Monday, April 12, 2010

Red hot emergency

What a beaute, eh? Here's the story of how this gorgeous machine ended up in my kitchen.

Last Firday, my trustee RM100 Kenwood mixer whirred it's last breath. This is not a reflection on Kenwood but rather on how I've abused the machine. You see, I've been making bread like nobody's business (for Crazy Juliet) and the poor basic mixer could not cope with the work load. I was midway through making my pita dough when the poor thang started groaning and moaning and finally, it just refused to work ... just like any overworked employee. I was sad at first but panic soon took over. After all, I had to make 7 pieces of pita bread and two wholemeal loaves by Sunday or I would be in serious trouble.

This classified as an emergency, for sure! I had no choice but to knead the flour by hand (unlike my business partner/colleague Marty I do not find this therapeutic) and at the end of it exhaustion pushed panic aside. It was a night when emotions ran high.

Tomorrow, I vowed, I will get myself a proper, hardier machine that could stand some heavy duty baking.

And that's how I welcomed this red beauty -- the Kenwood Patissier 4L, 400 W mixer. I got it in signal red of course and have used it to make a second batch of pita, and the two wholemeal loaves. I love it. Love, love, love it.  Now I just hope my poor battered basic mixer can be saved.

Now onto the pitas and the wholemeal loafs. The key to making a perfect pita is in getting the circular bread to puff up slightly, leaving an envelope in the centre in which you can stuff with a variety of fillings. The thing to remember is not to roll the circles too thick. Roll them 7 inches in diameter but just  allow 1/4 inch thickness.  I used 2 cups high protein flour and 1 cup whole wheat and added some sage for extra flavour : an adaptation of a basic pita recipe found on The Fresh Loaf.

The wholemeal loafs are adapted from the basic Pullman Loaf, a perfect sandwich bread. The Pattisierre was a joy to use: so silent and so efficient.

For the Pullman, you need 4 cups flour (I used 50% whole wheat and 50% high protein), 1/4 cup dry milk, 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp instant dry yeast, 6 tbsp softened butter, 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup, 11/4 cups tepid water. Whisk the flour, milk and yeast together. Transfer to the bowl of your mixer, attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the butter to the dry flour combo and start kneading (speed 2 or low) till butter is well combined. Add the water, salt and honey and when the flour is moist, speed up the mixer to 4 (medium).  Knead for 7 mins or till a smooth but sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to a floured surface, form into a ball, flour the top and cover with cling film for 15 mins. Once rested, deflate with your finger tips and shape the dough into a rectangle (10 x 8 inches). Given the rectangle an envelope turn (90degrees) and form a 12 inch roll and then shape it once more into a loaf to fit your pullman tin. Cover and et it rise till just an inch below the rim. Bake, covered, for 3o mins and then uncovered for 15-30 mins or till brown.

Now that the bread is all done and my house is smelling like a bakery, it's time to make myspreads: hummus, oilve tapenade and sun dried tomato pesto. There is no rest for the wicked ... but I ain't complaining. No better way to spend a rainy Sunday.

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