Bread making is a very rewarding endeavor and it comes with fond memories for me. It takes me back to a time when I was in middle school and had a Canadian neighbor who made this most gorgeous and delicious loaf of poppy seed braid. I was so captivated by it that I had requested for her to teach me how to make it. You can read about it in my Lemon Poppy Seed Braid post. I made a couple of loaves, left off, and got busy growing up. I related this story to Ro-Ri San and some eight years back, he surprised me one day with a bread machine while we were still living in Colorado. I am very fond of this machine and I have put it to good use, making two to three loaves of bread each week. It even has a dough cycle and I sometimes use it for hand shaped loaves.
Colorado is a very challenging place to do any kind of baking because of the high altitude, low atmospheric pressure, and low humidity. Adjustments have to be made or cookies will come out flat as pancakes and cakes collapsing half way through baking. Breads present a special challenge and may require several tries for each recipe before the right balance is achieved. While it can be frustrating to a novice, it is also a great learning experience. I have found out the hard way that bread recipes are more of a guide than an absolute measure of ingredients. No matter where you live, the amount of flour, fat, liquid, and leavening agent has to be adjusted accordingly because of weather conditions and altitude of the place. Less liquid is needed on rainy or snowy days and less yeast is required the further away from sea level. Adjust liquid by each tablespoon and leavening agent by each quarter teaspoon.
I am thankful for this “training” because I was more able to handle gluten-free bread making when my boys needed to go on a gluten-free diet. It was quite a challenge to work with flours such as rice, soy, buckwheat, sorghum, garbanzo, potato, and corn which have no elasticity to them. I would have been in great despair had I not had the experience of bread making before. I highly recommend The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman for those who have to live with a gluten-free diet.
Now, coming to these delicious loaves, I want to thank my talented blogging buddy and friend, Denise of Bread Expectations and Quickies on the Dinner Table, for creating this recipe specially for me. Denise blogs out of Singapore and is the author of Quickies, Morning, Noon and Night. I had the privilege of meeting her during my last visit to that part of the world. Denise knows how much I love homemade breads and enjoy Marmite, a vegetarian yeast extract that is said to have that umami flavor. I absolutely agree with her that Marmite is one flavor that you either love or detest. I grew up with Marmite and like Denise, I have taken it as a “tea” diluted in water, spread on buttered bread, and mixed into congee. Today, I have heard that Marmite is used by some restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore to prepare shrimp and vegetable dishes. Denise, on the other hand, has come up with something totally original and creative with this fantastic Black Pepper and Marmite Boule.
I was drooling while reading her post and got to work right away as I had all the ingredients at hand. I had just enough Marmite in the jar to swing this recipe. I followed it closely and made only minor adjustments to the amount of flour, water, and yeast to suit the conditions in my kitchen. This is the first time I used my new KitchenAid stand mixer (Christmas gift from Ro-Ri San) for bread making. I made two loaves with the dough and though they are not as bowl-like or gorgeous as Denise’s, they are still beautiful. I dusted them with flour and more cracked black pepper as instructed, giving them a rustic look. The aroma 10 minutes into baking was incredible! The crumb was tender and has a very fine texture. These are very tasty loaves and I hope you will give them a try.
Please click here for the recipe at Denise’s blog. While you are there, do leave a comment and check out her other fantastic bread recipes. Her pictures and style of writing are sure to captivate and have you going back for more. For quick and tasty meal time solutions, try her other blog Quickies on the Dinner Table.
On with the recipe…
Flour, sugar, black pepper, salt, and yeast were first mixed in the bowl. I then added the butter and diluted Marmite. To get every ounze out of what was left in the jar, I had to pour in the measured amount of water and give it a good stir.
I used up all the Marmite in the jar. Time to get another jar soon or I won’t be able to make more of these delectable loaves. This jar of Marmite was sent by my dear childhood friend and avid follower of Roti n Rice, who now resides in the UK. She is my trusted source for British goodies like Digestive Biscuits, lemon curd, thick cut marmalade, and Yorkshire Gold tea. Time to pay her a visit and stock up on more goodies.
The flour and all other ingredients were mixed for 3 minutes scrapping the bowl where necessary. It was left to rise for 15 minutes. The mixer was turned on again for a second kneading of 8 minutes.
The dough was allowed to rise in the mixing bowl for 1½ hours until more than doubled in size. It was very soft, silky, and gooey at this point.
The dough was then shaped into two loaves, dusted with more cracked pepper and flour, and left to rise for another 60 minutes. The tops were slashed and these fully proofed loaves were ready for the oven. Look at that gorgeous caramel color!
It was so fun to see the loaves rising.
Done! Fresh out of the oven!
This bread is excellent slathered with butter or cream cheese. It is also delicious toasted with shredded cheese on the top.
I have included the recipe here, slightly adapted from Bread Expectations for my own reference.
- 3¾ cups (560g) bread flour
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp coarsely crushed black pepper
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- 1 sachet (2½ tsp) instant yeast
- 2 tbsp Marmite
- 1 1/3 cup (320ml) water
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
Combine bread flour, sugar, black pepper, salt, and yeast in the stand mixer bowl. Whisk till well mixed. Snap bowl into the stand mixer and attach the dough hook.
Stir Marmite and water together until Marmite is completely dissolved. Pour this liquid into the flour mixture. Turn on mixer to speed 2 and allow it to mix for 3 minutes, scrapping down the sides of the bowl and dough hook when necessary. Remove bowl from stand mixer and cover the bowl with a dinner plate and allow it to rise for 15 minutes.
Snap the bowl back into the stand mixer and turn on machine. Allow it to mix for another 8 minutes until dough is very elastic and smooth.
Remove the dough onto a lightly greased surface. Form into a neat, tight ball. Grease the inside of the bowl and place the ball of dough inside with seam side down. Cover the bowl with the dinner plate and allow it to rise for 1½ hours or until more than double in size.
Lightly grease your hands. Gently turn out the dough onto your work surface and divide it into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball by rotating and tucking the dough under itself until the top is smooth and tight.
Place balls of dough on a try lined with parchment paper. Dust with more crushed black pepper and flour. Cover loosely with shrink wrap and allow it to proof for 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Slash a cross on the top of the loves about ½-inch deep. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 375°F (190°C) and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove and cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!