I’ve been on a bread baking binge. Fueled by my success with Easter Bun, I stocked up on flour determined to try different types of bread. Starting with Robin Hood’s Basic White Bread. My, oh my. What a revelation. I do believe I’ve found a new hobby.
The marvel in making regular bread is that it rises so much more than sweet bread. Twice as high and twice as fast. The first time I peeked under the tea towel I was surprised at how much the dough had risen. After de-gassing and reshaping into loaves, it rised again. Twice as high and twice as fast as Easter bun. Why is that ?
Yeast loves sugar but too much sugar inhibits growth. Easter Bun has a full cup of sugar while a Basic White has 2 tablespoons. To compensate, Easter Bun uses 6 teaspoons of Active Yeast while Basic uses 2 1/4 teaspoons. Even so, the rise in the sweet bread takes longer and is not nearly as high. This is not to disparage – the appeal of real Jamaican bun is its dense, sweet chew, its full toothesome goodness, its spicy complement to buttery cheese … hmm, where was I …
Bread making is different from cake making. I make cakes regularly and am comfortable in whipping up butter cakes, sponges, muffins, etc. I’ve always stayed away from real breads, scared off by the finickiness of yeast and the long yeild times. Plus there’s a whole mystique about the craft which is quite intimidating. For instance, I bought Jeffrey Hamelman’s book on “Bread – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.” After flipping through the first eight pages on just mixing the flour, I hastily closed the tome and moved on. It took a wave of nostalgia for Easter bun (and inability to purchase in Singapore ) for me to try making it by hand. Luckily this time, four years later, it worked.
Robin Hood has a delightfully straightforward recipe for Basic White Bread. Here is my variation for a Whole Grain version.
WHOLEGRAIN WHEAT BREAD
½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
½ cup warm water
2 tbs butter
3 tbs molasses
1 ½ tsp salt
4 ½ cup bread flour
1 cup wholegrain flour
Proof yeast in ½ c water & 1 tsp sugar
Mix milk, water, butter, molasses & salt
Add 2 cups bread flour with yeast. Mix in the remaining bread and wholegrain flour. Knead for 5 mins.
Rest in lightly greased bowl for 1 hour under parchment & tea towel.
When doubled, place on lightly floured board anc cut into two pieces. Use your fingers to press into a rectangle and remove the excess air (de-gas). Shape the loaves by rolling into a tight roll and placing into 2 floured loaf tins (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ or 1.5L). Cover with tea towel and rise 1 hour.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
Brush with butter for a soft crust. Makes 2 loaves.