In India, we have some kind of un-written pledge about having roti, parathas, basically flatbreads at home. Another side of our preferred food catalogue has a prominent broach of bread. But we unknowingly, desist to acknowledge the companionship that bread provides for many of our favourite foods. For an instant, take our street food, pav baji, keema pav, vada pav and bread burji, and we can not forget the humble Bun Muska that brings in oodles of joy to our carb-loving bellies. The fact is, bread is there, we just avoid baking them at home.
History – Actually the bread culture is a benefaction of Portuguese to our nation. If you dig deeper into the history of Ladi pav, it shows its origins from Western states as well as from Northern parts of India by Muslims traders and rulers. When Portuguese were in Goa and Cochin they missed eating crusty loaves of bread. They needed breads for their Holy Communion as well. Because of no-yeast presence, they started to ferment the dough using toddy and baked bread on the hot surfaces. My guess is, they must have gone through many trials and experiments to get it right. Yeast came to India from Egypt and refined flour arrived via the Middle East. Pav became food for Muslims and Catholics, while Hindus stuck to their traditional non-maida flatbreads. But gradually it became a matter of convinces for many and we got into a pav (bread) culture mainly for our street food. British arrived with sandwich bread later, and it was fancy fondness that time. Hence become a commercial product for us.
Ladi pav, in particular, is associated with many stories. Some say, pav means (quarter or 1/4th) and you get it in the set of four and then break off each mini loaf to eat. They also say that the dough was kneaded with feet that time, hence the name Pav.
Portuguese gave the name Pao, which means bread. Now that is the story, I would like to believe in more.
The recipe of Ladi pav is simple. If you ask me, bread baking is all about the technique of kneading and handling the dough. If you get that right, you can bake bread at home very easily. Lucky us, we have machines to do the job for us. Hand kneading can be done, I still manage to pull up good bread baking at home, without any machine. But when lazy, I end up getting the ingredients into the machine and enjoy the absolute existence of provisions that are today, making our life easy.
I am sharing with you how to bake a good batch of Ladi pav at home without any fuss. Follow it and you are sure to win an impressive batch of baked Ladi pav at home.
If you want to change to a healthier version and make whole wheat Ladi pav, you can very well switch half the maida mentioned in the recipe with whole wheat flour. But to be honest, you will not receive that feather-soft interior. Which can be a godawful affair for a food-loving palate.
I suggest adding milk powder to the maida for a charming milky smooth flavour siege. Also when kneading the dough, I prefer using milk.
When it comes to kneading the dough, make sure to add liquid to the flour slowly and gradually. So you have control over to the consistency you will achieve in the end. With less chance of inaccuracy.
Yeast is responsible for leavening bread. Gloripan Instant Dry Yeast – (500 Grams) In more succinct terms: Yeast is awakened by water (or other liquids), it metabolises the sugar, and then releases carbon dioxide into the dough.
I have absolutely no intention to confuse you. I recently have recorded a yeast oriented podcast, you can listen to that to get the basic frame of understanding yeast.
In this recipe, I have used instant yeast, which is very effective and is an easy way out for baking bread at home. You don’t have to activate it with warm water before adding to the recipe. Just double-check on the expiry date before use.
Kneading of the dough is important, as it provides strength for the structure formation. Flour contains two proteins that combine to form gluten which is responsible for creating the elastic texture in the dough. As we mix the ingredients and make a rough dough, the proteins are in a random pattern and knotted together. When the dough is kneaded, the proteins begin to line up in such a way that strands of gluten develop and create a structure that allows for the trapping of gases and the dough to rise.
If you have a dough kneading machine, you are in absolute heaven for bread baking. Wonderchef 1000-Watt Stand Mixer (Red) If you have an electric hand mixer with a dough hook attachment, you can reach to the heaven of bread baking easily. And if you are kneading with hands you will have to work hard to reach to the heaven of bread baking.
Simple steps to knead the dough with hands
Use a counter or tabletop that allows you to extend your arms to knead the dough while not making you hunch over a table. First combine all the ingredients in a bowl, to form a dough ball. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the countertop.
Begin kneading the dough, pushing it down and then outward, only using the heels of your hands.
Fold the dough in half toward you and press down. Then use the heels of your hands again to push down and then outward, lengthening and stretching the strands of gluten and dough fibres.
Turn the dough about 45 degrees and knead again with the heels of your hands. If it is getting sticky, add a little more flour (but be careful not to add too much flour). Continue to knead, folding and turning the dough, until it is smooth and supple. Have patience and I promise, after 10 minutes of kneading time, you will have the control on the sticky mass and it will start to take a structure.
Be mindful of adding too much flour, though, since doing so can result in a crumbly bread. If your dough continues to be sticky but you feel like you have added enough flour, let the dough sit for 5 minutes, which allows the water to absorb the flour; this will make the dough easier to handle.
If you are unsure if the dough has been kneaded enough, you can do the “windowpane” test. Remove a small bit of dough (about the size of a golf ball) and hold it between your thumb and first two fingers of each hand so the dough is in front of you. Then, gently pull your fingers and thumbs away from each other to stretch out the dough. If the dough doesn’t break, it means you have kneaded it enough; if the membrane pulls apart, you need to knead it a bit more.
I prefer to add butter (room temperature) to the dough, at the end of the kneading. After you add butter, knead it for a couple of more minutes and it should result in a smooth, soft elastic feel.
After the kneading and gluten formation, it is important to give the dough some rest for proofing. Proofing time depends on temperature. Warm atmosphere will speed up the process, whereas a cold climate will slow down the proofing. But we have to wait, till the dough gets double in size. But don’t forget to cover it with a damp kitchen towel during rest time.
When dough doubles, punch it to release the air. Be gentle while handling the dough as it can harm the gluten structure.
Divide the dough into equal portions of 50-52 gram each. Shape them round and place on a greased baking tray. Prime Bakers and Moulders Multipurpose Aluminum Rectangle Baking and Roasting Tray for Oven (Silver) Keep the dough portions bit closer, touching each other. Otherwise, they won’t rise up, but rise sideways and become flat. Cover them again with a kitchen towel and let them rest until they double in volume.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 °C. Brush the dough with milk before baking. Now bake the buns in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or till they are evenly brown from the top.
Tip: If you feel the Ladi pavs are browning too fast, loosely cover them with aluminium foil and continue to bake.
After baking, take the tray out from the oven and de-mould the Ladi pav. Place the Ladi pav on a cooling rack and brush them with butter. Applying butter immediately after baking will help to soften the crust.
Plain Flour / Maida – 2 Cups (250 Gms)
Milk 190 Ml
Salt – 1 Tsp (5 gms)
Butter – 4 Tsp / 20 gms
Milk Powder – 1½ Tbsp / 15 Gms
Instant dry Yeast – 2 Tsp / 8 gms
Sugar – 1 Tbsp / 15 gms
Milk & Butter – For Brushing
Maida/Flour – for dusting
Oil – for greasing
Add the maida, instant dry yeast, salt, sugar and milk powder in the stand mixer with dough kneading hook attachment. Start the machine and gradually add the milk to knead the dough. Keep the machine running and knead for 10 minutes.
Now add the butter (room temperature) and knead more. It will turn from a sticky mass of dough to a dough that is smooth. When the gluten is activated and it is ready, will take more 15 minutes of kneading for reaching that stage.
After 15 mins of kneading, transfer this dough to a big bowl, cover and keep aside for 45 mins to one hour.
It will double in volume after one hour, take some maida dust your hands and punch down the dough. Take out and knead for one minute.
Now divide this dough to equal portions. Roll this in a circular motion to make a round shape.
Take an 8″ square cake tin and grease with oil, (line the base of the tin with a piece of parchment paper) place the shaped dough. Keep the dough portions very close touching each other. Otherwise, they won’t rise up, but rise sideways and become flat.
Now cover the tin with a damp cloth and keep aside for another 40-45 mins.
Preheat your oven to 180*C for 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the damp cloth after 30 minutes so that they don’t stick to the cloth.
After 45 minutes, brush the pav gently with milk. Gently place the cake tin in the oven and bake for 15- 20 minutes.
If the buns don’t look brown, bake for some more time. Take them out immediately and brush the top part with butter. Keep aside till they cool and ENJOY!