Aha! Now, keen eyed readers may have noticed that every single one of my blogs during this bread odyssey has been lacking in one key ingredient . . . a recipe! I have always been loathed to put up such intellectual property because you never know if it contravenes copy write law – ultimately these are Paul’s creations. Thankfully I have found that some of the book is free on Google Books here. So whilst you read my trials and tribulations you can also try some of them for yourself without me breaking any laws!
Today we turn to sesame seed rings. Paul claims that these breads have been found in the tombs of Pharaohs but I have not, yet, been able to verify this. If you find any proof of this then please send your answers on the back of a postcard to my contact page. Fortunately M.D. is with her Grandma today or else she may have been subject to some rather unsavoury language. The bread itself was easy to make, the instructions on the other hand were rather frustrating.
Mixing and Kneading
The dough is a basic dough recipe so it mixed together very easily. So onto the knead . . . White flour and all that. The use of olive oil over butter gives the knead an easy, one-handed quality. But rather than go through old ground again, I will say that repetitive strain is a serious concern for anyone making bread in quantities larger than 2 loaves a week. If you are making a lot of bread I would advise finding more than one way to knead – i.e. more techniques than the one you use. I have a few up my sleeve, one-handed, two-handed and alternating hands which have all produced good bread. I don’t buy into this idea that everyone has their way of kneading bread; I think you should have an arsenal of ways and, as long as you understand the principles of kneading, you can invent your own methods. Once I work out how to, I will make a video-blog on ‘kneading bread’, maybe even making an entire loaf from start to finish, to show you what I mean.
The dough is left to prove until doubled in size, so no time given in this recipe. With this heat wave hitting the UK, combined with 14g yeast, my prove only took an hour.
Here is where I had to deviate from trusty old Paul’s instructions. He says to split the dough into 75g pieces, fine and dandy so far. He then says to roll them into sausages 10cm long (4 inches to those imperial folk out there) and then make them into a ring shape. This was the problem because the balls of dough were themselves wider than 10cm! The one I tried ended up looking ridiculous and I was suspicious of the end result. Instead I took a more ‘bagel’ approach; I rolled them out to 20cm each, made them into rings, rolled the join with my hand (going through the hole) and then span it on my finger to widen and even out the thickness – this seemed to work better.
Paul then says to roll them in sesame seeds. I found that the seeds just fell off the dough so I sprayed them with water first, this made the seeds stick perfectly. Unfortunately for me, and not Paul’s fault at all, I ran out of sesame seeds on the last ring, so I went for whatever I had to hand which was brown linseed (If you like sesame seed or poppy seed bread, I advise you try linseed it is brilliant).
I then left them to prove for an hour and preheated the oven to 220.
Ooooh I love the smell of sesame seeds cooking, they just fill a house with aromatic anticipation. The rings were left a little bit too close to each other so they have merged in the bake. Not a great deal but enough to mean you have to tear the rings apart.
To describe the bake you need to think of a packaged bagel. You know; the plain coloured, cotton-like chewiness, the bland flavour, the look of something that you do not believe is really food. Now, hold that in your mind . . . these rings are the exact opposite. The crust is crisp and adorned with the subtle flavours of sesame (and one with linseed), the interior is soft, tasty and just amazing. The only thing I would change next time is that I will make bigger ones, and less of them, thus maximising the amount of soft crumb available.
These rings are a must try for two reasons; flavour and simplicity. Also (I suppose this makes three reasons) if you mix the seed toppings anyone else who sees them will think you have made lots of different breads – ha! I think M.D. is going to love them, but she does have 4 teeth coming through so she might struggle with the crust. Oh well, sesame seed is my wife’s favourite bread topping so no doubt all twelve will be eaten with help from the in-laws.
History of Bread
In Ancient Greece the separation between men and gods was of high importance. Indeed, many of their myths revolve around men trying to breach this gap – overstepping their position and committing hubris, resulting in divine retribution.
One such gap was that of food. The food eaten by the gods was different to that of men, which is why when an animal was sacrificed in a temple the meat was eaten by the humans and a package of bone wrapped up in fat was offered to the gods (there is an interesting myth behind this if you are ever bored, look up Prometheus before he got chained to a rock for all eternity). Another food fad of the gods was their lack of bread, thus making bread the sole remit of man:
“. . . for they [the gods] eat not bread neither drink flaming wine, wherefore they are bloodless, and are called immortals.” Homer, Illiad, 5.340-45
“For that is the custom of men who live by bread, whenever they come to land in their dark ships from the main” Hymn 3 to Apollo, 456-60