander – Mint mixture.Cover with clingfilm and let it rest for 30 – 40 minutes till double in volume.
Before baking the bread….
After resting the bread for 15 minutes by the watch,preheat the oven to 200°C till the bread is ready for baking which is another 15 minutes.
Bake the bread till the top is a golden brown,a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and after removing from the pan the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool the bread in the pan for at least 30 minutes,take it out very carefully on a wire rack and cool for another 1 1/2 hours till it comes to room temperature.Place it in a bread bin or a basket.
Serve with butter or by itself for a delicious meal!
Treat for the eyes…
Buttering a slice..