Whenever DH and I go for grocery shopping, one thing that is usually not on our list is bread. I love making bread at home–the smell of the yeast fermenting and the bread baking in the oven– gives me a high like no other!
For a while now, I had been ogling at Chef Tess’s site http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/ and how she creatively uses bread dough to produce masterpieces (well I think they are!). The pleasure of making your own bread at home is an exhilarating experience, but to paint on it and make it even more beautiful is just something that words will never be able to justify. So, today I decided I would take a shot at this too. I did not have any food color in my pantry so decided to use a mixture of coffee and egg yolk that I read gives a natural edible brown color. I was scared though, that the coffee taste might overpower the taste of the bread, but thankfully it did not. I used my recipe for light wheat bread – that uses both bread flour and whole wheat flour – as the canvas. Well the results weren’t as good as Tess’ but then again this was my first try! (The original recipe makes 3 loaves so I had to scale it down for one loaf- hence the fractioned ingredients!)
PAINTED LIGHT WHEAT BREAD
1 cup warm water (110°F / 45°C)
2/3 ( 0.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 tbsp + 2 1/4 tsp honey
1 2/3 cup bread flour
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 cup + 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tsp butter, melted
For the artwork
1 tsp instant granulated coffee
1 egg yolk
In a large bowl, mix the warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp honey. Add the bread flour and stir to combine. let set for 30 min, or until big and bubbly.
Mix in 1 tbsp of the melted butter, 2 1/4 tsp honey and salt. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with the whole wheat flour until not real sticky, just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. ( I use a stand mixer on the lowest speed to knead the dough, for about 5 minutes, and then remove the dough and continue to knead by hand. With the proportions mentioned, I have experienced that no additional flour is required).
Once kneaded, place the dough in a greased bowl turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. ( To achieve a warm and humid climate for the dough to rise well, I boil water in a saucepan and put the saucepan in the oven. I put the bowl containing the dough covered with a wet dish towel in the oven and close the oven door.)
FIRST RISE TEST: Stick two fingers till second knuckle and take them out. If indentation remains, dough is ripe and ready to punch down. If not, cover and let rise longer.
Once double in size, punch the dough down. Let it rest, covered with a dish towel, on the counter for 5 minutes before shaping.
Shape into desired shape and place in a lightly greased loaf pan. Again let the dough rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch. (I accidently slept off during the second raise so the dough rose more than required– but the final result was still awesome!)
Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25-30 minutes (if you plan to skip painting the bread) or for about 15 minutes or until it is lightly golden.
If you are planning to paint the bread, mix the coffee granules in very little hot water till they dissolve. Once cool, add the egg yolk to achieve the desired color. You might not use the entire yolk. It’s ok!
Once, the bread turns light golden brown, remove it from the oven and using a thin tip paintbrush, paint on any pattern. Put it back in the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes until it is a nice golden brown. Keep checking to make sure you don’t overbake. And voila, you have a nice aromatic, painted bread!
Once out, lightly brush the bread with melted butter to prevent the crust from getting hard. Cool completely before slicing.