Saturday, 6 June 2015

Garlic Knots

Bread baking is a superb stress buster and very satisfying too. When you see your ball of dough puff up like a mountain in the first rise, your chest also doubles up equally with joy in anticipation of eating something awesomely yummy fresh and hot from the oven. I had hosted an all Italian dinner at my place this weekend and to make it even more enticing, I decided to bake my bread at home to compliment my Lasagna. The bread superseded my expectations in every way right from the first rise, the oven spring to the cottony soft texture!! My happiness knew no bounds and even more so when my guests couldn't stop praising my efforts and the food. 

3 cups all purpose flour (I used bread flour but APF works equally well)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt 
3/4 cup warm water plus 1/2 cup for kneading 
2 tbsp butter softened 
For the garlic wash
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp garlic finely chopped (depending in how garlicky you want your knots)
2 tbsp parsley finely chopped 

Dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup warm water (43.3 degree celcius to be precise or till you are able to bear a drop of water on the back of your wrist) and sugar and let it stand till frothy and doubled in volume. 
Mix the flour and salt and add the frothy yeasty liquid to it. Mix with your hands or a spoon until the flour just comes together. It is not required that it forms a dough at this point. Cover and let the dough hydrate for 15 minutes. 

Now add the remaining water little at a time and start kneading the dough. Once the dough starts coming together, transfer to a clean kitchen counter or silicon mat and knead with the heels of your hands till the stickiness of the dough is almost gone. Now flatten the dough slightly with your hands and put 1 tbsp butter on the flattened base and fold in. Bang, fold, and knead the dough with all force till the butter is all absorbed and the dough is smooth with no stickiness. Again roll out the dough with the hands and apply the remaining butter and fold, bang, fold and knead like before till the dough is smooth to touch and and soft and elastic. Oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl and grease it too. Cover and let it rest either in one corner of the kitchen counter or inside the microwave (basically a warm and humid place) until doubled in volume. 
Now deflate the dough and punch down the dough for 2-3 minutes. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and divide the dough into two. Keep one part of the dough in the bowl covered while working on the other. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle of 1/3" thickness. With the help of a knife cut long strips. 

Pick one strip and make a knot (bring both ends together and then push one end into the circle making a knot). Place it on the prepared baking tray. 
Repeat with the rest of the strips and the dough. Place the knots 1" apart as you keep them covered in a warm place for their second rise, about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Singapore is quite hot and humid these days and so it took me just 45 minutes in both the proofings for the dough to rise. 
Pre-heat the oven 20 minutes before the end of the second rise at 225 degree celcius. Now make the garlic wash. Melt the butter and oil together on the stove top and add the garlic. Stir for a minute and then remove from heat and add the parsley. Stir and cool it to room temperature. Now brush the cooled garlic wash generously (but gently) on the puffed up knots. Take care not to deflate the risen knots by hard brushing or hot garlic wash. 
Bake in the pre-heated oven at 200 degree celcius for 15 minutes or until golden on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and brush again with the remaining garlic wash. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely!

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