THE JOY of BAKING – or how to listen to the sound of bread

There is nothing to compare to the smell of freshly baked bread in the kitchen! My mother is a great source of wisdom in this field. When ever she moved into a new house, first act in the kitchen was baking bread to make the place officially HERS and produce that particular scent of a real home. Look at the picture in one of my posts from Bavaria, this is one real BREAD out of my mother’s kitchen. Simple food and truly awesome! 
This is one reason why I sometimes bake bread at home here in Dubai. Another reason is that I am fond of eating wholesome bread aka the good carbs, normal “white” bread can’t deliver (think empty carbohydrates).
A note to people being too busy sometimes to go the extra mile in their kitchen: Freshly baked bread (and also a number of wholesome options bringing the good carbs) are available now daily at the Al Samar Cake Boutique, Madinat Jumeirah. They also take orders.
Just in case you don’t find time to try my recipe….. 
But if you get on it, this bread is heaven when it is still a little bit warm from the oven. I like to dip it in pesto for example. My ultimate pesto recipe I will share with you in a couple of days, please keep checking this blog.
The following recipe is quick and easy, perfect to start your bread baking experience. The rosemary and onion is an extra flavor you can add or not. The same recipe works equally well with fresh sage or fresh zaathar, which I love since day one here in Dubai.

Rosemary Whole Spelt Baguette
1 medium size baguette or two smaller ones

What to Buy
150 ml water
1 teaspoon acacia honey or agave syrup
5 gm fresh yeast
200 gm whole spelt flour
1 small onion
2 sprigs rosemary
10 ml olive oil
1 pinch of salt 

How to Make It
To start the dough gently mix water, yeast and agave syrup or honey. Then add the flour and beat the dough well by hand with a wooden spoon until it is soft and elastic. It needs to get some air bubbles in it. Allow the dough to rest and rise for around 10-15 minutes at room temperature. In the meantime dice the onion and chop the rosemary leaves which you have removed from their woody stalks. Braise both in olive oil for one minute. Add a pinch of salt and add the warm rosemary-onion-olive oil to the dough. Eventually add some more flour and beat the dough again until it starts cleaning the mixing bowl.
Now place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. Preheat the oven at 230 degrees Celsius. Roll the dough to a baguette shape bread (you might need some extra flour for the work table) and place it on the baking tray, the closure of the dough (a thin visible long line) upside down. Place slight angled cuts on the skin of the bread every 3 cm. This is important to avoid the bread surface breaking up oddly on the sides and ruining its shape when baking in the oven. Allow the baguette to rise again for around 10 minutes. Note: Air-conditioned rooms are not as supportive to bread rising as normal room temperature. If your bread is not getting volume indoors, just take it outdoors for five minutes. When you place the baking tray with your baguette into the oven, spray some cold water before you close the door. This is necessary to produce steam only for the beginning of the baking process without having that uber professional baker oven with steam function at hand. This makes The Perfect Crust.
Bake the baguette for around 10-15 minutes (depending on size and thickness) until it looks golden and crispy. Now test the result and do the ultimate maturity check:
LISTEN TO ITS SOUND. (don’t get your ears to close though, while it is hot)
The baguette is ready when it sounds hollow knocking at its bottom.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
Rosemary grows very well in this climate. Even in summer. 
I have rosemary since many years in the garden and I am cutting it regularly for culinary use. Rosemary has energizing and antibacterial properties. Its strong flavor matches perfect with onions or garlic, or with orange or lime. In this bread it unfolds its Mediterranean character.

It is also part of the aromatic herb water – remember: Drinking enough water is the perfect tool to beat the summer heat.

4 thoughts on “THE JOY of BAKING – or how to listen to the sound of bread

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