Breaking Bread with Friends - The Indian Food Bloggers meet & a recipe for Pain d'Epi
AAAH.. Summer holidays, the kids are out of school and my home looks like it gets hit by a daily tornado, that somehow magically manifests itself 2 1/2 minutes after I clear up a spot. On the bright side, The farmstands are all open with a bounty of fresh 'just picked' sun kissed produce. And, as my 8 year old phrases it, 'Mommy's going cuckoo about vegetables'. I need to keep him in my good books, since he is grown to be a valuable culinary consultant, with a near perfect sense of taste and flavors combinations.
Food seems to have drummed into me an alternate deep meaning to the term 'Home Sweet Home'. My vegetable patch (over ridden with weeds and seeds of plants that survived the intense winter last year) is almost like a pet that I look forward to taking care of every day, and there is a real tangible reward, a handful of strawberries, a couple of cucumber for the day's salad.
Emotional attachment to the vegetable path makes it all the more harder to go on a short vacation, because I just know that a part of me is going to be thinking constantly at the daily harvests I'll be missing out on. But the bonus here is that I will be meeting up with some wonderful, talented bloggers from the Indian subcontinent. Yes, I will be attending the very first Indian Food Blogger's Meet in Bangalore, India early next month, and I have my cards from Moo.com all ready!
This stellar effort is being coordinated by Aparna Balasubramanian (My Diverse Kitchen), Arundhati Rao (Culinary Escapades), Nandita Iyer of Saffron Trail and Revati Upadhya of Hungry & Excited.
There are plenty of informative sessions & workshops planned over the course of two days, and I'm excited enough to actually say that my little kitchen garden may be moved to the back of my brain for that period of time! Especially looking forward to meeting Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, whose recipe for a Date loaf, I've been craving for way too long!
Well, in the spirit of meeting old friends & making new ones, today's recipe is for a a bread, a rustic Epi. The bread was cobbled from multiple recipes, a bit from here , a bit from there with some of my carefully jotted improvisations in between. My son wolfed his way through a whole loaf by the end of the day. After all, he did suggest the rosemary & flaked sea salt addition.
I used Biga (pre ferment) from a recipe for this months 'We knead to bake' project and combined it with another adjusted quantities from a recipe from Yum sugar. Since the Biga was already made using bread flour, I decided to continue with that instead of using All purpose flour. The result was a chewy satisfying bread which wasn't exactly a sourbread, but had some of the tang.
Pain d'Epi with Rosemary & flaked sea salt. (Makes 3 loaves)You need:
For the Biga (Pre ferment)
3/4 cups Bread flour
1/4 - 1/3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
For the bread
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup warm water (plus extra if you need)
Milk for brushing
Maldon flaked sea salt (or any other similar salt of your choice)
Combine the flour, milk and the yest for the Biga in a bowl. mix well with a wooden spoon, cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest overnight at room temperature. If you don't plan to make the bread the next day, refrigerate. The Biga stays viable for about 2 days. Just make sure that you bring it to room temperature before using.
The next day, combine the bread flour, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Keep the machine running and add the biga in small bits, allowing each piece to incorporate with the flour before adding the next. Once the Biga has been mixed in gradually add the water. Keep the machine running on a medium low speed and allow the mixture to combine into a smooth ball of dough that does not stick to the bowl. If the dough appears 'feathered' (little bits fraying), add a bit of water to allow the dough to shape itself into a smooth ball. Transfer the dough into a bowl cover and allow to proof for about an hour. The dough would have doubled in size by this time.
Transfer the dough onto a working surface and divide into three equal parts and shape each one into a smooth ball.
Using the palm of your hands roll one of the balls of dough into a cylindrical roll about a foot long.
Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors make 2 deep cuts at a 45 degree angle snipping the dough to about 1/4 inch from the base. Gently turn the piece of dough to the left forming a 'leaf'. Continue making parallel cuts alternating the pieces of dough to opposite sides. The end result should look like an ear of wheat.
Place the shaped loaves on a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush with milk and sprinkle the rosemary and salt over the surface, gently patting it down to 'embed into the leaf.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow the loaves to proof in a warm spot for about an hour.
Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top surface turns a golden brown in color. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm with fresh butter, cheese or jam. (or just rip the leaves off and scarf them down straight up!)
|My favorite way is to smear the rolls with Brie or Camembert cheese and Fig preserves.|
Remember that these loaves have no oil or fat to retain their moisture. They will become stale pretty quickly if left out in the open. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a freezer for long term storage, and thaw out when the craving strikes.