Our favourite loaf is so very simple, we thought it worth sharing. There are an infinite number of bread making additions and methods, but this is the simplest we’ve found and the results are consistently great. Most shop bought bread is nowhere near up to scratch and expensive by comparison. We buy a great organic flour that makes around five loaves for the price of one decent loaf in the shop.
It is a very easy to get a loaf baking, a great cooking technique to have in the locker. Bread making is a rewarding corner of the cooking world, with most bakers get up before the crack of dawn and are kneading and proofing alone in the dark. I always imagine that they enjoy what they do and the peace and quiet of this time. The smell of fresh bread wafting around is always priceless!
The kneading is the tough-ish bit, but is quite therapeutic and leads to well toned forearms and bulging biceps! We call it the ‘100 hand knead’ stage, in a honour of our vintage martial arts film collection. Its a real bread bashing workout and a great thing when approached in that way. After kneading you will find any previous worries or concerns have evaporated. Ahhhh, kneading is very relaxing and a little like giving your dough a good massage. I do love making bread, there is something very primal about the whole process.
I think, therefore I bake. Baking in general is a more cerebral approach and one that jars with me. I was never a fan of chemistry at school, all that fiddling around with pipettes and test tubes. Baking reminds me of that really, its a little precise for my liking. I do enjoy it however, once I get around to it and my experiments are rarely predictable! Bread making is quite different from frilly cup cakes though.
Jane and I don’t eat alot of bread, we tend to save it for a special treat and today we are celebrating Sunday. We’re both off work and ready for some home baked foods. Bread is so simple, there is no use scrimping on ingredients. Get great, organic flour if you can and a good live yeast.
Our main problem at this time of year on the Beach House is heat. We don’t have much! It can be difficult to get our bread rising in warm place, beside the fire can be too hot, we’ve tried the oven on the lowest setting and that half baked the dough. We are now trying the airing cupboard, seems like a logical place to put food!
Whole brown flour loaves can be a little on the heavy side, we use very strong flour. It makes for great, dense toast. If you want to lighten things up, add a quantity of white flour (depending on how light you like it). If you’d like to make it richer, add a tbsp of butter or good oil.
The important thing here is the whole grain wheat element. If you buy flour or bread that claims to be wholewheat, it isn’t always whole grain and that is where most of the good nutrition within flour is.
Regarding gluten-free-ness, well this isn’t, but can easily be adapted to using spelt and other flours. Jane and I have found a little wheat does us no harm at all and we feel great after munching our homemade loaves.
So here’s one of our favourite loaves, simple and lacking finesse, but you’d expect nothing more!
This recipe makes on big loaf, although we normally double the quantity and make two (one for the freezer).
500 g strong malted whole grain wheat flour, 1 teas live yeast, 2 teas honey, 1 teas salt, 1 tbs sunflower oil, 350ml warm water
We don’t have a suitable mixer for getting the dough together, so we use our hands, old school style.
Add your flour, yeast, salt, oil and honey to a large bowl. With one hand gradually pour the water into the bowl, with the other mix it in.
Get the dough out onto a floured surface, now carry out the ‘100 hand knead’ which is basically kneading the dough 100 times or for around 10 minutes. You may like to use the fist technique or the base of the palm. Whichever suits your mood. When the dough has a good bit of elasticity, form a ball and place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Then knead the dough again a few times , taking out the big air bubbles and then cover again for another 15 minutes. The more handling, the heavier the dough, so be gentle.
Now pop into a tin lined with parchment or as we do, roll into a log-like shape, the odder looking the better. Make it round for a ‘cottage loaf’, each shape has a name, why not make up a new one! Leave for another 1/2 hour to get nice and springy and light.
Pre-heat an oven to 220oc and place on a baking tray, we oil the tray if not using a tin. Bake for around 20 minutes, check after 10 and cover with foil if the top is getting too dark.
You know how you like it!
We Love It!
Better than the vast majority of baked cotton wool that you find in shops and economical and nutritious to boot.
I see bread as a powerhouse for carbs and energy. What a great idea someone had, grind wheat up into tiny particles and packing it into a tasty loaf, for workers and people lacking quantities of food, this was the ideal bite!
If you are eating whole grain wheat bread then you are getting a good dose of fibre and minerals in your loaf and not just a load of refined sugars. Whole grain bread has 4 times the amount of fibre as white. Whole grains also release sugar into your system slower, meaning less cravings for sweet foods and other blood sugar madness.
The wheat germ also contains good amounts of vitamin E, folates and even omega fats that help the brain.
If you are not a fan of brown bread, you can buy albino grains that have all the nutrition and non of the the brown.
BUY WHOLE GRAIN!
Heres some Rodriguez ‘Sugar Man’ to play when you’re kneading: