Daily Bread

I’ve been on a baking jag lately. It doesnt bother me that I can’t eat the fruits of my labour, I enjoy baking for Tony and for friends. I’ve mastered the art of the muffin (apple and blackberry is the favourite one so far), I made a very successful monkey bread for friends last night, but I’ve yet to bake a really good loaf of bread.

I think the trouble is, I want to bake healthy bread, wholemeal, grainy, old fashioned bread. I’ve tried various permutations, including oats, seeds, and a half/half blend of white flour and wholemeal flour, but my loaves are coming out very dense and heavy, not at all what I want. At some point I’m going to give sourdough bread a try, but until then, does anyone have any foolproof bread recipe or bread baking tip they can share? Tony’s tummy will thank you!

10 thoughts on “Daily Bread

  1. the talahasa bread book is cracking! but i can’t find it, will email it when I figure out the spelling!

  2. Love to mix spelt flour with white for a nice nutty texture, and try using fresh yeast to make sure it proves properly. I’ve got a bread maker and follow the instructions for that but this recipe looks worth a try just because its quick.

  3. I’m not familiar with British flours, and I never use a recipe when I bake myself, but these are my general guidelines for baking wholesome, tasty and fibrous breads: First of all, it takes time. The key to success, I find, is to allow plenty of time to prove and to work the dough powerfully for a long time before the first proving. I do this in a machine, but if you do that manually you get yourself a handsome upper body workout while you’re at it 🙂
    I make a blend of crushed grains and seeds (5-6 deciliters – I like crushed rye, rolled oats and sunflower seeds), salt (2 teaspoons) and golden syrup (1 tablespoon) and pour 5-8 dl of boiling water over, stir thoroughly, and leave until it has reached room temperature. This can take a couple of hours. This procedure renders a moist and soft bread even if it’s chewy and wholesome.
    Then blend mix with another 2-3 dl of water (37 degrees, body temperature) and a small amount of yeast (dry or fresh according too your preference) and enough white bread flour to make a sturdy but sticky dough. Work the dough in a kitchen machine for at least 15 minutes, then leave to prove until doubled in size. This can take several hours when the dough is fibrous and grainy. Divide dough into two loaves, knead very well, and put in oiled bread tins to prove for yet 45-60 minutes. Stick in a very hot oven (I use 250 degrees) with fan, and bake on the lowest rack for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to about 160 degrees, no fan, and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes. Remove from tins and leave to cool on a rack under a clean teatowel.

  4. I failed spectacularly at bread making until I bought a Panasonic Bread Making machine 10 years ago. Since then, we rarely have shop-bought bread. I have never had a ‘bad loaf’ from the machine which has had two replacement paddles and one pan. My best wholemeal loaves are a mix of spelt (75%) and white (25%) flour. They rise really well and are scrummy.

  5. Have you tried adding the oats/seeds, etc. towards the end of your second knead? I don’t know if it will make a difference as I use a breadmaker for most of my baking due to Amelia’s allergies, but it often says to add ingredients at the end of the dough stage.

    Am planning to start a beer and honey loaf tonight to bake on Monday.

  6. I have been baking bread for quite a few years now and have made several heavy “bricks” in my time. However I have a recipe now which makes really light and tasty wholemeal bread. I use 600 grams of wholemeal bread flour, a small handful of porridge oats, one teaspoon of salt and one heaped teaspoon of fast acting dried yeast. Mix in a generous 400 ml of water and a melted knob of butter. Knead for 10 minutes. Put it in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and leave it to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours (less if the weather is hot). Then gently squash it down, shape it into an oblong without tearing it and put it in a bread tin. Let it rise for about half an hour and then bake it for 10 minutes at 230centigrade, then lower the heat to 200 and bake for another 30 minutes. I use Marriages stoneground organic wholemeal bread flour or Waitrose stoneground organic wholemeal bread flour (actually I think they are the same) and they both make much lighter bread than any other types of wholemeal bread flour I’ve tried. Good luck.

  7. I too use a breadmaker and have experimented with all kinds of combinations of wholemeal, spelt, seeds, oats. I have finally settled on a recipe from the Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook by Jennie Shapter. It’s for a maple and oatmeal loaf. I don’t use oat bran as suggested but replace it with more rolled oats and vary the end result by sometimes adding sunflower or pumpkin seeds or a mixture of both. Although it sounds odd adding maple syrup to the mix the end result isn’t at all sweet but deliciously savoury. I have never had a heavy or poor result with the breadmaker and am now brave enough to adjust recipes to suit my taste. Leaving the machine out on the work surface ensures that I use it regularly – I make about threes loaves a week. You can also use the machine to do the heavy work and take out the dough to finish off yourself in a conventional oven – for pizza, for example or focaccia. Well worth the initial outlay.

  8. Have you tried the no-knead bread? Because of the very long rising time and because of the cooking method (inside a pre-heated casserole) it always gives a wonderfully light loaf. The recipe is here and can easily and successfully be adapted to include any flours or seeds you like: http://bit.ly/9o4qjL