Reminiscing Europe: Freshly Baked Loaves of Bread

What do I miss most about Europe apart from the wonderful weather? The bread. There is just something about the loaves of bread I had while traveling the continent last year. The crisp cracking sound of the bread as you bite into it, and the moist and soft texture of the insides – you could eat the bread just on its own, but spreading a little butter and jam seemed like heaven on earth to me. When I got home, I knew my standard of quality for good bread has gone off the roof. I’ve tried buying bread from local bakeries and even the upscale ones in the heart of expat living here in Singapore. Sadly, none of them satisfied my extremely decadent tastebuds. In local speak, the European bread I had spoil market for the bread made locally.

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My friend, Shireen, has an amazing mother who makes bread almost every weekend. We call her Ahjumma Shima, partly because she love her Korean dramas and also that is her Instagram handle. If you want to see pictures of lovely bread filling your instagram feed, do follow her @ahjumma_shima. Each time she uploads a picture, I almost lick my phone screen call her up for the recipe.

bread-2

While in Paris, I had the chance to attend two baking courses with La Cuisine Paris; a macaron baking workshop as well as a baguette and boulangerie workshop. The chef taught us to make bread using fresh yeast, so as usual, I had to substitute the finest ingredients for mediocre ones. Le sigh. Anyhoos, this bread recipe is pretty amazing, and I’m glad it worked really well for me. I am one who usually has no patience to wait when it comes to food (yes yes is it so hard to believe haha). I had to distract myself while waiting for the bread to rise by watching Big Bang Theory (of which I tend to scare my mother with the occasional bursts of laughter). I got this recipe from An Oregon Cottage. I could not find whole wheat flour, so I used whole wheat German rye flour instead. Still tastes awesome!

Now wait. I’m beginning to think this German rye flour is the secret to delicious bread…

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Wholewheat Soft Bread (Makes 2 loaves)

  • 6 to 6-1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I used wholewheat German rye flour)
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water (don’t use hot water! it kills the yeast!
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten- aka bread improver (you can omit this)
  1. Combine water, yeast and 2 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl. Set aside to sponge for 15 minutes.
  2. Add honey, oil, salt, (gluten if using), and 4 cups of flour. Mix until dough starts to clean sides of bowl. Change to dough hook (or turn out to knead by hand), and knead 6 to 7 minutes (10 by hand). Add only tablespoons of flour if dough sticks to sides, being careful not to add too much.
  3. Form into two loaves and place in greased 9×5″ pans. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes (1-2 inches above pans). Preheat oven to 350 ten minutes before rising time is done.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through if needed.
  5. Immediately remove from pans to cool on a rack.
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