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08/ 14 / 2015

STUART'S BREAD - MY ENGLISH UNCLE

Bread! Who can resist it, especially if it has come right out of the oven? With jam or butter it’s irresistible! I have been a huge fan of this delicious English recipe that my uncle’s family has passed down to our family. When my aunt Maria Helena lived in England, her mother-in-law taught her how to make this bread. But, we first ate it at my mum’s house and it was made by my uncle. This amazing freshly-baked-bread-smell has always filled our home. It’s very light and fluffy, and besides that, very nutritious! This is an English recipe, but I came up with some variations to change it a little bit. So, I added some seeds or nuts and, at the end it looked like German bread! I am really into these cultural exchanges, especially if they happen in the gastronomic world... Every time I travel and make new friends, I ask for a recipe of a typical dish of their country and I end up in markets, looking for the ingredients so as to make it when I’m back to Brazil! In my opinion, there is no better present to bring to your family or friends than the flavors of the country you visited. A funny story of my uncle here in Brazil was when my grandma absolutely forbade her children from eating hot cake, and he was devastated because that was the thing he liked doing most in his native country...But, who can understand people’s minds???? Well, the amount of bread was multiplied in this batch, but that was on purpose! My aunts from Campo Grande - MS (Brazil) were in Campinas and that meant a lot of chatting, a lot of hands and finally the best part was that we exchanged recipes, which to me, couldn’t be more enriching. Usually, when we are surrounded by people, we gain strength and that was how we faced the pizza oven in order to bake some bread. But, keep cool because bread also becomes really tasteful if baked in a regular oven, which is the kind of oven we have always had at home. I like simple kinds of bread. On the day before baking them, I told my husband what we were going to do and he said: "It would be really great if you stuffed it with calabrese sausages!” I, the beloved wife, replied: "Of course not! We are not a branch of Braz Pizzerie!” Jokes apart, I told my mom what he had said, and, believe it or not, she made him some wonderful bread stuffed with calabrese sausages!

HOMEMADE SEEDED BREAD

 

          Total time: 3 - 31/2  hours                               Makes: 4 loaves

 

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

- ½ cup warm water

- fresh yeast (30 grams)

- 2 tablespoons refined sugar, sifted

- ½ cup plain flour, sifted

For the dough:

- 1 ½ cups bulgur wheat (255 grams)

- 3 cups water

- 1 cup skimmed milk

- 3 tablespoons oil

- 2 tablespoons honey

- 1 tablespoon refined sugar, sifted

- 1 tablespoon salt

- 1 egg, at room temperature

- 50 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

- ½ cup sunflower seeds, optional (65 grams)

- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, optional (70 grams)

- 1 kg 150 grams plain flour, sifted,  plus extra for dusting

Mixture to brush the loaves:

- ½ cup coffee

- ½ tablespoon olive oil

 

 

Method:

1. For the sponge: In a large mixing bowl, dissolve fresh yeast with a fork. Then add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Mix well and let stand for 20-30 minutes to turn into a sponge. You will see that the mixture will increase in size and get bubbly;

 

2. Next, put the bulgur wheat into a pan; add 3 cups water and let cook until the water has completely dried out. When the wheat is warm, add butter, oil, egg, milk, sugar, salt and honey. Mix all the ingredients, leave to cool and reserve;

 

3. Add the mixture of the bulgur wheat with the other ingredients to the same bowl of sponge. Slowly add the sifted plain flour. When the dough has come together as a loose lump, tip it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and silky. Put it into a bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least to double in size;

 

4. Or make a very small ball with a piece of dough and put in a glass of water. When the ball goes up, the dough will be ready to be worked (about 40 minutes);

 

5. Next, knead the dough again. Divide the dough into four pieces and shape into round balls. Place the dough on the baking tray and leave to rise (40-50 minutes). Then, cut a cross on top of each one with a sharp knife. As a parameter for rising, make again a very small ball with a piece of dough and put in a glass of water. When the ball goes up or is doubled in size, the dough will be ready to be baked;

 

6. When the dough is ready, bake in preheated oven to 180°C, 35-40 minutes, until the loaves are golden in colour or sound hollow when tapped on the base;

 

7. Make some coffee (1/2 cup) and mix with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. In the final 5 minutes of baking remove them from the oven and brush this mixture of coffee with oil over the loaves and return them to the oven. This procedure will allow your crust to be soft and tender. Cool on a wire rack;

 

8. Store the loaves into tightly sealed containers so they do not become dry and hard. When I eat them on the following days, I like to cut slices and warm them into the microwave for 30 seconds. In this way, they will taste just as if they had come right out of the oven! 

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