Bread making has always been a daunting thought. My Mom has offered, on many occasions, to buy me a bread machine but I’ve always turned it down, afraid of the expectations! That doesn’t stop the subject from being fascinating in a very I’m-terrified-but-can’t-stop-thinking-about-it way!
I know the picture above doesn’t say much in terms of the room full of gorgeous bread that I had always envisioned. But, in my defense, the bread was a bit of an accident. I was actually making pizza dough (recipe here) when I realised that the yeast had not activated.
It wasn’t the first time I had faced this problem, but went ahead to make a sub-standard pizza anyway. But this time I didn’t. I bought a fresh packet of yeast and re-made the pizza dough and decided I would trash the ruined dough.
While chatting with my friend Revati during the day, I mentioned the problem. She has recently ventured into bread-making herself and she asked me if I had stored the yeast in the fridge. I obviously had never thought about that. It makes perfect logical sense, knowing that the yeast would feed off warm humid weather like ours! Despite the furious re-sealing of the packet and chip-clipping it to high heaven, the yeast didn’t survive the weather and essentially de-activated. So valuable lesson learned. If you live in India, you shall store the yeast in a clean glass jar in the fridge at all times. You shall not forget it on the counter ever again.
Anyhow, instead of throwing the dough away, I decided to bake it nevertheless. So I did for about 40 minutes, in a 9″ loaf pan, in a pre-heated oven at 250C and this is what I got. It was dense and slightly chewy, but bread nevertheless!
To make it more palatable, I decided I would use PW’s Right Way of Making Cinammon Toast method. Making it crisp-er, sugary-er and cinnamon-y could only improve it, right? (You need not bake a ruined or accidental loaf of bread to make this delicious cinnamon toast. Using a nice, store-bought, pre-sliced loaf of sandwich bread would do just as well!)
So here’s what I did for dessert last night! Pre-heated the oven to 250C. I sliced some of the bread into 6 slices. They were about the thickness of Biscotti. Actually, the more I think about it, this was exactly like Biscotti – bake a cake, slice it up and bake further to crisp up like a thick toast!! (Actual Biscotti recipe here).
Then I made the butter-y spreads. Plain (to be topped with Apricot preserve after baking), Cinnamon & Chocolate.
I took 2 small bowls and added 1 tbsp powdered sugar & 1 tbsp softened butter into each and mixed it up. Added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in each and mixed it up too.This was the basic plain spread.
Then I thought that there’s too much butter for my 2 slices and not enough for AK’s 4 slices! So I transferred some from my bowl into his. I’m a loving wife that way.
Then I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon in mine (since AK doesn’t like cinnamon – I hope you’re sensing a pattern here). Spread this nice and thick on my 2 slices.
I spread the plain vanilla butter (from AK’s bowl) on 2 slices.
Then added 1 tsp cocoa powder to the balance butter and spread that on 2 slices.
Placing them on cookie sheet,I baked them in the middle of the pre-heated oven (bottom coil only) for about 10 minutes. Then I turned on the top coil/ broiler and moved the rack to the top and left the slices in for another 3 minutes!
This gave me deliciously baked slices, into which the thick layer of butter had melted and sunk in. The last 3 minutes caramelised the top and made it crunchy on top and moist in the middle!
I spread some apricot preserve on the plain slices and voila!
The best part about this is that it is so very adaptable. Just take equal quantities of butter & sugar (volume-wise) and whisk it up. Add any kind of flavouring or additives, spread and bake! Use 1 tbsp of mixture per slice of bread (I used a little less as I had less surface area with these biscotti sized ones).
You can add chopped & melted chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon, lemon or orange rind, vanilla or any other packaged essence as well. Even Nutella or Peanut Butter would do well.
With the left over bread, I sliced them very thin (as wafer-like as I could manage) and toasted the slices in the oven so I could use them as crisps. I had them with left over pao-bhaaji vegetables but they would be lovely served with salsa, guacamole or yoghurt dip.
Moral of the story – don’t trash (seemingly) disastrous outcomes in the kitchen. Something can usually be done about it!