Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bonkers for Bread

I have to admit that one of the hardest parts of moving to Thailand was saying farewell all my favorite foods. Hummus, pizza, pasta, chocolate, cheese and wine (is it sad that i count it as a food group?). I was however pleasantly surprised when i moved to Nakhon to discover that they sell mainland vintage cheddar and Edam in the supermarket here as well as Australian wines (horrible but better than nothing). I nearly jumped had a seizure of pure delight when i was taken to 'Italian Man' the EXCELLENT Italian restaurant (run by a real Italian and thus the name the Teachers have given the place) which serves beautiful salads, perfect pastas and most importantly thin crust, traditional pizzas. Thanks to the girls here I have sussed out the places that sell good (imported) chocolate and even found some good (ish) icecream.
All in all not too bad. When i get sick of Thai there is plenty of other cuisines to try - we're actually having Indian tonight, yum. On the downside my weight loss regime is not going as well as i thought it would, simply because in Thailand i can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.

The only thing that i find is really lacking is the coffee (they add sugar syrup and condensed milk - ICK!) and the bread. Bread in Thailand is very sugary and fluffy but not in a good way. It doesn't seem to have any nutritional value to it at all. I really miss having a good piece of sourdough with jam, or vegemite, some crusty bread to dip in my soup or wipe up some balsamic and oil. I've only made bread a few times but each time i have enjoyed both the process and the eating. I think it's time ot get back into it.
Making multigrain bread at Pun Pun Farm in North Thailand 2010

It turned out really well, i used it to wipe up my leftover pesto  which we also made from scratch along with the pasta. YUM!

I was cruising the internet looking for easy bread recipes and I found this fantastic, and yummy sounding recipe for Polenta Loaf and I'd like to give it a try (cooking it in someone's toaster oven should be interesting).

Polenta Bread

3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup finely ground, quick-cooking Italian polenta, plus more for baking sheet
2 tsp. quick-rise yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups warm tap water
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the 1/2 cup polenta, the yeast and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir to mix well.

Add the warm water and olive oil and stir until all of the flour has been absorbed and a dough has formed.

Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough until soft and elastic and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.
Work more flour into the dough if needed to reduce stickiness; be sure to keep the work surface well floured. The dough should remain in a rounded shape and not flatten out when left on a work surface for a minute or two. If not, work a little more flour into the dough. Place the dough in a warmed, lightly oiled bowl, turning several times to coat it with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 75 minutes.

Sprinkle a little polenta on a baking sheet and set aside. Punch down the dough, return it to the lightly floured work surface and knead a few times.
Form the dough into a round ball or an oval shape and place on the prepared baking sheet. The dough should retain its shape and not flatten out.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
While the dough is rising, position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 220°C.
When the dough has risen, using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife or single-edge razor blade, carefully make a slash 1/2 inch deep across the top. Brush the surface with the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C and continue to bake until golden and crusty, 30 to 35 minutes more.
Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool. Makes 1 round or oval loaf; serves 6 to 8.

Doesn't that sound yum yum yummy! I'm sure i can get yeast here but polenta might be harder (hint hint friends who like to post care packages)

While we're on the subject of bread, i am going to make my own sourdough starter and see how i go with that. I found a wonderful site and what looks like an interesting recipe so i'll keep you posted. (for the starter recipe)

Happy baking, unitl next time.

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