Friday, September 22, 2023


There truly is nothing like homemade bread. I love the whole process, from the mixing, to the kneading, to the shaping, to finally taking out a golden loaf out of the oven.
It is one of the most comforting foods for me, especially just baked. Those moments of carefully trying to remove the piping hot crunchy bread crust, only to be greeted by an even hotter fluffy crumb, simply waiting for a spoonful of jam or a savoury spread, those moments are the very epitome of comfort to me.
I also love the adaptability of any bread recipe, the endless possibilities of enriching and shaping the dough. From a humble soft loaf to an intricately braided one, simply in a matter of minutes.
This little loaf is truly a breakfast perfection; soft, fragrant, and ever so slightly sweet. Simply divine even for brunch or a snack, especially with a nice fruit preserve or jam, and a sliver or vegan butter.
Keep in mind that you can vary the flavour to your liking, and I encourage you to do so. If you prefer, you can use regular teabags of hibiscus tea instead of dried calyces; simply use three or four bags, to get the maximum flavour. Or you can use two tablespoons of hibiscus calyces, for an even more prominent flavour.

350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams granulated sugar
1 generous tablespoon dried hibiscus calyces
200 millilitres water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
25 grams fresh yeast
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
few drops of vegan pink food colouring, optional

Start by making the hibiscus tea. Place the calyces into a medium bowl, and bring the water and sugar to a rolling boil over high heat. Remove it from the stove, and pour over the hibiscus. Cover the top and let it steep for about 10 minutes, until the flavour develops and the water cools down. Once ready, strain the tea well, pour it into a large bowl, add in the oil, and crumble in the fresh yeast. Mix well so the yeast dissolves, and then let it stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. When the yeast is ready, add in the vanilla and the orange zest, and mix well.
Sift in half of the flour and the salt, and mix well with a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula. Sift in the rest of the flour, and proceed to knead with your hands, either in the bowl or a floured work surface, for 3-5 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If desired, add a drop of two of vegan pink food colouring, and knead it through. Place the dough into a large bowl, cover it, and let it rest and rise for about an hour.
Once the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide it into 12 pieces by weight, and form each one into a little sphere. Line a small loaf tin (9x18 cm) with baking parchment, and place the dough pieces in two rows. Cover the top with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. Once risen, generously mist the dough with cold water, and bake it in a preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 25-30 minutes, until baked through and nicely browned. Let it cool down slightly and serve. Yields one small loaf.

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