Adam’s basic wholemeal wheat loaf

 This is our staple bread and doesn’t take long to make once you are in the routine. Variations are endless – add poppy , sesame or caraway seeds; chopped garlic and cheese; fruit and butter … experiment and enjoy.

 

  • 500g wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to your preference)
  • 3 tsp dried yeast
  • 300 ml warm water (about 45°C )

Mix flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add the water whilst mixing with a wooden spoon. As the flour mixes into the water and the dough gets stiffer keep on folding it with the back of the spoon until an even texture is achieved. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours to prove. Longer is quite all right but the dough can get a little vinegary if left too long (although some people are very fond of this flavour). The dough will now be soft and spongy and should be knocked back: either still in the bowl if it is big enough or on a wooden board or table. Fold the dough repeatedly in half, pressing it down with all your weight on the heels of your hands each time. To stop it sticking to your hands dip them in some flour every now and then. This is the kneading process and ideally should be done until you are exhausted! The more you knead the lighter and more even textured your bread will be, but don’t let it get cold. When you have had enough push it into a neat shape and put into an oiled bread tin. Cover again and keep warm for about 45 mins. and then bake for about 20 mins. in a fairly hot oven. All ovens vary so you must experiment with yours to find the right temperature, position and cooking time. When bread is done it should come away from the sides of the tin easily. To release it from the base (if necessary) give it a smart bang on the floor and then it will fall out. Leave to cool on a wire grid covered with a cloth and out of reach of cats and children!

This loaf can also be cooked in the microwave but you may have to experiment a little! Put the shaped final dough into a plastic lunch box and keep warm as before for a final rise. My microwave is rated at 800w and I cook bread for 5 mins. in the middle of the turntable and then 3 mins. pushed to one edge and 3 mins. at the opposite edge. This stops hard, dry spots forming but may be a quirk of the particular machine! Tap the top and if it sounds hollow and has pulled neatly away from the lunch box tip out onto a grid to cool. If it wont fall out easily cook for another minute. This is particularly good toasted with butter and jam.

 

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