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  • Writer's pictureKyveli Papaioannou

Magic in the Kitchen: A Love Affair with Baking Bread


homemade bread

I love the smell of bread, its rising, its texture, and most of all, I love making it. I put flour in a bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water, add a little sugar, salt, anise, and a bit of olive oil, and then I start kneading. At first, the dough is sticky, but after a while, it becomes a pliable mass that comes to life in my hands. It's a communication that is difficult at first, but with persistence and love, it matures into a rich food that delights our souls.

Every time I knead, I become a child. I imagine myself as a fairy with a magic wand that touches the flour and creates bread. How much magic is hidden on a floured countertop?

Let's all gather together with our magic wands and, like fairies, try the following recipe. You can replace the anise with your favorite spice, sprinkle sesame seeds, or use various types of flour. The result will surely move you, especially when the warm bread comes out of the oven, and as the bakers say, you should cover it with a towel to cool down, preserving its moisture because it continues to bake and develop flavors. Well, maybe a little mischief is worth it—cut a corner that's crispy and then secretly re-cover the creation as if no one saw us.


Ingredients:

  • 500 grams hard wheat flour

  • 15 grams active dry yeast

  • 300 ml lukewarm water

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds (or your preferred spice)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Optional: Sesame seeds or other toppings

Instructions:


1. Activate the Yeast for the Bread:

  • In a small bowl, mix the yeast with lukewarm water and sugar. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy. This indicates that the yeast is active.

  • Add the anise seeds or your chosen spice or herbs to enhance the flavor of the bread. Some suggestions could include garlic, olives, basil, dried tomatoes, various seeds, or dry nuts.


2. Prepare the Dough Bread:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and olive oil.

  • Pour in the activated yeast mixture.


3. Knead the Dough Bread:

  • Use your hands to mix everything together until a rough dough forms.

  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 10-15 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. You can add more flour if the dough is too sticky.


kneeding bread dough



4. First Rise:

  • Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, sprinkle it with a little flour, cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size.


5 Shape the Bread:

  • After the first rise, punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles.

  • Shape it into a loaf or divide it into smaller portions for rolls or other shapes.



bread dough



6. Second Rise:

  • Place the shaped dough on a baking sheet or in a greased loaf pan.

  • Cover it again and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.


7. Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F).


8. Bake the Bread:

  • If desired, sprinkle sesame seeds or your preferred toppings on the dough.

  • You can create decorative patterns on top of the loaf with a knife, taking care to do so gently and precisely.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes for rolls or 45-50 minutes for a loaf, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.


9. Cool and Enjoy:

  • Allow the bread to cool while wrapped in a towel. It's best enjoyed when fresh, and you can then slice it and serve it with your favorite spreads or use it for sandwiches..


Feel free to customize this recipe with different spices, toppings, or types of flour to suit your preferences. Enjoy your homemade bread!




whole grain bread



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