Last week, I mentioned my need for a few little calming rituals, like my coconut chai tea. My brain is particularly whizzy at the moment (hence, I went to my first yoga class this week – and loved it), and if I’m up really early, I quite like to go downstairs, say hi to the dog and have a little potter in the kitchen. At the moment I’m a bit obsessed with baking bread – I tend to bake two loaves at a time, using my standard, lazy recipe (which doesn’t involve any kneading at all). I’ve mentioned before that rye is really good for you – I don’t make 100% rye bread, which we find too strong, but when mixed with white flour, this is our absolute favourite. Another bonus of home made bread is that it lasts ages when compared to shop bought, which seems to go mouldy very quickly. This particular recipe has rosemary added, which is surprisingly delicious. Here’s how to do it:
Because I’ve been away quite a bit, I’ve really missed pottering in the kitchen, and the first thing that I wanted to do was bake. Oh wait, that was actually the second – the first was tidy up and put everything back where I like it – but then it was bake. I absolutely adore breadmaking: I love the delicious smell and the sense of achievement (and the fact that this recipe makes two loaves, because the first one gets scoffed instantly). What I don’t like is kneading. This recipe is 100% perfect WITHOUT kneading, and I know, because I make it nearly every day.
So I’ve been reading up on our new abode (I know I should think of some funky new name, but I also know it will continue to be English Towers – why fight it?). The village was listed in the Domesday Book (thank you Wikipedia), and the hill overlooking the village is not only a site of special scientific interest, but crossed by the Ridgeway as well. There’s also a very old windmill here, and it’s suitably mental as it has a Bedfordshire postal address, even though it’s actually in Buckinghamshire. Perfect.
So that’s geography and stuff out the way – what else is there? Well, very near there are beautiful fields with snaking chalk paths through lovely woodland:
… and lots and lots of rosehips and crab apples (I’m thinking jelly – once I’ve got to the bottom of my Dispreputable Dad’s cooking apple mountain – another mahoosive bag appeared yesterday):
Anyhoo, with most of the unpacking done (it still looks like an explosion has occurred, but we’ve ordered chests of drawers, so it’s Not Our Fault, okay?), and a spectacular cackling and chocolate biscuit session with the gorgeous Glamorous C (she walked – WALKED! – from her house up to here. I was duly impressed), it was time to hit the kitchen…
One of English Dad’s students has his own bees and brings him pots of the most amazing Buckinghamshire honey known to man – it’s fragrant and delicious, and was used accidentally as I was making my usual soda bread but realised at the last minute I didn’t have any black treacle. I’ll never use black treacle again now as this honey makes a spectacular loaf:
100g white bread flour
450g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk (or just add the juice of 1/2 lemon to whole milk and allow to sit for a while)
2 tbsp oil (I use the amazing local rapeseed oil)
2 tbsp honey
So preheat your newly clean, sparkly oven to 200 degrees/gas 6 and oil a loaf tin (do it well, or better still, line it with bake-o-glide, it sticks like a biatch this stuff).
Sieve the white flour and bicarb (make sure you sift the bicarb well – otherwise it will manifest itself in the finished bread as little green dots – not pleasant) then add the wholemeal flour and the salt.
Measure out the buttermilk (or lemony milk) then add in the egg, oil and honey. Whisk well.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Flop the mixture straight into the loaf tin and straight into the oven. This is lazy person’s bread – no rising or kneading here.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the bottom is hollow when you tap it (ooer missus). I take it out of the loaf tin around 45 minutes just to make sure the bottom is baked and gets a crust too.
This recipe is gorgeous with added nuts and seeds, but won’t keep, so if you’re not going to scoff it straight away, slice and freeze it for instant yummy breakfast toast.
Thank you Buckinghamshire bees! I can see I’m going to be very happy here.
Now I’ll confess I have a tendency to fiddle with recipes. Usually this is just a personal taste thing, or sometimes it can be because they’ve got too many ingredients and I can’t be arsed to put them all in. This time it’s because I live in the middle of bloody nowhere and couldn’t actually find some of the ingredients. The original recipe from my mate 73 (he adds 3 tbsp bran and 2 tsp wheat germ, as well as the odd handful of nuts or seeds) is linked here and is incredibly good so please try it out. Here’s my pared down tinkered-about-with version of Mr 73’s proper Irish brown bread which we scoffed, in its entirety about 5 seconds after it came out of the oven
300g coarse brown flour
200g plain white flour
Â½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp black treacle
450 – 500ml milk
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the black treacle then enough milk to combine into a lovely pasty mess.
Butter a loaf tin then bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at gas 6 (200º), then another hour at gas 3 (170º).
It’s a testament to the simplicity of this recipe that one of my kids turned the oven off by accident half way through cooking. When I discovered, I quickly turned it back on and it still came out perfect. It makes a beautiful, moist, dense loaf, which is crying out for a thick covering of butter and some really good jam. Nice one, 73.
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