At the moment I’m feeling an even stronger desire to make, I mean more so than usual. Not just to knit which is normal in my line of work but to sew and as you’ll have seen on my Instagram feed, to bake. If you follow my posts @jeanettesloan you’ll know that the only thing I like more than cooking is filling my ever greedy face and, whether it’s batch cooking meals for my parents or using back-of-the-fridge leftovers to create masterpieces like the brussel sprout omelette and if I’m please with the results I’ll post about it. I do however have ‘off days’ when I’m really too tired to bother or there’s been some sort of culinary disaster and though they are few, you really don’t need to see those. After all this is the perfect world of social media.
But this weekend the knitting stars aligned and like many others currently feeling that knead to bake ( thanks coronavirus ) I was inspired to make some bread. I won’t be entering Bake Off any time soon but I got so fed up with eating crappy, pappy, poor quality shop bought loaves that I really craved something gnarly, nutty and tasty. So I attempted my first granary loaf and the results were pretty good even if I say so myself. I’ve made white bread before but was a little apprehensive about granary – I was nervous that what I thought of as ‘heavier flour’ would produce a boulder like loaf that would be impossible to slice. But no, the bread was blooming when it came out of the oven and as I was asked to share the recipe, I’ve included it below along with my own tweaks and observations.
I know we’re currently living in scary times and as I’m no virologist I don’t have any expert advice to offer but I’m limiting how much of that coverage I expose myself to. Why? Because being bombarded with information and misinformation about coronavirus has a variety of effects ranging from unsettling to nightmare inducing so I guess my need to make is one response to it.
Thankfully I work from home but I’m limiting how much I socialise with other people not just for myself (and them) but also because with parents who are 90 and 96 with a number of underlying health conditions I can’t put them at risk. If we look after ourselves and each other we can get through this. Please don’t stockpile supplies – e.g. toilet paper, pasta, baked beans, paracetamol – think about the impact of your actions on others.
Enjoy the recipe and if you give it a try let me know how you get on
This is based on Paul Hollywood’s Malted Loaf recipe from How To Bake
500 g / 1 pound granary bread flour ( I used Hovis granary bread flour )
5 g / 1 teaspoon salt
10 g / 2 teaspoons fast action dried yeast
30 g / 1 ounce butter, softened ( the original recipe called for unsalted butter but I didn’t have any)
300 ml / 10 fluid ounces cool water ( I actually used tepid water )
Olive oil for kneading
How to make
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and tip the salt onto one side and the yeast onto the other side. Now the original recipe says ‘add the butter’ but gives no details as to how. So i softened my butter for 30 seconds in the microwave then cut it into small lumps and dotted it around the flour before mixing it in with my fingers and gradually adding the water. The flour should gradually come away from the sides of the bowl and into the mix, if you need more water add more – I had to, probably about another two thirds but be guided by your mix. It should be soft but not soggy, when it is kind of rough in texture use it to clean the inside of the bowl.
Coat a clean work surface with a bit of olive oil and tip the dough onto it then knead. This bit was hard. I mean really hard ( perhaps my mix didn’t have enough water at this point – I’ll adjust this next time) so I kneaded it for 20 minutes. Yes 20 minutes, I’ve got the arms to prove it (no baking pun intended). The other thing I found as I was kneading was that the seeds in the mix shot outwards covering the kitchen in a bizarre shower of edible shrapnel – I put it back in, kneaded a bit more and back out it came. In the end I gathered it in a small bowl for adding back in later. If you can’t bear to knead for 20 minutes do it for at least 10 or until it feels smooth and ‘silky’. You should get a feel for the change in texture.
Next lightly oil the inside of a large bowl and put the dough into it, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for at least an hour. It needs to double in size. I left mine for 3 hours in front of a still warm woodburner stove (full of smokeless fuel FYI).
Line a baking sheet with enough baking parchment to cover then lightly flour a clean working surface.
Now scrape the dough onto the work surface and knock all the air out of it by folding it in on itself – here’s where I re-introduced the seeds that were previously rejected at the kneading stage. When the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and place in on the baking tray. t prove for the second time place the tray inside a large clean plastic bag. I have a clean bin liner that I keep for this and I place a small drinking glass upside down in each corner of the tray to keep the plastic off the bread as it rises. Leave to prove for a further hour, the dough should double in size and spring back quickly after you’ve given it a loving but light prod with your finger.
Now it’s time to bake so heat the oven to 220ºC / 428ºF. Dust the loaf with flour or in my case I brushed it with milk and offered the top some more of the rejected seeds before putting in the oven for 30 minutes. Check that it’s done by tapping the bottom of the loaf – if it’s ready it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!