For me, part of letting nature back in, is acknowledging that many of us urban dwellers have become dependent on others, even for trivial things. Our grandparents or great-grandparents were likely to have been a lot more self-sufficient and handy than many of us urbanites are today.
Bread is a staple that crosses many cultures, and many methods of making bread by hand are still practised and new methods are evolving. Making bread at home is linking up with an ancient heritage. Here is an easy recipe for those, like me, who might initially be intimidated by cooking with yeast.
I had always thought that making bread was far too complicated and demanding for me to attempt. Until I found a simple recipe in the book Quiet Food: A Recipe for Sanity, a beautifully presented book of recipes developed at the Buddhist Retreat Centre, in Ixopo, South Africa. The recipe is for a batter bread, which means you basically mix all the ingredients (including instant yeast) together, leave it to rise once in the baking tin, and then cook it in the oven. And you have bread.
Over time, I have modified the recipe, and I share with you here, how I make this bread. It is great to make when I am in a hurry. It is tasty, at least 50% whole-wheat, and far better than most supermarket bread, and you know what all the ingredients are.
Since then, via the no-knead bread route, I have moved on to making a sourdough starter and then used that to make sourdough bread. Sourdough has become a staple in our house, but it is time consuming to make and takes a bit of planning. I still use this recipe when I need to.
So here it is: a recipe for a quick, easy and tasty loaf.
These are the ingredients:
250 g whole-wheat flour (I use GMO-free stone-ground flour)
250 g white bread flour
1½ tsp salt
1½ tsp instant dry yeast
3 tsp sugar or honey
1½ Tablespoons oil or melted butter (I use olive oil)
450 mls/450 g lukewarm water
Oven temperature is 180 degrees Celsius.
Use a higher proportion of whole-wheat to white bread flour if you prefer.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the oil and water.
Mix it all up with a metal tablespoon. The mixture is wet and tacky. Don’t attempt to use a mixer or dough hooks or even your hands – I speak from unhappy and messy experience on this aspect. Use the stickiness to your advantage and get the dough to cohere to itself, rather than to anything else! To develop the gluten a bit, I do several “stretch and folds”. That is I use the spoon to lift the dough and stretch it a bit and then drop it, turn the bowl a bit, and repeat that six-to-ten times.
Then tip and scrape the dough into the bread pan. I use a silicon baking tin that is approximately 21 cm long and about 11 cm wide. A metal pan will be fine to use too.
Leave the pan in a warm spot for the bread to rise to about double its size. Keep it covered. I place an empty bread pan upside down over the top. Depending on the ambient temperature, rise the dough in the pan for about 45 minutes to an hour. The cooler it is the longer the rise. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius so that it is up to temperature by the time the dough has risen.
You can mix a few seeds into the dough, or once the dough is tipped into a baking pan, you can sprinkle some seeds on top. I have used sesame seeds here. I have also used sunflower seeds and also added linseeds that I ground just before adding.
The above picture is taken after the dough has risen and it is ready to go into the oven.
Bake the loaf for 1 hour at 180 degrees C.
Once done, remove from the pan and cool on a rack.
Leave it to cool for about an hour before slicing and eating! This bread is best eaten on the day it is baked, but it acceptable on the following day and makes lovely toast.
And here it is sliced. Not a bad “crumb” for a batter bread.
Perhaps one day, I will share how I learnt to make sourdough starter, and the method I use to make a lovely sourdough boule.
In the meantime, bon appetit!
I had not thought that watching bread making videos could be entertaining, and probably most aren’t, but this one, on recreating bread to match a loaf found in the volcanic ash in the ruins of Herculaneum that was destroyed along with Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is definitely entertaining. It is produced by the British Museum and features the chef Giorgio Locatelli making the 2000-year old bread . Find it here
Posted by Carol