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Pao (Bread)

With the coronavirus, we are on a lockdown in Mumbai.  It’s only my third day at home and boredom is beginning to set in. Baking is therapeutic and so decided to bake my own bread. It’s an exercise in patience! 

Credit: Xanti Pinto

Collect it:

+ 4 cup All-Purpose Flour (about 500 grams flour)

+ 2 tsp Instant Yeast (Check recipe notes below)

+ 2 tsp Granulated white sugar

+ 2 tsp Salt

+ 8 tsp Butter (1/2 stick butter(about 4 tbsp)) {2 tbsp oil if you are lactose intolerant}

+ 1 1/2 cup Warm Milk (It should be warm and not HOT. See recipe notes) {almond milk if you are lactose intolerant}

+ 1 Egg (Well beaten,ONLY for brushing top of bread before baking or use milk)

+ 2 tsp Oil (for greasing bowl and baking pan)

Make it:

Keep all ingredients ready.

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter. Add warm milk gradually and knead it to form a very

soft dough. (It may take about 1 1/2 cups warm milk, BUT add more warm milk little by little IF REQUIRED)

The dough has to be very soft when pinched.

 Apply oil to a bowl(about 1 tsp oil), place the dough in it and cover the bowl with a cloth. Keep the bowl in a warm place for about 1 hour till the dough has doubled in size. (It may take longer than 1 hour to double in size depending on the weather, maybe 1.5 hours to 2 hours. Warmer the climate faster it will double in size).

Place the dough on kitchen surface, lightly remove the air from dough by punching dough. Divide dough into 15 portions.

Weigh the dough out and divide into 15 portions. This ensure even sized bread. Form balls of each portion and place them on a greased baking tray. (Baking tray size is about 13X9X2 inches) Cover tray with cloth and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.(Again, depending on the weather).

 Preheat oven at 425 deg F (220 deg C ; Gas Mark 7). 

 Brush top with egg or milk. (See Recipe Notes)

Bake for 10 mins. Remove from baking tray. Brush top with butter.

Cover pao in cloth for at least 30 mins before serving. (See Recipe Notes)

Recipe Notes

For best results, be precise with measurements, patient in letting the dough prove  and follow instructions to the letter 

While kneading the dough, see that the milk is warm but not hot. With hot milk, the yeast will commit suicide! Leave the dough to ferment for at least an hour. 

Brushing top of pao with egg before baking will give a nice shine to the baked pao. Or you can brush with milk on top.

Keeping baked pao in cloth for 30 mins immediately after baking makes them very soft, as they tend to be very hard immediately after baking.

The Difference Between Active Dry Yeast & Instant Yeast:- The difference between these types of dry yeast is simple: active dry yeast has a larger granule and needs to be dissolved in water before using, while instant yeast has a more fine texture and can be mixed right into dry ingredients. (Difference Description from Internet) I used instant yeast as per mentioned in recipe so mixed in dry ingredients directly.

If you are using dry yeast (use 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast ) , then mix yeast with the amount of sugar mentioned in recipe, 8 tbsp warm milk and leave it aside to ferment for 15 mins. Then use the yeast while kneading the dough.

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