Dan Lepard calls it the easiest loaf in the world and I would quibble with this, having found out how easy Jim Lahey's no-knead bread is but semantics aside, this is a most excellent recipe. (As an aside, I have recently being gently rebuked at work for being too literal with the truth in newsletter articles so one might claim that Dan was just in search of a good headline.) In fact, the two recipes have some similarities in that they are both more interesting in letting the dough sit for a reasonable length of time to let the dough develop slowly rather than pounding it like a punching bag. Not much stress relief but excellent bread!
Dan does suggest in his basic techniques advice that the kneading is a token gesture and it is the time it sits and the interactions between the ingredients that makes more of a difference. I was interested to read him say that if you reduce the salt, the bread will rise faster. I sometimes do this because I find that some bread recipes have too much salt for my liking.
Like the no-knead bread, this recipe is forgiving of busy lifestyles. Rather than having to attend to my dough, I was able to leave it and watch E unpack his case to produce all manner of cute clothes for Sylvia, cookery magazines/books for me, and momentos of his recently departed mother. I was also able to leave the dough and go shopping by myself, a rare treat when I have been the sole carer of an active toddler for the past couple of weeks. I have written up notes on how I made the bread and you will see I didn't always read the recipe too closely. When you hear that I put the dough in the oven while trying to wash the dishes, help E get Sylvia to sleep, and watch telly, I hope you will understand why.
After reading Jim Lahey's advice that bread straight out of the oven is still baking and should cool before it is cut, I had the patience to wait for about an hours before cutting myself a slice. By then E and Sylvia were sound asleep. I ate it warm with butter and marvelled at how good it tasted. The dark crust that I had worried I had burnt was soft and full of flavour. The middle was slightly sweet and full of interesting textures. There are other variations at the webpage where I found the article so I will be back for more.
The loaf was eagerly sliced through on Sunday. E loved it with a bit of cheese. So did Sylvia and I but it needed something else. I had some pesto in the fridge and blitzed a few spoonfuls with a tin of cannelini beans and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a lovely dip that all of us enjoyed. This dip was excellent in a sandwich with roasted pumpkin and brussells sprouts today, though I am still envious of Lysy's working lunch she made with this bread accompanied by salad, cheese, pickles and hummus. So much nicer than the soggy sandwiches caters often deliver to our working lunches.
This is a bread I would welcome at any lunch, a bread I will make again, a bread I am proud to share. I am sending it to Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly round up of yeast baking on the blogs at Yeastspotting. I have just noticed that there is a search field for YeastSpotting - there are always such fantastic breads here and now you can search them so I recommend you check them out if you are interested in baking bread.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WTSIM ... Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart
This time two years ago: Promoting Promite
This time three years ago: Where have all the vegetarian salads gone?
Dan Lepard’s multigrain and honey bread
Adapted from The Guardian, Saturday 24 November 2007
For the sponge:
- 225ml warm water (about 30-35C)
- 1 level tsp easy-blend yeast
- 175g strong white bread flour
For the grains:
- 50g rolled oats
- 50g linseeds (flax seeds)
- 25g pumpkin seeds
- 25g sunflower seeds
- 3 tbsp honey
- 100ml boiling water
For the dough:
- 100g strong white bread flour
- 75g wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 25g unsalted butter
First mix the flour, lukewarm water and yeast to make the sponge. Dan says to scald a big mixing bowl but I forgot. He said to cover and leave for 2-4 hours or overnight. I left mine 6 hours because I was busy but I was glad I waited because after 2 hours it looks fairly similar but after 6 hours the sponge was nice and bubbly which I am sure made a difference.
While the sponge is rising, prepare the grains by mixing all the ingredients (oats, grains, honey and water) together in a small bowl. Leave to cool.
When the sponge is ready mix in the soaked and cooled grains. Then rub butter into the remaining flours and salt in a medium bowl, and stir into the sponge. Mine was quite stiff. Cover and leave in the bowl for 10 minutes. Then knead lightly on a well floured board (for about 1 minutes) 3 times at 10 minute intervals. NB I used a lightly floured board but I now have read Dan’s basic techniques notes where he says that he just uses a lightly oiled board to knead to avoid having to add more flour (which changes the moisture content) and he only kneads for 8-10 seconds.
Dan then advises to lightly flour the bench, roll out the dough, roll it up and put it in a 2lb loaf tin but I just made it into a log and put is on a baking tray. I greased the tray and then scattered some wheat germ on it. (But I might try my loaf tin next time). Cover and leave in a warm place for about 1½ hours until the dough doubles in size. I placed clingwrap on it and it stuck so next time maybe I need to grease the plastic or flour the dough. Dan says to slash with a razor or serrated knife – I tried but am unfamiliar with the technique and slashed and then scattered with wheat germ rather than the other way and as a result found my slashes full of wheat germ.
Heat the oven to at least 220C – 240 C and steam if you like. Dan talks about steaming in his notes but I hadn’t read these and just did a half-hearted squirt of water into my oven which probably didn’t do much. I cooked it for 20 minutes at 240 C and found it was very dark coloured. So when the recipe instructed to bake at 200 C for the next 20 minutes I put mine on the middle of my oven. I also cooked it upside down for another 5-10 minutes to make sure the bottom was brown enough. Keeps for 2-3 days.
On the Stereo:
Classical Brits 2010 (Giveaway with the Mail on Sunday): Various Artists