whole wheat masala bread

Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

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Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

If there is one food that I could probably find hard to live without, it would have to be bread. The scent of freshly baked bread from the oven is intoxicating but there is also something equally exciting about preparing bread from scratch at home. When I first started to cook, I found bread making a challenge, I’d end up with “loaves” that would have made better door stoppers or paper weights. After a few tries, I was almost ready to give up until I came across a few cookbooks that were solely devoted to baking bread and I decided to give another shot, perhaps I still had hope. 

Among the bread cookbooks that I treasure the most, one of my personal favorites, is “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. They’ve made things simple and easy, which for me is a win-win all the way! I’ve made several of their breads at home and they never fail. It’s one of the bread cookbooks that showed me the light!

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

My dad had a favorite bakery, it wasn’t really close to where we lived (and we had other bakeries that were closer) but for some reason he’d insist on getting his “masala bread” from here. Masala bread was a baguette-shaped bread that was buttery and soft mixed with spices, it was tasty but I hated making the trek out to get this loaf. With all the traffic congestion in Bombay, it probably took me an hour and a half to two, to get this loaf of bread! And I complained and whined, but finally when I did sink my teeth into it, I’d remember why the long journey was worth it. 

Today, I’m sharing my version which is whole-wheat and every bit as delicious as the one from Bombay. You can also find this recipe on Steller

 

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown TableWhole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

Kitchen Tips:

  • Use cornmeal or semolina to keep things from sticking. If you don’t have either of those use parchment paper. 
  • A pizza peel is helpful when it comes to moving the resting loaf, again parchment paper can be used a substitute here to moving the unbaked loaf.
  • Pizza stones are a great way to get even baking when it comes to bread. However, you can also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Once you toss the water onto the metal baking sheet in the oven and shut the door, DO NOT open the door to check the bread until the end stage of baking. The steam is important to creating a good crust on the surface of the bread loaf.

Whole Wheat Masala Bread | A Brown Table

whole wheat masala bread  (adapted from “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)

yields: one 10 inch loaf

ingredients 

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala 

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon lime zest, fresh

1 1/2 cups water, heated to 100F

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 lb whole wheat flour + extra flour for dusting

cornmeal or parchment paper for baking 

1. Mix the turmeric, garam masala, oregano and lime zest in a small bowl and keep aside until ready to use. 

2. Add the salt, yeast and sugar to the water and stir.

3. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the liquid mixture into the center. Stir with a wooden spoon or with your hands until almost combined. Toss in the spice mixture from earlier and combine until it forms one large sticky ball of dough. 

4. Cover the dough (not airtight), allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. The dough will rise and collapse. (you can keep the dough in a well oiled bowl to rise).

5. On a clean surface, using wet hands quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides rotating the ball, a quarter turn, as your proceed. Shape into one 10 inch-oval loaf. 

6. Lightly dust the loaf with a little flour. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, make 5-6, half-inch cuts along the length of the loaf. Allow to rise for one hour, uncovered on a pizza peel covered with a little cornmeal or on a sheet of parchment paper. 

7. Place a place a wire rack in the middle of the oven. Then place a pizza stone on the rack. Place a second wire rack with a metal baking sheet (don’t use glass) on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. 

8. After the bread has risen for 1 hour, generously sprinkle cornmeal on the surface of the heated pizza stone. 

9. Carefully transfer the loaf using the pizza peel or parchment paper onto the hot stone. Pour a cup of tap water (at room temperature), onto the lower baking sheet, immediately shut the oven door. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the surface of the loaf is firm to touch and deeply browned on the surface.

10. Once the bread is baked, remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice the bread with a sharp serrated knife and enjoy! 

15 Responses

  1. i was always afraid of playing with yeast but now its starting to become an addiction…i cant wait to try this one…lovely slits and loaf altogether Nik

  2. THIS is steller 😉 I’m a huge bread baker (I have sourdough in the oven right now!) and I love your take with the addition of masala. How wonderfully warm and fragrant. Your photography truly captures the art that is bread baking- moody, creative, unique. Beautiful work.

  3. Absolute heaven! I’m a definite carb lover, but there’s something magical about your choice of incredible spices and those heavenly pics, that make me want to get in my kitchen & bake…even in the lead up to summer here 😉

  4. Absolute heaven! I’m a definite carb lover, but there’s something magical about your choice of incredible spices and those heavenly pics, that make me want to get in my kitchen & bake…even in the lead up to summer here 😉

  5. I just made this bread and it is one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever had! The flavors evoke a carrot-cake almost– and the zing from the lime zest is perfect! I did make a few tweaks- I always get a bit scared of hockey-puck-style whole wheat bread so I replaced 6 ounces of whole wheat with all-purpose flour. I couldn’t make it right away so I covered the dough and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. It took a few hours to warm up and rise once removed, after which time I punched it down and shaped it into a loaf. Before baking I slathered it in an egg wash with amazing results. I was a bit skeptical about 1) no kneading and 2) how dry the dough was– but the result but heaven. I can’t wait to make again and share with everyone I know!

    1. Yay, I’m so happy you liked the bread and thankful that you will spread the word. I need to try out the ratio you used, it sounds perfect!

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