Easy bread recipe
There is so much disagreement about what constitutes a healthy diet. Should it be low fat or high fat, low carb or high carb, meat eating or vegan, gluten or gluten-free, the list goes on. One thing that most advocates of healthy eating do agree on is that highly processed food is less healthy. I try not to avoid any food groups completely in order to eat as wide a range of food as possible and in that way get a wide range of macro and micro nutrients. One thing I want to continue to eat occasionally is bread, but a lot of shop bought bread is not very appetising and has some extra ingredients to help the industrial scale processing. I love my home made bread and use an incredibly easy no knead recipe that I adapted from the James Morton book called Bread. (He was a finalist in the Great British Bake-Off).
There might seem like a lot of instructions but it really is easy, but you do need to be at home for about 3.5 hours for the whole process. We made a loaf of this bread on the Positive Paths to Wellbeing course as part of our discussions on eating healthily. It was finished in minutes!
- Measure 300g of strong white bread flour (preferably organic if you can afford it– I like Doves Farm) and 200g of strong wholemeal flour into a bowl. You can add 20g of mixed seeds at this stage if you like seeded bread. See notes on seeds at the end. Use a fork to stir the flours to mix.
- Add a sachet (7g) of fast action dried yeast on one side of the bowl and 8g of fine sea salt (or table salt) to the opposite side of the bowl. Salt can deactivate the yeast so it is best to keep them away from each other at this stage.
- Using the fork, mix the yeast into the flour keeping it to one side of the bowl and mix the salt into the flour on the other side.
- Fill up a jug with lukewarm water (it should feel just barely warm to the touch). I pour roughly 100ml of boiling water into a 500ml (pint) jug and top it up with cold water and adjust the amount of cold water until it feels lukewarm.
- Pour 375g of this lukewarm water into the flour. I do this by putting the bowl on the scales and slowly adding the water and watching the scales carefully.
- Now using the fork, mix the water and flour mixture thoroughly until you have formed a dough. There is no need to use your hands, a thorough mix with the fork will bring it all together. (Image 1)
7. Now cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for 40 minutes, preferably somewhere not too cold.
8. After about 40 minutes it should have risen quite a bit. Wet the fingers of one hand and use it to work around the bowl scooping up the edges of the dough and pushing in down into the middle. Work your way round the bowl until you have worked all of the dough and it has flattened down a bit. (Image 2)
9. Re-cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for another 40 minutes. (Image 3)
10. Now turn the dough out onto a well-floured baking tray and knead gently to form it into a ball. (Ok I said no kneading but this is not really kneading – just a gentle shaping!). (Image 4)
11. If you prefer you can shape it and but it into an oiled loaf tin at this point.
12. Cover again with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 40 minutes until well risen.
13. While the dough is rising turn on the oven (at 200oC for a fan oven) in order to give it a chance to get really hot before you bake the loaf. Place a large roasting tray in the bottom of the oven (for adding water to make steam – see 16).
14. For a seeded loaf, just before baking, brush with water and sprinkle some seeds onto the top.
15. With a sharp knife score a diamond shape into the dough to allow the loaf to expand when being baked. (Image 5)
16. Tip a jug of water (about 500ml) into the roasting tray and then place the baking tray with the loaf in the middle of the oven.
17. After 30 minutes remove the bread from the tray and return it to the wire shelf in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
18. Remove from the oven. It should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. If not cook it for a bit longer.
19. Leave to cool on a wire tray and once cold, slice and enjoy.
The bread keeps well for a day or two but I usually slice and freeze any that is left after a day. It toasts well too.
You can play around with the quantities of white and wholemeal flour. I like to use half wholemeal spelt flour and half wholemeal for a more dense, flavoured loaf.
My seed mixture contains sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, golden flaxseeds and milled linseed (I use a packet of milled linseed that also contains Goji berries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds from Aldi).I use this mix in bread making but also sprinkle it on natural yoghurt.