Friday, 30 May 2014

three seeded loaf

Tuesday morning started at 4.30am. Keeping hours like these makes me think I could be a baker after all. In one of the moments where I tried to gather my head from the drunk-swimming sensations that came in waves throughout the day, I thought about what I would do in that moment if I were able to do anything at all. A memory came to me of our trip to America in 2012. The last place we stayed on our road trip was the beautiful Millenium Biltmore Hotel. One afternoon, while Becky and I were waiting for John and Tim to return from their trip to Six Flags, I went for a wander with a copy of Kinfolk under my arm. Earlier that day, Becky and I had our first experience of an Anthropologie store. I have never spent as long in a shop as I did in Anthropologie on that day. While there, I had picked up a copy of Kinfolk and felt like I had found my dream magazine. Here was essentially a journal of beautifully curated articles, featuring the kind of photography and typography I love, brought together around the themes of food.

So it was with this excitement about reading the pages of Kinfolk, that I set off in search of the nearest coffee shop. (Wondering how I get to talking about bread from here?! Stay with me, we’ll be there soon…) In this particular volume of Kinfolk, there were pictures of bread, not always the recipes, but featured because they were part of the story. Stories of picnics, breakfasts shared with neighbours, fresh bread shared with babes, and shared at the heart of meals with friends. I felt so inspired to flex my baking muscles beyond making sweet treats, and to learn how to work with yeast. I even dreamed of the blog series I could write about Bread: The Simplest of foods, the finest of flavours as I sipped my coffee in LA. In my baby induced, sleep deprived state, this was the place that I wanted to go back to. Not so much as LA, just the opportunity to sneak away to a coffee shop by myself with a new copy of Kinfolk to read and be inspired by.

When we returned home from our American road trip, I went back to baking bread in our trusty breadmaker, always with the thought, 'I really must try and make bread by hand.' It wasn't until we were about to move house last year, and my bread maker gave up on us, that I finally turned my hand to making bread from scratch. My younger brother gifted me Paul Hollywood's book, 'How to Bake', which made the process so very clear and simple. 

So for the last year, I have been making my bread by hand, and have been thrilled with the results. I have had the occasional flop, like the time when Ruby was two weeks old and I prepared the dough, left it to prove, knocked it back, left for its second prove then went to bed and forgot about it. This resulted in over fermentation and a very quirky shaped loaf:

I am just starting to feel confident enough to try adapting bread recipes, and this three seeded loaf is what I came up with this week. I have enjoyed eating it for lunch, slathered with soft goats cheese and Major Marshall's chutney (made by John's Aunt Martha).
Three Seeded Loaf
ingredients
250g strong white flour
150g wholemeal bread flour
25g unsalted butter at room temperature
5g salt
7g yeast
40g / half a cup flax seed
60g / half a cup combination of sunflower and pumpkin seed
250ml cool water

method
1) Place all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer.
2) Gradually add the water - you might find you don't quite need all 250ml, or that you need a little extra. You want the mixture to be combined well but not sticky. If you have a sticky dough, just add a touch more flour.
3) Knead the dough for 5-10 mins, until it is smooth and stretchy. If your dough is sticking to your hands, put a bit of oil on them, and it'll work a treat at releasing the dough from you!
4) Remove the dough from the bowl, and lightly oil the bowl. Replace the dough back into the bowl, then cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove (rise) for at least 1 hour. The dough will still be fine if you leave it for 3 hours.
5) Once your dough has doubled in size, knock the air out of it by kneading it slightly. Shape the dough into your desired loaf shape. If you are making a round cob loaf, place the dough onto a lightly oiled baking tray. If you're making a tin loaf, place the shaped dough into the tin.
6) Put the dough inside a plastic bag, or large plastic container with a lid, if you happen to have one spare. If you're using a plastic bag, make sure that none of the bag is actually touching the dough, and tuck the bag around the tray or tin, creating an air pocket.
7) Leave to prove for a second time, for 1 hour.
8) Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200C / gas mark 5
9) Once the dough has proved for a second time, remove from the bag and place the tin / tray in the oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom.

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