My friend Leslie has been asking me to bake some bread with her for a while now. While I might not be an expert, I do try to bake bread at least once or twice a week. And bread is all about trial and error, learning what works for you and gaining experience by making it yourself. You start to learn what to expect and what you are looking for. It’s all about taking the first step and trying it for yourself. But it’s so much easier if you have someone to show you.
So as we had a few things to sort out for school, we had some coffee and got the flour out. The therapeutic qualities of kneading dough should not be under-estimated! And kneading dough while chatting to a friend is even more therapeutic. I sent Leslie home with a bowl of dough and instructions for the next stages and she made a brilliant loaf of bread:
I decided to put mixed seeds in mine to make a change and now I’m not sure why I don’t add seeds every time. They really enhance the taste and have the added bonus of being good for you. Leslie used all spelt flour for her dough and I used mainly spelt flour: a mixture of white and wholegrain. We used fresh yeast and rubbed it into the flour before adding the salt and water. And then we kneaded the bread until it started to take on a silky consistency. You could add the seeds at the first stage but the dough will take longer to rise. Putting seeds on top of the dough at the beginning of the second rise really adds to the look of the loaf when it is baked. Although don’t be surprised if a lot of them ping off around the kitchen when you slice it.
100g strong white bread flour
250g white spelt flour
150g wholemeal spelt flour
15g fresh yeast
75g mixed seeds for the dough
25g mixed seeds for the top
Put the flours into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt and tip in the water. Mix until a dough is formed.
Tip out onto a kitchen surface and knead for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough starts to feel smooth and silky.
Put into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel.
Leave to rise until at least doubled in size. Spelt flour will tend to rise more quickly than wheat flour so keep an eye on it.
When it is ready, tip out onto a floured surface. Add your seeds:
Knead the dough until the seeds are evenly distributed throughout:
Put the dough into a well oiled loaf tin and brush the top with oil. Sprinkle over the seeds for the topping:
Cover with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel and leave to rise again: until doubled in size.
Set the oven to 210ºC and bake for around 35 minutes, or until the base sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
What could possibly be better than baking with friends and then eating the result?!