Italian Herbs and Cheese Bread – One rise, quick bread!

Rustic , Hearty and truly a family share bread!

Italian Herbs and Cheese Bread – One rise, quick bread! #VRBakealong 

There is something alluring about fresh-baked bread. And when baked at home sans all the preservatives, it’s just wonderful. The smell of it wafting is enough to salivate the toughest critic’s taste buds. Or just to make one feel happy. This is one version of a herbed bread that makes you want to grab a slice after another. A mix of cultures in the bread I say, Italian seasoning, Mexican cheese blend, and a dash of our very own ground black pepper with the occasional sizzle of red pepper flakes. Go on , try it out and let me know 

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour (atta) : 1.5 cups
  • All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups
  • Instant yeast : Red Start quick rise , 1 packet
  • Sugar : 3 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp.
  • Olive oil : 3 Tbsp.
  • Black pepper ground : 1 tsp.
  • Italian herbs mix (dried) : 2 tsp.
  • Red pepper flakes : 1/2 tsp. (optional)
  • Milk ( 2%) : 1/2 cup
  • Warm water : 1 cup ( add in stages )
  • Mexican cheese blend grated : 1/2 – 1 cup ( depending on how cheesy you like it)

METHOD

Proofing the yeast:

Typically in instant kind of quick yeast you do not need to proof the yeast. But in this case I did so because I just needed to ensure my yeast was well alive and kicking!

  • Warm the milk with 1/2 cup of water and the sugar. Just ensure the mix is very very warm.
  • To this I added the instant rapid rise yeast , stirred gently and set aside, You will notice the bubbles in about 5-8 min Let the yeast do the job for about 10-12 min. The frothy mix indicates it is a happy camper and ready to work on your bread!

 The dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, sieve together the atta ( I used our very own swaad chakki fresh atta ) and APF and salt.
  • Add in the ground pepper and dries herbs mix.
  • Add in the red pepper flakes if using.
  • Add in the grated cheese and then the olive oil. Mix evenly.
  • Now add water, milk mixture and knead for about 5 – 8 minutes. The dough should be very soft. Add more warm water if needed.
  • I worked this on the one rise principle. Rapid rise yeast typically do not need the punch and re-knead process. If using active dry yeast place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth for about an hour or till the dough becomes double in size. Punch the dough to remove all the air trapped in it and re-knead again for 5-10 minutes. You will end up with a soft pliable dough. If in doubt do the windowpane test for it. However, I used rapid rise instant yeast that does not require this process of re kneading.
  • Grease a baking tray.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
  • Make 2 long log rolls.
  • Braid them together loosely to give the twisted feel.
  • Cover with a damp cheese cloth, kitchen towel and place it in a warm draft free zone  and let it rise for about an hour max. Mine rose in about 45 min to a beautiful double proportion.
  • Bake at 375 deg F for about 30 min. ( give or take another 5 min based on the variables -the flour used, the kind of year, the milk etc.)
  • When you notice the top becoming a nice and even brown, and when you tap the bread pan or the the sides of the bread you get the hollow sound, its done!
  • Set it out to cool !

(Seriously the sight was enough to set my kids were drooling!!!)

 Serving:

On cooling, slice, add a dab of butter or cream cheese and its wonderful for your palate. This bread is moist and slightly dense echoing a bit of the whole wheat breads you get. But this will hold wonderfully to toasting. It’s very light on the cheese effect too as I added just half a cup.But seriously you can add more than a cup that is called for and you will notice the difference. At that time it’s a bit more indulgent I would say. The herbs and the pepper lend their flavor and this is so perfect with your pasta. Or just by itself !

Thought : Shape it into mini logs and you have your very own subway style bread ready to be made into a delectable sandwich!

Shelf Life : I would not expect this last very long as it is made without any preservatives. In any case this would last a mere couple of days at home for me πŸ™‚

Thandai Chai Masala Eggless Cake – Of Friendship, Gossip and More!

Ever wonder how some people just cross paths for a reason.. Or for no reason! When we first moved to NC, we left behind a horde of family and friends in California. Sunny California and the Bay area was teeming with our friends, family, friends of family and family of our friends.. (You get  the drift)

I thought I loved people ( well most of them anyways πŸ™‚ ) and then I meet DH and his family . They simply dwarfed mine. These guys seriously loved people and people seriously loved them. We just became one big crazy family.. Crazy alright !!

The move therefore while we welcomed it, definitely created a pang in our hearts. So just about 2 months of our moving into this new neighborhood in a new state all the way on the opposite coast, a lady in a min-van filled with chirpy kids stopped my MIL on the street , welcomed her home for chai – a cup of tea and some company. My MIL, though could not take up on it but I happened to meet this lady , our neighbor soon thereafter and so began a wonderful friendship.

 Here’s a toast to one of the finest to have crossed ( and stayed in) my path!

“Dear SP, you are one heck of woman ! I love your chai addiction, your margarita madness and your steadfast company!  Filled with many moments of laughter, lunches, crazy talks and some more crazy moments – or shall I say sparkling moments of insobriety.. Dialing in thin air and holding conversations to yourself, monologues and more… You go girl!

While I did want to bake a chai cake ( I promise, I will do it soon), I experimented this on a lark and got to combine your favorite flavors of chai masala and Thandai ..

Happy Happy Birthday Dear SP and please have your “Queen” moment soon.. For I cannot wait to witness it !”

( This recipe is an amalgamation and innovation of a recipe from ED site  and my eggless recipe cake)

Chai Masala Thandai Spice Cake Ingredients:

  • Self rising APF : 2 cups
  • Non-Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk : 14 oz can
  • Butter : 1/2 cup  (Melted)
  • Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp
  • 1% Milk : 1 cup
  • Thandai masala : 1 tsp
  • Chai Masala : 1 tsp
  • Saffron : crushed, a few strands
  • Walnuts: 1/2 cup chopped 

Method:

  • Preheat the overn to 350 deg F.  Spay oil  and dust flour on the pan of your choice. I used a 9 inch round pan for this.
  • Sift the APF and Baking Soda together
  • Dry whisk it with Thandai Masala, Chai Masala and Saffron  Strands
  • Melt the 1/2 cup of butter and add it in along with the milk and condensed milk.
  • Stir it in gently so the flour is completely incorporated.
  • Now add in half the chopped walnuts in this and stir it in.
  • Add in the batter into the pan.
  • Add in the rest of the chopped walnuts – sprinkle on the surface
  • Bake it in the oven for 35 min or so at 350 deg F.

 Notes:

Please keep an eye on the oven as the quality of the flour and materials used could cause slight variations in the baking time.

Mine took about 38 min to bake. In hindsight, I think I should have reduced the temp from 350 to 325 midway during the baking  process. I have read that this would ensure more even baking .

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