Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Pumpkin Seed Bread



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The past couple of days have been a bit up and down for me. I had a brilliant weekend visiting London with my brother and sister, spending Sunday wandering up and down Oxford Street, doing some SERIOUS shopping, and visiting the Natural History Museum. London is such a beautiful place to me, completely unlike the city I grew up in, and some of the architecture is truly stunning. I'd loved to have spent a little longer there.

When it came time to find food, it's always a little difficult when you are out to find something that fits with your (well, my) vegan-ish diet! We had originally planned to go to a Scandinavian restaurant, but by the time dinner rolled around, we were both way too exhausted to find it! So we settled for a Mexican canteen which we just stumbled across. The pricing was brilliant, they catered for vegetarians & vegans and, most of all, it was tasty! I loved the coriander rice I had. Sometimes coriander can be a little overpowering, however it was scrummy! Definitely something for me to attempt, and soon!

After that amazing trip. I had a pretty devastating car crash. My car, is gone, I have to pay a LOT for my insurance excess, my sister injured her hand, and I keep replaying it in my head. Not an experience I wish to repeat. ever. again.

So with that fabulous start to 2014 I was in need of some. . err. . comfort food. Copious amounts of potato (in the mashed form) with peas have been consumed. (everyone has their own comfort food right!? - mines just mashed potato and peas!)

And what better food than freshly baked bread and jam (chilli jam, but that's for another day! I promise) to lift the spirits?

I absolutely adore Seeds, my current obsession are spiced seed mixes, and Pumpkin Seeds are by no means an exception.
I love roasting Pumpkin Seeds with a little salt, straight out of the innards of the pumpkin, I do this because it means you don't have to use oil, which I find you do if you let them dry out more.
This recipe works well with all types of seeds, sesame seeds are another favourite, although I find they have a much more predominant flavour.

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I've shown you how to make this bread manually as it is so darn easy, if a little time consuming. On a regular basis, I would use the bread machine* (See Notes) to make the dough, and then bake. (If I could - the heating element is blown in the bread machine! - I would probably make the entire loaf in the bread machine as well!)

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The thing which I find makes this bread extra special, is the sweet and slightly sticky Agave Nectar, mild heat from the chilli flakes and the contrast in texture via the pumpkin seeds.

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(drizzling the agave, chilli and pumpkin seeds over the dough, ready to bake)



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   Recipe:


4 cups of Strong White Bread Flour (See Notes)
1tsp Salt
1tbsp Fast Action Dried Yeast (See Notes)
3tbsp Sunflower Oil (See Notes)
1/2 tbsp Sugar (See Notes)
Tepid Water (See Notes)
Roasted Sunflower Seeds - Approximately 1/3 Cup.
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Agave Syrup

1. In a large basin, combine the Flour, Salt, Yeast and Sugar. Make a well in the middle of the bowl.
2. In a measuring jug, measure out approximately 1 1/2 cups of Tepid Water.
3. Pour the Sunflower Oil and then the Water into the well in the flour.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients into a dough, if the mixture is not "wet" enough, slowly add more water, 1tbsp at a time until it holds together well. You should require no more than 1 3/4 cups of water in total.
5. When the mixture resembles a dough, take 1/2 of the Sunflower Seeds and work them into the dough.
6. Continue to knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes,
7. Place the dough in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
8. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and "Knock back" (See Notes)
9. Divide your dough into the required amounts (See Notes)
10. Place the dough into greased tins, and cover with plastic wrap, allow to rest for a further 20-30 minutes.
11. Uncover the dough and lightly drizzle with Agave Syrup, and sprinkle with the Chilli Flakes and remaining Seeds. 
12. Bake in an oven preheated to 200° C  for 35 minutes (See Notes).






   Notes:

*Bread Machines!

I love bread machines, and this recipe is totally doable in the bread machine due to the inclusion of Fast Action Yeast!
It is possible to bake the entire loaf in the bread machine, however I like to set my machine to "dough" and then take the bread out, knock it back and let it rise for 10-15 minutes and then bake it in the same way I would if I were making it all by hand. I just find that by using the bread machine, I can go off and do something else until the program expires rather than have to keep a constant eye on dough! (which can drive one crazy!)
I do have a friend who puts the ingredients in her bread machine the night before, then sets a timer on her machine, and wakes up to fresh bread each morning! Imagine that, the smell of fresh bread to wake up to. . . Yum!

The Water, does need to be a tepid temperature, to approximately the same temperature you would take a bath. The reason for this is that the yeast needs to be warm in order to begin reacting, however if it is made too hot, the enzymes are denatured and no longer work. Effectively if the yeast gets too hot it dies, and if it is not warm enough, it goed too slowly!

To knock-back bread is to work out the large air pockets which may have formed during the first rise. I have found that this happens a lot less with Vegan bread than it does with regular bread dought, however it is still an important step.

With this recipe, I made two loaves of bread, however I think it would be nice to make these into bread buns, to serve at a dinner party, where everyone could have their own roll. If you wish to do this, it is advised that you reduce the cooking times accordingly. I would suggest that if you were to make 12 rolls instead of 2 loaves, you should reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.

If you like your bread with a thicker, crustier crust! - Place a small oven proof dish on the floor of your oven filled with water as you bake the bread, this creates crustier bread!

Lastly, I would also suggest that if you are using a fan assisted oven, you turn the temperature down to 180°C but cook the bread for the same amount of time. 


Substitutions:
Strong White Bread Flour - Occasionally I like to swap Strong White Bread Flour, for Wholemeal or even Brown, however it is worth noting, that if you use either of these, they do tend to take a little longer to prove and rise than White Bread Flour does, I'm not sure of the technical reasons why, all I know is that it does happen, so what I tend to do in these cases is to actually almost double the amount of time I give the dough to rise. 

Fast Action Dried Yeast - Sometimes Yeast comes in sachets, in which case I suggest that you read the instructions on the packet. I only really use Fast Action Dried Yeast, as it is the only kind that is advised for use in bread makers* however I know that it would be perfectly awesome to use live yeast, maybe one day I will investigate, or if someone knows of making Vegan bread with different types of yeast I would love to hear about it!

Sunflower Oil - Quite a few of my friends are really sceptical about using Sunflower Oil as they think it is completely tasteless, and to an extent, it is. I think it is somewhere in my very near future to see if I can incorporate coconut oil into a bread recipe. . . What I mean to say is, most types of oil will work just the same, olive, vegetable, sesame . . . etc!

Sugar - Sometimes it is possible to omit the sugar entirely, but not if you use Wholemeal or Brown Bread Flour, however I find that it works best with a little sugar added, plus I don't think it ends up "sweet" bread by any stretch of the imagination, it is there to simply react with the yeast enzymes. I have used Agave Syrup in the past, which works quite nicely!



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