Monday, August 30, 2010

Rwandan Honey Bread

When most people think of Rwanda in Central Africa, genocide and conflict come to mind.  However, things are different today and some differences may surprise you.  Even though this country is landlocked, they do have a very large lake.  This lake is an exploding lake due to the volcanic activity below.  The release of gases from the volcano could cause death to many, yet they have found a way to harness the gas for energy.  Saving lives while taking energy out of the ground...well, that is quite a concept!

Anyhow, below you will find the recipe for Rwanda's light and airy honey bread.  This bread is great for breakfast or anytime of the day.  One unique aspect is that it is baked in a 3 quart casserole dish instead of a loaf pan. Also, between the air conditioning and ceiling fans, it is hard to find a draft free place. I use my oven as the warm place for dough to rise. I heat the oven temperature to 150 and then turn the oven off.

Rwandan Honey Bread
adapted from best bread recipes
1 pkg dry yeast
1 egg
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
4 tbs melted unsalted butter
1 tbs ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbs melted butter

Put the lukewarm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top.  Wait a few minutes and then stir.  The waiting time keeps your yeast from being lumpy and not dissolving.  Once stirred, put in a warm place for about 5 minutes or until doubled in size.

In another bowl, whisk together the honey, egg, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and salt.  Then add your yeast mixture, milk and the 4 tbs of melted butter until all is combined.  Put in 2 cups of the flour and use a mixer to blend together.  That should take about a minute or more.  After that, you will need to mix in the rest of the flour with a wooden spoon or by hand.  Once mixed, the dough should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl but still be somewhat sticky when handled.

Flour a surface for kneading.  This is the only additional flour you will be using while kneading.  To prevent dough from sticking to hands, cover them with some melted butter or oil.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and shape into a ball.

Put the dough ball in a buttered large bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, which is about an hour.  While the dough is rising, you can prepare the three-quart casserole dish. Melt the additional 2 tbs of butter and use a pastry brush to butter the bottom and sides of the dish.

Once your dough has risen, punch down and knead for two minutes.  Shape into ball and place in prepared dish.  Press down so it reaches to the sides of the dish.  Then it will need to rise again for an hour, doubling itself.  This is the last rising process, so preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

After an hour of rising or the doubling process, place the dish of bread in the oven for about 50-60 minutes.  When done, the bread will be crusty and light golden.  In my oven, 60 minutes was perfect.  After baking, pull pan out and flip bread out onto a cooling rack.  I have made this bread twice.  Once it fell out of the dish easily and once required a knife to be slid around the inside edge for it to release.

Now, a word of caution-do not make this bread when people are visiting.  The aroma after about 1/2 hour of baking will get them very hungry and then the additional wait will cause the bread to be completely devoured once it comes out of the oven!  So no bread tomorrow....