Sweet Potato and Toasted Hazelnut Pugliese Bread

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I love experimenting and if you’ve seen some of my posts you’d know that by now. And while I’m extra partial to ‘real’ breads, I also love breads that have unusual ingredients like vegetables. I’ve played around with sweet potato bread and I love what the potato does to the texture. So while exploring ratios and ingredients on the web, I came across this recipe on the Fresh Loaf. At 85% hydration, this was a challenge, but then – what the hell! Earlier, while rummaging the fridge, I had discovered some hazelnuts and when I saw the recipe, the dots connected! I concluded that I could toast the hazelnuts and add them to the bread – just for kicks. 🙂 For those of you interested in Bakers math this is 70% APF, 17% Bread flour, 10% WWF, 3% Rye flour, 22% Sweet potato, 85% water, 2.5% salt, 1% Yeast and 8% hazelnuts. This is easily going to be one of my favourites.

Pugiliese Bread, from Puglia in South Italy, has a high hydration dough resulting in large holes in a well structured crumb, and a well-developed, crunchy crust. While it looks like a Ciabatta, it is heavier and is typically made with a higher gluten flour. The Pugliese is typically shaped as a Batard (oval), and slashed with a single cut running lengthwise. I chose to let my Pugliese be a free form loaf without any scoring. Here’s how you can bake one.

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Potato and Saffron Bread

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The folks at home are tiring of my insatiable need to make ‘real’ bread – that’s with just flour, yeast, salt and water. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the bread – it’s just that they find it a tad chewy the day after (despite all my valiant attempts to crisp up the crust in the oven or lightly toast it on a pan). I like my bread a bit chewy. I enjoy the flavours that gets extracted from the chewing process and I now understand why cows just spend their days chewing. 🙂 My parents are old and Mom in particular has her grinders removed so it must be real hard on her coping up with all my experiments. So, I felt it was time to switch tracks and get into some enriched breads. And I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for long. Was a sensory delight. The potato gives this bread a moist and springy texture. The saffron adds an aromatic edge and a gorgeous, rich golden hue that’s hard to beat. Here you go –
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Saoji Mutton

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It was in 2005, I had to deliver a workshop at Nagpur and that’s when I first savoured this lip-smacking dish at the Pride hotel. Fortunately for me, there were several occasions when I had to keep coming back to Nagpur and every time I made it a point to request the banquets to serve this dish for lunch.
9 years later, on a foodies group called Experimental Cuisines I saw the recipe for Saoji Masala posted by Shilpi Sanyal. Shilpi very kindly obliged me with an online tutorial and what followed is here.

Pungent. Earthy. Robust. Piquant. These are some of the words that come close but don’t really do justice to this dish.
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