Rapidly approaching thirty, I find myself wanting to weave mementos of my past with my present self to move forward into the vast unknown that is the future. Much of this is currently stemming from food. My latest creation is an attempt to make bread like Grandma (a nearly impossible task!) with a twist, a flavour introduced by Indian cooking that I picked up at the market.
The market is a narrow store in an old strip mall off of 183 in Austin. I’ve been to a couple other places that carry middle-eastern and Indian fare, but they were a little smaller. This particular market also has freshly prepared snacks, prepared by the owner’s wife. The catch is getting there before everyone else and they are all gone… unless you venture to make it at home.
Being the adventurous midnite chef, I bought a packet of ajwain seeds. I already had made samosas without them and needed to try them again with the proper ingredients. But that would have to wait! Nostalgia won me over, it was calling me to bake bread.
Yield: 1 loaf or 2 individual loaves suitable as a bread course
1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110 deg C)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed ajwain seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt (Mexican sea salt is what I used)
2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour (King Arthur non-bleached bread flour)
Proof the yeast in the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add a small amount of flour, then the regular salt and ajwain seeds. Mix slightly to incorporate. Add another half cup of flour at a time to quickly stir the dough together.
Knead for 5 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes. Lightly grease a bowl to put the dough to rise in a draft free place like the oven. Knead 2 or 3 more minutes, only add a skiff of flour to prevent sticking while kneading.
Leave the dough to rise and double in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down the dough and divide in half for two plate-side rolls, or shape into a long oval. Place on a baking sheet with corn meal (I used masa flour which worked out well) to prevent the bread from adhering itself to the pan. Cut slashes on the top of the dough and brush with cold water. Sprinkle with the sea salt. (After thought… egg whites would have helped the sea salt stick on a bit better. I mushed the salt into the surface of the dough to help it stay put.)
Place the pan into a cold oven along with a pan of really hot boiling water. Crank up the oven to 400F and set your timer for 25 minutes. Check on the bread after 25 minutes, the two individual loaves will obviously bake in less time than one loaf. The result should look like this…
A crusty exterior, hollow sounding when tapped, and smells like bread!
My son loves grilled cheese sandwhiches, and I made some for him with thin slices of the ajwain bread. They were a hit 🙂