I started to bake some bread after I came back home late from a conversations over coffee with my friend. Before turning in for the night, I mixed up the flour, yeast and other ingredients and left it to rise overnight. The first thing I went to check in the morning was the bowl of dough. It had risen beautifully and it was so silky smooth to touch. Not sticky at all. After a bit of kneading and shaping, I kept it covered up. Meanwhile my morning cup of ginger tea was ready to be savoured with the newspapers.
Early morning scene from our balcony - The moon is still around and what lies beyond the crowd of buildings is the Arabian sea.
The morning half hour spent sitting in our balcony, with the birds providing the most melodious background music and the sea breeze wafting gently onto us, each reading our favourite sections of the newspaper over steaming hot ginger tea is easily my best time of the day. I love this routine even if I'm home alone. This gives a kind of stress-free kick start to the day.
I am surely a early bird (though I don't have to rush out to catch worms) and it is a kind of disadvantage at times. Even if we've partied way past midnight, I'm up bright and early. I can't sleep beyond 8 am. Blow!
But surely there are other days when I enjoy the quiet and peace of waking up before the rest of the city and ofcourse the sun too. The dark hours of morning have always given me the much needed peace, whether it was while studying for class 12 and while studying for medicine, or even nowadays when I feel a certain feature I am working on, is going nowhere. I set the alarm for 5 am, keep the filled kettle on the stove to make my first cuppa tea and sit down with my laptop.
It has rarely happens that I don't find direction on my work in these early hours. Most of my work, like the conclusion to a piece or the final editing is done then. Besides, it is a great sense of accomplishment, when you finish a much pending chore first thing in the morning.
The Sun setting into the Arabian Sea, an evening view from our 'favourite' spot in the house
The other thing I love doing early morning, is baking. Letting loose those delicious aromas in the house is a perfect way to start the day. What say?
I'll share with you two bakes with beets. The first one that I share here is a yeast milk-bread. I love beets for the ruby red colour they impart to everything they get into and that's why they get in here too. You can easily substitute the beets in the bread with grated zucchini or keep it just plain like a milk bread.
Recipe for Beet-Milk Bread follows
Beet and milk yeast breadCategory - Yeast bread
Time taken - Overnight plus some hour and a half
- Mix in the salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Make a well, pour the yeast mixture, milk, yogurt and grated beets in the well and stir in the flour to make a non-sticky dough. Once the ingredients are bound into a smooth dough with some kneading, use 1 tsp oil to further smoothen the dough. In a well-oiled bowl, place the smooth ball of pink dough. Make deep cross cuts on the top with a sharp knife for easy rising. Cover and keep overnight or for some 2 hours until the dough has risen to over double the volume. In cooler times, it serves well to keep this on your counter overnight for a perfect rise.
- After the dough has risen well, remove it onto a lightly floured counter. Punch out all the air by kneading for a few minutes. The dough will be very pliable and not stick to your hands at all. On an inverted baking sheet, flatten the dough with your hands into an oval or a round of over an inch thickness and score some cuts with a sharp knife. Let this prove for atleast an hour covered with cling film during which it will again double up in volume.
- In a 200 C preheated oven, place the shaped dough and bake until a hollow sound can be heard by tapping the bottom. My loaf was ready in 15 minutes.
The 'wild' bread - sliced and 'tamed' with a slap of coriander chutney topped with paper thin slices of cucumber
This bread has a thin yet nice crust. Insides are soft from the milk and yogurt mix. The beets add their sweetness and ofcourse the beautiful pinkish brown colour. Pull off a bit, butter and it's the perfect accompaniment to your morning brew.