As a child I always wanted white bread as I couldn’t bear the idea of eating brown bread. Maybe subconsciously I knew that during some stages in history brown bread was associated with being poor and as a child I didn’t want that association. Little did my not so wise young mind know that from the 19th century brown bread had become more in fashion and white bread became cheaper to produce so all could purchase it at a more reasonable cost.
One of the exciting things about becoming a teenager and then an adult is that your palate matures and you realise that you like different foods and are willing to experiment with them. As a foodie this new discovery was very much welcomed. I quickly realised that I actually preferred a fresh slice of brown bread rather than its white counterpart. The mere thought of Skippy peanut butter or cream cheese melting on a warm slice of brown bread just makes me salivate. I have always been envious of those who enjoy just putting butter on their bread as it looks like a perfect match and so tasty, yet it just doesn’t lend itself to me.
Whilst still in Israel after Pesach, I was discussing with my grandparents that lack of decent bread bakeries in Israel, especially in Netanya. It’s become common practice to just buy your bread in your local Co-op or supermarket, rather than a local bakery. I think this is a sad reality and my dream would be to rectify this situation. I therefore felt it was my grand-daughterly obligation to bake my grandparents a decent loaf of bread before I returned to England. Now you need to understand that my Grandmother in someone who prefers her whole grains and very rarely has white flour or sugar available in the house. The only flour that was available was 70% brown, something that once again I wasn’t used too (see Challah post). The only option was to make a 70% wholemeal bread and hope for the best. However, I wanted to add something to this whole meal bread, and after rummaging through the cupboards (bearing in mind this is the day after Pesach when the cupboards hadn’t been fully restocked) I found some pumpkin and sunflower seeds, with fine oats to use as the topping.
With some thanks to Jamie Oliver for his simple bread recipe, which I have to say was really easy to use and the additions of the seeds after the dough’s first proof, I was very pleased with my results. The dough was one of those dough’s that doesn’t need extra flour or oil on the surface because it doesn’t stick, as you add the water to the mixture slowly, allowing you to gauge how much you need rather than adding it all at once. It was fairly straightforward to shape the loaves and after a little searing with the knife and oats for decoration I was proud of how they looked. Once cooked, it was judgement time. The census came back that it was tasty bread with an even consistency. However I felt that the consistency was a little too heavy and there could have been a few more seeds added. I think I will be trying this bread again, but using brown flour available in the UK and varying some of the seeds. Any suggestions of what seed combination to next include?
- Try to avoid a baking tin when making brown bread, as brown flour holds its own shape much more that white flour, allowing the cooked product to look more rustic as it is able to get an all-round even crust.
- Only use seeds and nuts that you like – that may sound obvious but it’s worth stating anyway.
- Don’t be scared to try out different combinations of seeds, nuts and dried fruit, you may stumble across something that is unique and really yummy.
- If your dough is too sticky to knead on just a clean surface, add oil not flour to the surface, as by adding flour you are changing the consistency and possibly drying out the dough.
p.s here is the link to Jamie Oliver’s basic bread recipe. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/basic-bread-recipe/#OGO4oyqi6fI6IpsM.97