Cooking used to relax me. Well, it still does but, these days, I find bread making even more relaxing. The manual kneading is such an effective stress buster and I tell myself it’s good exercise for my arms and shoulders too.
These bread knots were made with whole wheat flour, bread flour and brown sugar and, hence, the dark hue. If you want lighter colored bread knots, use bread flour alone and substitute white for the brown sugar. The amount of bread flour might differ though (and I can’t tell how much different) as I discovered that wheat flour requires more liquid than bread flour. Moreover, wheat flour needs more oil to yield bread that is soft inside and crusty outside.
Herb, Garlic and Onion Bread Knots
- 1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups bread flour plus more for dusting
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped onion (I used dried roasted onion bits as I ran out of fresh onions)
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes (or use your preferred herb, fresh or dried)
- Pour the water in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over it. Leave for ten minutes. Add the salt, sugar and vegetable oil. Stir. Add half of the whole wheat flour and half of the bread flour. Mix. The dough will be very soft. Add the rest of the flours. Mix.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gather together and knead for about ten minutes, sprinkling more flour (but very sparingly) as needed. For an illustration of the mixing and kneading process, you can refer to the photos in the pandesal recipe.
- Form the dough into a ball. Lightly coat the inside of a large bowl with oil. Put in the dough, rolling it around to coat every part of the surface with oil. Cover the bowl with cling film. Leave the dough to rise for two to three hours.
- Peel off the cling film. Punch down the dough to release the air. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about two minutes. Allow to rest for about ten minutes.
- Now, the filling. Note that you can add the garlic, onion and herb when you add the flour before the first kneading but the moisture from the garlic and onion (if using fresh) will make the dough more difficult to handle. So, I make the dough first and add the filling later. And here’s how I make sure that that filling is evenly distributed.
- With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle (or as rectangular as you can manage) about half an inch thick. Mentally divide the dough into three portions. Spread the garlic, onion and parsley (or whatever herb you’re using) at the center portion.
- With a short end of the dough near you, fold the dough to cover half of the portion with the spices.
- Fold the other short end to cover the rest of the portion with the slices.
- With the vertical line (where the two fold meet) perpendicular to you, roll out the dough to make a larger and thinner rectangle.
- Do this gently as you don’t want to knead the bread excessively.
- Fold the two short ends so that they meet at the middle.
- Repeat the rolling and folding once last time.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle about half an inch thick.
- Cut the dough into twelve equal strips. Cut each strip in half.
- Take a strip. Roll into a thin log.
- Lift the log and make a knot. Repeat until you have 24 knots.
- Now comes the second rising. To coax the bread knots to rise upward and not sideways so that I’d have uniform sized bread, I put them in a muffin pan. Whether you want to use a muffin pan or not is entirely up to you.
- Once you have the 24 bread knots, leave them to rise for an hour.
- About ten minutes before the hour of second rising is up, preheat the oven to 325F.
- Bake the bread knots for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with butter on the side. They were wonderful with my spinach and mushroom soup.