The perfect Saturday morning. Quiet, except for the rain. I was enjoying my Typhoo tea to the tune of monsoon season, with the smell of fresh bread permeating my little apartment. And it dawned on me that homemade bread and lazy mornings can be synonymous.
Like many Western foods, it can be difficult to find good quality bread in Korea. Bakeries like Tous Les Jours and Paris Baguette can be spotted on just about every street corner even in the most rural towns, but the bread is tragically mediocre.
No crusty artisan bread, rich rye, or nutty whole grain loafs. Just overly fluffy sweet breads stuffed with oily creams or plasticky cheese. While I do enjoy a sacrilege croissant and a double shot cappuccino from Tous Les Jour once in a while, my bread cravings needed to be taken into my own hands. As in, kneading it with my own hands.
I’ve been thinking about making bread for a while in my little toaster oven, but the thing that really pushed me over the edge was actually making cheese and yogurt. The processing of these leaves behind a highly nutritious byproduct called whey, which is a translucent yellowish liquid that tastes similar to milk before it’s processed.
Not wanting to waste this healthy byproduct, I looked into alternative uses. My whey came from making paneer and greek yogurt, which means it’s acid, rather than sweet whey. Sweet whey is a bit more versatile and can be re-purposed into ricotta cheese. Acid can be used for smoothies, soaking grains and legumes, skincare, and baking. I chose the latter, giving into my cravings for a good hunk of crusty bread.
Given that I have a micro-kitchen with just a toaster oven, I opted for the simplest recipe I could find. I came across this 90 Minute Man Bread Recipe from Don’t Waste the Crumbs while reading about uses for whey. I call it Stupid Bread because it’s stupid how easy it is to make.
I had to make a few adjustments to make it work in my kitchen. I don’t have a fancy upright mixer with a kneading attachment, so it’s all manual for me. I used my giant kimchi bowl because its big enough to mix and knead in, keeping all the mess contained in a smaller space.
Being as lazy as I am, I skipped the initial 10 minute kneading in the mixer for about 1 minute kneading by hand. I can’t compare to the actual instructions, but this method produced some pretty damn good bread.
Another thing I had to be cognizant of is the size of my oven. The first time I made the bread, it rose so much that the top started to get a little too golden before the middle was perfectly cooked. So I lowered the bottom rack and reduced the temperature from 200 C to about 185 C to allow the middle to cook through a bit more.
This is what the yeast looks like when it’s ready.
The finished product is dense and soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside.
The best part about this bread is how versatile it is. I enjoyed this bread fresh out of the oven with a bit of butter, toasted with cream cheese, fried up in a grilled cheese, and a disgustingly delicious monte cristo!
Grilled Cheese with egg on the left, cheese-stuffed savoury french toast on the right.