A Leisurely Breakfast with Easy Long-Rise Bread

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This is what I try to make my typical breakfast: lots of fruit with some dairy and complex carbohydrates. I think it’s a tad heavy on the sugar, but at least the jam is homemade and the Yakult gives me some sort of lactobacteria. I slice bread only when I need it and end up lazily using the chopping board as my serving platter too.

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The bread I make is very dense and quite moist, like the German fitnessbrot I grew up eating, so it doesn’t go stale easily. It’s based on a Cooks Illustrated almost no-knead bread recipe. I’ve modified it slightly to suit my own needs. My bread is dense because my tins are non-stick, meaning that the dough doesn’t get enough grip to rise high against its walls. If you have a regular (as opposed to non-stick) metal tin, go ahead and use that instead for a lighter bread. Don’t oil the sides, if not the high temperature of the oven will turn it into a gloopy mess that takes an eternity of scrubbing to remove. And use only metal tins because you need the metal to conduct heat to get the dough hot immediately. Fear not, the rest of the process is dead easy.

As for the flour, feel free to use all plain flour or all finely ground whole wheat flour, normally sold at atta flour or chappati flour at places like Phoon Huat. As long as the flour makes up three cups, try using a bit of rye or other grains for varying taste and texture. If you don’t have whey, just use water with a few spoonfuls of milk. Or try the original recipe with a quarter cup of beer in it.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup atta chappati flour (very finely ground whole wheat)
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1¼ cup whey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Method:

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a bowl and cover with a dry towel. Leave to rise for 12 to 18 hours.
  2. Punch down the dough and knead by pushing and folding over the dough 10 times.
  3. Put into a 20 cm diameter round springform tin and allow to rise for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven 30 minutes ahead to 250°C or as hot as your oven will go.
  5. Cover the tin tightly with aluminium foil and put onto lower oven shelve. Turn down the oven to 200°C.
  6. After 3o minutes, uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. Cut and serve immediately to enjoy the crisp crust.

Makes 1 loaf.

Yogurt and Cheese

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I’m sick of buying all the yogurt crap passed off as wholesome at the supermarkets. They trumpet how yogurt has live culture and no artificial sweeteners nor colouring and how it’s got lots of calcium, but if you think about it, shouldn’t yogurt indeed have live culture in it? What’s yogurt if not for milk with live bacteria in it? Of course it shouldn’t have artificial sweeteners or colouring. For that matter, it shouldn’t have artificial flavour either, but they play it down on the packaging. Most yogurts have added stabilisers and gelling agents to set them so they don’t get too runny with the handling. And milk products are supposed to have calcium in them. Anyway, I’m not going to pay more for you to put crushed oyster shells inside. I can control my own intake of calcium with calcium tablets, which are  of course also made of crushed oyster shells, but cost much less than the calcium-fortified crap in the market. Plus, lots of them have so much sugar in them they’ve probably negated their health benefits. Think twice the next time you grab a carton of yogurt for a “healthy” snack. (That said, it’s still probably better than a pack of salty greasy crisps.)

Rant over, I try to eat real wholesome food by making my own. The trick is to start off with a small pot of store-bought yogurt. I don’t think you want to leave milk out to catch “natural” bacteria in the air. Like is like a box of chocolates, you never know what kind of tummy ailment you could get from rogue natural bacteria. Get a pot of plain natural yogurt instead. Read the label to check that it only has milk and live culture, perhaps some cream too. If you’re unlucky, you’ll probably get something with milk solids and stabilisers, but that should be about all you should tolerate.

Now let’s get to the milk bit. If you’re not worried about your weight, go for full fat milk. That’s about 4% fat. It’ll make for a thicker yogurt. If not, use low-fat milk (2%) which makes it runnier. Don’t worry if you want it thicker, you’ll just have to strain it. (That bit will come later.) Let’s get on with the recipe.

Ingredients:

600 ml milk
1 small pot yogurt

Method:

  1. Heat the milk gently in a saucepan. Turn off the when bubbles just start to form at the surface. Leave to cool.
  2. Transfer the yogurt to a container with lid and when the milk is still warm to the touch, stir it slowly into the yogurt.
  3. Cover and leave in a warm part of the kitchen out of the sun till set. About two hours for full-fat milk, up to half a day for low-fat milk.

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After the yogurt is done, you can eat it as is or strain it for a thicker set towards the Greek yogurt style or even drain it completely to get something the cook books call yogurt cheese. It’s actually a lot like cream cheese. If you use low fat milk I imagine it wouldn’t be too high in fat, though remember that after draining away all the whey, you’re retaining most of the fat in the solids, so it’ll be more like 20% (vague approximation, I’m not geek enough to calculate exactly) or so fat now.

Yogurt separates out into curds and whey if you leave it standing for a while, so the liquid layer is the whey and the white creamy stuff is the curd. Drain for an hour in the cheesecloth to get Greek-style yogurt and three hours to overnight in the fridge to get yogurt cheese. Here’s my setup for draining the yogurt.

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Try spreading the yogurt cheese on bread. It tastes great either on its own or with jam. Or you could stir some jam into the Greek-style yogurt. Mmm-licious!

A note on the whey: not for the lactose intolerant. Whey is super high in lactose. Use it to make bread (recipe coming up) or try drinking it if you can deal with the lactose.