Saturday, October 23, 2010

Indian wheat flour

I have been baking more whole-wheat breads lately and the inclusion of Indian Maida flour warranted a new post. Maida is the Indian equivalent of all purpose flour. Since the Indian grocery store near my work place carried Pillsbury Maida, I picked up a couple of bags for this flour test.

When I poured it into the flour bowl, I was surprised by the creamy color compared to the Prima bread flour. I would not have noticed the color had it not been placed side by side to the Prima bread flour. In comparison, the Prima flour was so white that it looked absolutely bleached.

For this bake, which is my favorite fruit and nut bread, I made up a formula of 50% Pillsbury Maida and 50% Swarna Chakki Atta. Swarna Chakki Atta is very fine stone ground Indian Atta. You can see their advert on Youtube. The hydration was 80% with 2% Himalayan Pink Salt. So other than the yeast, it was an entirely Indian affair. Even the Walnuts and Giant Raisins were bought from Mustafa although they were imported from California.

The first time I used Swarna Chakki Atta, I was extremely surprised by the flavor. I would say it was the most flavorful bread I had ever made. However, subsequent bakes were not so remarkable. I cannot say that the quality had deteriorated because the law of diminishing marginal utility may have kicked in.

The dough was mixed in, the night before and given a prolonged autolyse overnight. This morning, it was given a stretch and fold with the toasted walnuts and raisins scattered in. After an hour proof, it was baked at 225C for 10min, followed by another 1omin at 200C. I turned the oven down to 190 for the next 10. After the bake, the oven door was left ajar for another 10 min.

The breads were very flavorful when they were taken out from the oven. I brought a loaf to a an Indian food vendor selling Tandoori chicken. He has a Tandoori Oven in his stall where he makes a variety of Naan breads. I had come upon his stall in Bedok Food center by chance and tried out his Garlic Naan breads which I found to be very well made. We chatted about bread(what else?) and I told him about my experiments with Atta flour. Since I had promised to bring him a loaf to try, I had to make good my word. He was surprised when I showed up at his stall with a loaf of bread and some home roasted Organic coffee from Gayo, Indonesia.