Baking bread at home is not as exhausting as making roti/ chapathi, it is simply a time consuming preparation and hence requires a planning well ahead of our meal. It is truly a rewarding experience to bake bread at home with various flours and spices of our choice as we can impress our family by serving oven-fresh flavorful fluffy bread for dinner.
Here I have used equal portions of whole wheat flour & plain flour (maida), neutral oil in place of butter and caraway seeds (omam/ ajwain) for its wonderful aroma and medicinal properties. You may also refer the health benefits of ajwain in one of my earlier posts.
Now the recipe for whole wheat pav bread:
- For preparation: 30 min
- Proofing : 3 hours
- Baking : 20 min.
Yields: 9 pav breads
- Whole wheat flour – 125 grams
- Plain flour (maida) – 125 grams
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Caraway seeds (omam/ ajwain) – ¼ tsp
- Any neutral oil – 1 tbsp
For activating yeast:
- Lukewarm water – 180 ml
- Sugar – 1 tbsp
- Dry yeast – 2 tsp
Other ingredients :
- Any neutral oil for greasing baking dish & for coating dough before proving
- Milk for coating dough before baking
- Butter for coating breads after baking
- Microwave water for 30 seconds and add sugar & yeast into it.
- Mix well and leave this mixture for 5 to 7 min. (or until frothy).
- Meanwhile add flour, salt & ajwain seeds into the food processor and run it for few seconds.
- Now pour oil followed by activated yeast into the processor and run it at high speed for about 5 minutes until the dough has become smooth, elastic and yet slightly sticky.
- Transfer dough to a large bowl and brush with oil to prevent drying.
- Cover the bowl with wet cloth leaving considerable space to allow the dough rise up.
- Allow it to ferment for 2 hours.
- When proved, punch down the dough to release the air inside.
- Knead with hand for few minutes.
- Grease a baking dish and keep aside.
- Roll the proved dough into a log and divide into 9 equal portions.
- Roll each piece into a smooth yet tightly stretched ball.
- Place them as shown below.
- Brush oil over these balls.
- Cover the dish with wet cloth leaving enough space above the dough so that it could not reach the cloth while rising up. (Alternatively you can invert a large deep bowl over the dish.)
- Keep in a warm place for an hour.
- Preheat the oven at 200 deg C, 10 minutes before the end of proofing time.
- When dough balls are proven brush them with milk.
- Bake for 15 min or until they turn golden.
- Remove from oven and brush them with butter to keep soft.
- Invert the dish onto a plate when cooled down.
- Pull them apart before serving.
- Enjoy whole wheat pav bread with mixed vegetable bhaji.
- I tried with whole wheat flour instead of maida; but it turned out so dense that I used both flour in equal portions. You may also try with any other flour of grains or millets.
- You can use milk instead of water for activating yeast; this helps to make even more soft bread.
- You may use butter while kneading instead of oil for softer bread.
Tips for making pav bread :
Here I list down the factors that determine the quality of bread. Hope this may help anyone, particularly a novice, to bake bread successfully at home:
Quality of dough: It is an important factor contributing the texture of bread and is naturally depending on the flour-liquid ratio, kneading time & proving time apart from the quality of ingredients used.
Measurement for flour: We usually measure ingredients by volume (in a cup) but here we need to weigh the flour using kitchen scale. The approximate weight of plain flour (maida) is 110 grams per cup & whole wheat flour is 120 grams per cup; I used 250 grams of flour which comes in 2¼ cups (volume of my cup is 200 ml).
Measurement for liquid (water or milk): The ratio between flour & liquid play a vital role for making soft breads, you may add water 60% (minimum) to 80% (max.) of flour (ie.) the ratio of flour:water is 5:3 or 5:4. If we add more water, it takes longer time to knead. Here I used 180 ml of water for 250 grams of flour, which is about 70% of flour. Additionally you may use little flour and/or oil while kneading when the dough is sticky.
Kneading time: It takes about 10 minutes when kneaded by hand and takes less than 5 minutes in the food processor/ stand mixer to get smooth elastic dough.
Proving time: The general rule is to leave the dough undisturbed for proving until it is doubled in size. It takes longer to prove when you increase the size of dough. Besides it takes longer during winter & shorter in summer.
Quality of yeast: If the yeast is not activated or does not become frothy within 10 minutes, it means that yeast has lost its vigor and hence no activity. So we need to discard not only the solution but also the remaining yeast in the same pack. We have to buy a new pack of yeast and use them. It is better to refrigerate yeast to keep them afresh.
Shaping up dough balls: We need to stretch the dough to make its surface tight and then shape into a smooth ball. If the dough balls are not tightly stretched while shaping them up, you may notice cracks on the surface as shown below.
Arrangement of dough balls in baking dish: It is preferred to arrange dough balls close to each other to make pull-apart breads. Each dough ball occupies all the space around before rising up while proving. So we need to reduce the space around each ball allowing the dough to rise up to get fluffy cubic bread; If we leave more space around each ball, we get flat round buns.
Selection of baking dish: For pull-apart breads the size of dish must be just enough to place all the dough balls and also have enough space above to rise up. So we can not use a shallow plate or tray. Here I used the baking dish of size 7″ x 7″ x 2″.
If we look for cubic breads, we have to use square dish not round dish. Since dough balls take up the shape of baking dish, we get elongated pull-apart breads when round dish is used.
Baking time: It takes longer or shorter according to the size of dough. Initially I set the timer for 15 minutes but I gradually increased to 17 minutes until they turn golden. We need to watch carefully at the end (14th minute on wards), else it may turn darker (as shown above) even if we leave them few seconds more.
Baking breads in large quantity: It is better to make the dough in batches rather than incrementing the ingredients.