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23 September 2015

Seeded Wholemeal Loaf


There's something just beautiful about home made bread, the therapeutic kneading of it, watching it double in size as it proofs and then the wonderful freshly baked bread smell that fills the house as it's baking, not to mention the taste of still warm from the oven bread with some butter and jam on top. Even just thinking about it is making my mouth water! With the seasons changing and it getting colder everyday, the weather calls for more soups and stews, which of course you have to serve up with fresh bread. Before today I'd made bread a few times by hand and lots of times in a breadmaker when I was growing up (which doesn't really count as 'making') but I always love the taste of home made bread that you just can't find in a shop bought loaf.


I started looking at lots of recipes online, with the intention of simply making one to eat and not writing a blog post, but as I began to look I couldn't find any simple recipes that used cups as a measuring system (no one in our house owns a set of kitchen scales) and weren't overly complicated in the process of making. So I looked at a few recipes to try and gage the quantity of water to flour needed, followed the instructions on the yeast packet for the volume needed and then kind of guestimated the proofing time needed from a combination of my own instincts and from what I learned watching bread week on The Great British Bake Off, to how the bread should look before baking.

Since moving into my new house I have learnt that even though an oven may say one temperature it does not mean that it is actually that temperature inside, so today I got to use my new oven thermometer for the first time and I can say with confidence that I actually baked my bread at 230°C (450F)! This bread recipe uses minimal ingredients for a healthy seeded wholemeal loaf that is simple ,easy and utterly delicious, lovely to eat at any time of day and can also be toasted.

 It's also important to mention that I used dried active yeast in my recipe, so it takes 15 minutes to activate in warm water and is not the same thing as instant yeast which is ideal if you're using a breadmaker as it does not need time to activate before using. One very important ingredient is the type of flour used, use a strong wholemeal bread flour, this means the gluten content is high, which gives the stretchiness of the bread and gives it the desired texture. If you follow the recipe then you can't mess this bread up, however, as I've learnt, different ovens do differ slightly - or in my case a lot - from the temperature set so the baking time may vary from person to person, but mine took 16 minutes to bake at 230°C. You know it's done when its golden brown and crisp all over, if you tap on the bread with your knuckle it should sound hollow too, after it has cooled the crust will soften.
Seeded Wholemeal Loaf | Yield: 1, 500-600g loaf | Total Time: 2 hr 30 mins | Prep Time: 25 mins|  Proofing Time: 1hr 45 mins | Baking time 15-20 mins  


You'll need


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Baking tray
  • Measuring cups
  • Whisk
  • Oil for greasing
  • Clean tea towel

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast (not instant)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 cups water (1/2 cup boiling, 1 cup cold)
  • 4 cups strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup mixed seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 cup cold water, then add 1 tbsp sugar & 1 tbsp dried active yeast and whisk together. Wait 15 minutes until the yeast is bubbling, then whisk again and immediately add in 4 cups flour and 3/4 tsp salt.
  2.  Combine the mixture with a spoon or your hands and then transfer onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes. Then add in the mixed seeds and knead until these are distributed evenly. 
  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, place a tea towel over the top and leave in a warm/ draught free place for 1 hour.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead well for another 5 minutes, then form a round shape with the dough and place on a large greased baking tray, re-cover with the tea towel and leave for another 45 minutes. At this point, pre-heat the oven to 230°C/450°F.
  5. After the 45 minutes, score the top 3 times with a knife, brush the bread lightly with a tbsp of olive oil and then place on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. The bread slices best when cooled but if you can't resist eating it warm then it can be sliced slightly thicker after 5 minutes of being out of the oven and enjoyed with some vegan butter and jam!
Cassidy xx

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