Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bread Blogathon contd. - Peter Reinhart's Transitional Whole Wheat Bread

Where bread making is concerned, I have these weeks of feverish enthusiasm where I want to try one bread after another, and then all of a sudden everything else seems to take priority and I just take a long break from it ;). So well, a couple of weeks back I was back to this feverish stage, and I tried three different types of bread in quick succession.

Though I had stopped buying books after moving over to the Kindle, where cookbooks are concerned I really miss the lovely colourful photos when viewing on the Kindle. And thanks to the sale on Flipkart, I have started building up a bit of a collection. Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads was a book I picked up at full price a few months ago though, and was a bit overwhelmed by the information he has given on not just the technique but the fundas as well. I took it up once again, determined to get a hang of it this time, and ended up trying this transitional bread, which is 50% WW and 50% APF or Maida. His technique involves a 2 day process, but very little actual involved "doing" time. It's just that little bit of extra preparation to do some steps the previous day, and leave it in the fridge or room temperature as required. It is a looong recipe, so I will not be writing all the minute details here. In case you feel something major is missed out, do let me know in the comments and I'll try to fill in the gaps.

Soaker:
1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour (227 gms)
1/2 tsp salt (4 gms)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp Milk, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Soy Milk, or Rice Milk (I used buttermilk)


  1. Mix all of the soaker ingredients in a bowl for about 1 minute, until it forms a ball. (I used my KitchenAid stand mixer to mix it). 
  2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. If you need to leave it for longer, you can put it in the fridge and use within 3 days. If refrigerated, remember to take out a couple of hours before you need to use it.


Biga:
1 3/4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour (227 gms) - I used Maida and added 1 tbsp gluten to it to substitute for bread flour, next time will be trying plain maida to check the difference.
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Filtered water at room temperature.


  1. Mix all of the biga ingredients in a bown until it forms a ball. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to ensure the ingredients are all well mixed. It should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then knead again with wet hands for 1 minute, it will become smoother but still be tacky.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Remove from fridge about 2 hours before mixing final dough.


For final dough (Day 2):
Use all of soaker and biga
3 1/2 tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
5/8 tsp Salt
2 1/4 Instant Yeast
2 1/4 tbsp honey or agave nectar (or) 3 tbsp sugar or brown sugar - I used honey
1 tbsp unsalted butter or vegetable oil - I used oil
3 1/2 tbsp extra WW flour for adjustments


  1. Place the soaker on top of the biga (in circular shape) and using a metal pastry scraper, chop into 12 smaller pieces (pizza style). Combine these pieces along with all the other ingredients above (except the extra flour), and knead well for 2 minutes. If using a stand mixer, you can mix with the paddle attachment on slow speed until it forms a ball, and then use the dough hook to knead further. Add more flour or water until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
  2. Knead until the dough doesn't feel sticky. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, and then knead again until the gluten is strengthened and the windowpane test is passed. Form into a ball and leave in a well oiled bowl to rise in a warm place. In about 45-60 minutes it should rise to 1 1/2 times its original size.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a loaf pan shape. Place into a greased 4 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan and leaf covered to rise. In 45-60 minutes it should have risen to 1 1/2 times the original size.
  4. Preheat oven to 218 degrees C,  during the second rise. When ready to bake, place loaf pan in oven and lower temperature to 177 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate and then bake for 20-30 minutes until you see a rich brown colour and the internal temperature of the loaf is 91 degrees C (This is a great indication for bread loaves, else it was always tough for me to assess). If you feel the top is burning too soon, cover with aluminium foil and continue baking.
  5. Transfer to cooling rack and cool for at least an hour before serving.


And now you know why I was lazy to take up writing down this recipe on the blog ;). The actual doing though is not all that tough.. the steps go by quite quickly. And yes, here was what the loaf finally looked like :):

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It was Movie Week :)

We've had quite a few movie starved years, to most viewings limited to what's on TV. In the last couple of years, we managed to go for a few animated kids movies, and the occasional "grown-up" one too, but this week was a refreshing change. With hubby spending some time at home, we managed to catch a couple of morning shows.

Singam II - A total masala and action packed flick, carried totally on the shoulders of the able Suriya. I must say I went in with exactly this expectation and thoroughly enjoyed myself :). There are very few tamil movies that I manage to watch in the theatre so this was quite a treat, and I enjoyed every punchline and every exaggerated fight sequence! Once upon a time, I used to turn up my nose at "violent" movies, and considering that the last tamil movie I saw was Viswaroopam (a total gore-fest), how we seem to change with the times ;). Mentioning the heroines as an afterthought, because they nearly were that in the movie - Hansika Motwani actually had a meatier role than the continuing heroine from the first movie, Anushka Shetty. The usual sudden song sequences and grinding hips were very much present as well :).

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - It helps sometimes to be a bit vague and unaware of the stories of famous people like Milkha Singh, because it made the movie that much more enjoyable for me. I guess for someone who read up or already knew his history before going into the movie, it might seem a bit slow moving at times. But in my case, I was completely riveted by the story, and needless to mention Farhan Akhtar as well. In this case, the story completely justified it being a complete hero-oriented movie, but I was still quite surprised by the length of Sonam Kapoor's role. I was also waiting during the movie credits on a few lines about what Milkha Singh was doing after the happenings in the movie (English movie ishtyle I guess), but that never happened.

Talaash - This one was on TV last night, and we never managed to catch it in the theatre when it was playing of course, so I determinedly sat and watched it until 12 o'clock. And had to go a little "huh?!" at the final twist part. I need to elaborate here, and JUST in case someone actually wants to see this one later, do not scroll down...
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I mean, seriously "Sixth Sense" style?!! My mind refused to take in the whole supernatural twist, though of course that was the tagline of the movie and I should have realized something like this was coming I suppose. No wonder this one did not have a great box office showing, though disappointed that one of my favourite actors was stuck with this storyline.

Forgot to mention, I also liked the fact that none of these movies were 3-D!! Lately it seems like every movie we've been to, has been with those glasses on, and the charm has worn off a bit for me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Orange Rhino Challenge

This one's been lying in my drafts for a few weeks now, so I thought it was high time it saw the light of day.

It started with this post I came across on Facebook, and also shared on my timeline to much discussion :)
https://www.facebook.com/apster.george/posts/10151481637494164?notif_t=like

Soon after that I visited the Orange Rhino page and read many more of her blog posts. I just felt a big connection to her writing, and her straightforwardness in expressing her shortcomings. I was nodding my head to so much of the stuff she said, such as this Ode to the Moms I shall never be. I also liked the fact that she set realistic goals, and encourages everyone to do the same. It's not about taking it on for a year like her, you can try a week, a month or even not count at all if that works better for you.

She had a recent 30 day challenge, not so much a no-yelling challenge as a preparation on how to start the journey. Well I read the emails, agreed to everything but somehow feel an inertia to just say "Here I am, starting off now!". Still pretty much at the introspection stage and wondering how to go about it, but here are some thoughts.

  • There are degrees of yelling, and I don't consider just raising my voice as a bad thing to do. It is only the times when I feel hyperventilated, blood rushing to my head that I know it's crossed the line, at least in my eyes.
  • No yelling does NOT mean no disciplining. As a generation of parents, I think we (and by that I mean many others ;)) let our kids get away with a little too much. Kids will be kids, yes, but there are absolute no-nos and basic behavioural stuff that I will not condone. In such situations, if some degree of yelling is called for (again not the type mentioned above), so be it.
  • In most situations where the worst type of yelling happens, there is nearly ALWAYS a secondary reason involved - a headache, a missed deadline, a fight with the better half. So most times it is a question of stopping and thinking, now if only I can remember that an instant before the yell!
  • Involving the kids can be embarrassing (Ma, but you said no yelling!) but effective I think, so that's definitely in my plan.
Can't delay the inevitable much more, so here goes. Announcing to the blogosphere and my friends and  family reading this, that tomorrow shall be Day 1. I'm sure many updates shall be coming up on "restarted" Day 1s so watch this space ;).