#1: Spice Bread

Virtual bread jealousy is a weird phenomenon. You ever find yourself watching a cartoon or playing a game where bread makes an appearance, and it looks way too good? Crusty, white, fluffy and just… perfect, somehow? This was our attempt at bringing virtual bread to life by making something as perfect-looking as possible.

As for the ‘Spice’ side of things, the girl and I had eaten cumin bread before but decided we’d have to push the boat out a little further. Not just cumin this time, but other spices too.

Because we are terrible human beings we forgot to take any photos of the actual cooking process for this one, but here’s how it went down:

We started by prepping the dough according to an old Victorian recipe for milk bread we’d tried before and knew to be foolproof. Once we had a milky, buttery dough finished, we threw the spices in. Powdered cumin first, followed by the more experimental stuff: Diced garlic, and some cumin and coriander seeds which we dry-fried first to unlock the flavour. Finally we made three slits in the top for that authentic, stereotypical bread look, and threw it in the oven. THE BEAUTIFUL RESULT:

One pretty-looking loaf of bread, I’m sure you’ll agree. And the spices worked great! They give serious tang and flavour to the milk bread, which can be a little stodgy otherwise. I’ll be making this one again for sure. Go on, have a bite.

Mmm.

Spice Bread recipe:

750g Strong White Flour
1 tbsp Caster Sugar (gold, white, whatever)
85g Butter
300ml Milk
7g Sachet of Dried Yeast
Ground Cumin
Cumin Seeds
Coriander Seeds
3 Cloves Garlic

1: Have you made bread before? Let’s hope so, but I’ll assume you haven’t. Sift (like, with a sieve) the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, and then cut up the butter into little chunks and rub it into the flour and salt with your fingertips for a few minutes until it’s turned into sporadic little breadcrumbs. Now add the yeast and sugar.
2: Pour the milk into a measuring jug and add 150ml of water. Either microwave the 450ml mix for 1 minute, or heat it on the hob until it’s quite warm.
3: Using a spoon, nudge the flour in the bowl into a basic volcano shape so you’ve created a little hole in the middle. Pour some of the water/milk mix into this hole, then stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times until all of your water/milk is in there with the flour, then drop the spoon and start massaging the dough with your hands. This will feel gross. Persevere!
4: After a minute of bending and reshaping the dough you may be looking at something that’s either crumbly or still sticky. If it’s crumbly, add a small splash more milk. If it’s sticky, sift a bit more flour in. Once you have something smooth and elastic, give yourself a pat on the back and preheat the oven to 200°C (220°C if you don’t have a fan oven).
5: Now, spices! Throw in the diced garlic, one and a half teaspoons of ground cumin and a level tablespoon of both cumin and coriander seeds that have been heated in a hot pan for three minutes. Really though, this bit’s up to you. Double these quantities if you want something a little stranger, and feel free to throw in any other spices you think’ll taste good.
6: Fold your spices into the dough and grease a baking tin with butter. Put the dough in the baking tin, cover the tin with film or foil and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, unless your home is freezing, in which case put it in an airing cupboard. You need warmth, basically. You’re leaving it so the yeast has time to do its thing.
7: Place dough in oven.
8: Pray for 30 minutes.
9: Remove wonderful loaf from oven. Careful now! Let it cool for half an hour before eating.