After a long hiatus, I am back to using my bread machine. It’s been staring at me long enough anyway on the kitchen counter.
Of course the other reason is, I ran out of bread flour. Can’t make bread without bread flour. So I had to wait until I went downtown (meaning go into George Town) before I could bake some bread.
The place I normally go to is Sim Company on Carnavon Street. This shop is an institution for baking supplies – you name it, they probably have it. They are the old school type of baking supplies store and if you look at their “staff”, you will know why. They’re all in their 60s. Some can be grouchy as hell. But if you know what you want, you just go and grab what you want and pay.
Of course if you’re looking for speciality ingredients like Dutch processed cocoa powder, I doubt they have it. For these unique and premium ingredients you have to visit other baking supplies stores like Bonjour in Pulau Tikus (which my cousin swears by). Sim Company is for your every day flour, sugar, butter etc. The common stuff for common folks.
Anyway, I made a tomato bread last Friday once I managed to get my bread flour (1 kg for RM3.40). I was hankering for something different so this tomato bread fit the bill. This recipe calls for ingredients which are pizza ingredients – tomato, cheese, olive oil and Italian herbs. (Check out my Pullman loaf, a soft, silky milk-laden bread recipe.)
I’m all for unique bread recipes but they must also be easy. I was telling Nic that I should write a book on easy cakes and breads because it’s my style. I don’t like heavy “work” in the kitchen so toiling over a hot stove isn’t my thing.
Even my youngest sister knows this. She will painstakingly make cookies all day long but not me (hence I do not make cookies!). My style is dictated by the ease of a recipe. I tend to gravitate towards recipes which are quick and easy and don’t need lots of waiting around.
I also see if any of my kitchen gadgets can make it for me. (I have no problem with people who want to knead dough and make bread with their hands. It’s just not me because of the other more pressing things I have to do. If you like kneading bread with your bare hands, more power to you. I just don’t fancy getting hot and sweaty and messing up my kitchen counter.)
The bottom line is, I like tasty food with minimal cooking and minimal fuss. So if a recipe passes my “easy” test, my sister wants it. She knows it will be super easy to follow and the results, excellent.
Unlike most of the bread recipes I’ve tried, this one uses a sponge starter (wonder if it can be called Tang Zhong – Tang Zhong refers to a water and flour roux cooked over the stove and refrigerated overnight). This sponge starter is a lot easier.
You prepare the sponge starter by pouring 70 ml of boiling water over 100 gm of bread flour. Mix until you get a ball of dough. The dough should be pliable so you need to knead it a bit if it isn’t pliable. This takes about 5 minutes.
Then put this lump of dough into a tupperware (with a lid) and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. This is the ONLY tedious step of the recipe.
The next day, you need these DRY ingredients:
- 400 gm bread flour
- 45 gm sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp mixed Italian dried herbs
- 1.5 tsp dried instant yeast
(mix the above up in a bowl and set aside)
Get your blender ready to blend these WET ingredients:
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped roughly (120 gm)
- 20 gm tomato paste (I used ketchup since I ran out of paste!)
- 120 ml ice cold water
- 35 ml olive oil
- 3 tsp mayonnaise
In another bowl, grate about 100 gm of cheddar cheese. Set aside.
Now all you need is your bread machine.
Remove the sponge starter from the fridge when you are measuring and blending your ingredients. This will bring the starter to room temperature at least.
Take the starter and pinch into tiny pieces. Place this into your bread maker.
Next, pour your finely blended WET ingredients over this starter.
Finally, place your dry ingredients and grated cheddar cheese on top of this mix.
Close your machine and press the DOUGH setting. On my machine this takes 1.5 hours of kneading, resting and rising.
Once the machine beeps to indicate the DOUGH setting is done, press the BAKE setting. For my Lebensstill machine, it takes 1 hour to bake so all in all it takes 2.5 hours to make a loaf of bread.
When this loaf is baking, your kitchen smells like a bakery! Imagine the combination of tomato, Italian herbs, cheese and mayonnaise.
This sponge method creates a bread that is wonderfully soft and spongy, which is unlike the Western type of bread (which I have made before). The sponge gives your bread a softness that lasts even until the 3rd day in a covered tupperware in this Malaysian weather. I usually refrigerate my bread by the 2nd day. When you want to eat this bread, just remove it from the fridge and let it stand for 30 minutes. Or you could toast it lightly over a pan (I don’t have a toaster) and it goes superbly well with pats of good quality butter.
This bread is lovely due to its savouriness and a combination of pizza-like ingredients! If you don’t like your bread tinged with sweetness, I suggest you reduce the sugar from 45 gm to 30 gm.
My bread taster is Nic (basically he either gives it a thumbs up or he tells me to tweak the recipe) and he liked it enough to eat it with butter the next day.
Even Margaret, my Massimo-bread-eating cat, ate this bread.
The verdict? The two creatures in my house like it.
Try it and let me know how you like this recipe. (Note: I found this recipe online but substituted some ingredients like ketchup for tomato paste!)