Gridlocked

I have been getting so many requests about this pretty little loaf, that I decided to post the technique used to create it. Now after you read the entire post, and ponder long and hard over the numerous pictures I have posted, do try it out because I am sure you are going to elicit a ‘Wow’ response from those who set their eyes on it. I had actually seen a picture of a bread which looked a lot like this online. When I showed it to a friend she said ” Why on earth would you want to imprison the poor loaf?” and I said ” Can’t you see, THAT is a tight hug!”

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The bread sort of lingered on in my mind (it has that sort of effect) and I was determined to try it out. I found a recipe somewhere online, not particularly for this techinque, but something that would create a dark dough. They had wanted me to add diastatic malt powder to the dough. Now where on earth was I going to find it? All I got was strange looks from various vendors when I told them I wanted 100 grams of this substance. So it was back to the drawing board and I decided to make my own. All I needed to do was sprout the grains of wheat, dry it in the shade and grind it. Full of hope, I added it to the dough and the result? Oh well, the dough did get a little more toasty brown, but it was no way as contrasting as I would have liked it to be.

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Then one day, I made a Marbled Rye bread. For me that was an eureka moment. Why should I not add cocoa to the dough? I had done that before and it worked fine in one bread. So why not another? So this timeI added a little cocoa powder to the dough (trust me you will not taste the cocoa in the bread) and the colour I needed was perfect. The addition of the cocoa also made the dough a tad less sticky which made it easier for me to roll it out and cut it.

Now, there are going to be a lot of pictures to help you along. There is no real recipe here, so I suggest that you pick one bread recipe that has worked best for you. Use a simple recipe which has pretty much been fool proof for you (let us experiment with one thing at a time) One piece of advice though, try not to pick a super wet dough.

Once you have the dough all ready cut off a little less the 1/4 portion of the dough ( once you have worked on this technique a couple of times you will get the hang of how much you will actually need) Add a couple of spoons of cocoa to the smaller portion and knead it in until it is completely incorporated. (no streaks of brown and white allowed). Next you just need to lightly oil two bowls and place the dough in the respective bowls and cover them and wait for them to double.

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So far simple? Now I am going to post so many pictures that I make myself absloutely clear. Take the white dough out and gently de-gas the dough. Now start shaping the dough into a boule ( a round) or a batard ( a longish) loaf. Make sure you shape it well and the loaf is tight and has no seams on top. Set that aside and take the dark brown dough. Lightly flour the surface of your counter and roll out the dough into 1/8 inch thick round or rectangle (this will depend on the shape of your loaf). What you need to watch out for is that you roll it big enough to completely encase your shaped roll.

If you have a lattice cutter which you would normally use for your pie crust, now is the time to bring it out. Use the roller and cut the dough. Then gently stretch it to form the lattice. Be gentle. Over stretching will break the delicate structure. Stretch evenly for if you don’t, your grid will not look even. Don’t worry you will soon get the hang of it.

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A lattice roller cutter
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Dough cut with the lattice cutter
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The stretched dough

If you don’t have no fear. Bring out your sharpest knife and this is what you will need to do.

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Follow this pattern and cut with a knife
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stretch the dough so it forms a lattice

Lightly mist your white loaf with some water and place it top side down and wrap the lattice over so the entire loaf is covered in the grid. Cut off the excess and tuck in any stray edges. Make sure the to pinch the ends so they do not open up during the second rise.

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Place the roll on a baking tray and cover. Wait till the loaf is almost double. Now go back to the recipe which you have been following and pre-heat the oven to that temperature. Brush the loaf with milk/cream/egg as the recipe demands and bake until done.

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Well, that is all there is to it. You have your lattice bread ready to go. If you are feeling really good about this, the next step would be to make two completely different kind of dough. Let us say you add beetroot to one for a deep pink colour and spinach to the other for a dark green. Just imagine a green loaf, encased by a pink grid. Just use your inagination and create a pretty loaf. In the end that is all that matters. Place the loaf on your dinner table and get ready for all the compliments which are going to come your way.

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