(Recipe adapted from the book "ultimate bread")
Dry yeast - 2 tsp
sugar - 1/2 tsp
water - 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup
Unbleached flour - 3 1/2 cups
salt - 1 tsp
olive oil/veg oil - 2 tbsp + for glazing (can use egg wash too)
nigella seeds/fennel seeds/sesame seeds - 2 tsp
Note:- All ingredients should be at room temperature
Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a bowl.Leave for 5 mins,then stir to dissolve.This should be done just before adding the yeast to the flour.Avoid using metal bowls or utensils to prepare yeast.Metal can impart an unpleasant aftertaste to the yeast mixture.
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl.Make well in the center and pour the dissolved yeast and the oil.
Mix in the flour.Stir in the remaining water,as needed to form a firm soft dough.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.Knead until smooth,supple and elastic ,about 15 mins.Initially the dough will be stiff but will soften and stretch gradually as you continue kneading.
Put the dough in a clean,oiled bowl,turning it to coat evenly with the oil.Cover with a dish towel,then let it rise until doubled in size,about 1 1/2 hrs.To check if the dough has completely risen press it gently with your fingertip.It will not spring back completely if its completely risen and spring back at once when the rising is incomplete.
Punch down the dough and rest for 10 mins.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.Roll each piece into a smooth ball and put it on a lightly floured baking sheet.Roll out each piece to form a 1/4in. thick round.Cover with a dish towel and let it rest for 20 mins.
Preheat the oven to 425 deg F
Use the blunt edge of knife to gently draw 4 parallel impressions across on top of each dough,then 4 more in the opposite direction.Brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle the dough with the seeds evenly and bake for 10-15 mins,until puffy and golden in color.wrap the breads immediately in a dishwtoel to keep the crust soft and prevent from drying out.
To check the doneness of the bread: -
A well baked bread should be golden brown in color,not too pale,not too dark in color.The texture and feel of bread should be firm to the touch without seeming hard.The best test is to listen to the sound of the baked bread when it is tapped on the underside.it should sound slightly hollow when it has been properly cooked.