Following my post last week about our daily soda bread with yoghurt, I had a very useful note from John Curtin, Spade Work: From Plot to Plate, about his breadmaking: Soda bread is delicious but it doesn't keep....that's if there is any left over. We regularly bake a quick no-knead yeast bread Ballymaloe Brown Bread aka Doris Grant Loaf. Only eat shop bought in an emergency!
Years ago, I used to make the Doris Grant Loaf - somewhere I've got a copy of her wonderful book Your Daily Bread. I'd never heard of Myrtle Allen, or her Ballymaloe Brown Bread, which is a variation of the DGL. Both are good tasty loaves, full of flavour - the molasses gives a complex depth which is particularly good in toast. Both versions are little trouble to the cook - just what's needed for a daily or near-daily chore.
So I got to work. Easy. But the finished loaf sunk in the middle. Well, I was using my old tins, AND I didn't have any wholemeal flour, so I was using spelt. Perhaps that was it. New pan, followed the recipe to the letter. It rose too fast, flowed over the edges - and sunk in the middle, a depression where there should have been a dome.
Meanwhile, I'd ordered Myrtle Allen's Ballymaloe Cookbook (from Abe, it cost less than the postage), hoping that I would find more detail than on the internet. No such luck - although it's full of lovely dishes, so not a waste of the few pennies it cost.
I'm giving the recipe here ... but I'd be really glad if someone who is familiar with this method could give me a few pointers. Just so's you know, I'm using dried yeast (not instant); I haven't been putting a tea towel over the dough as it rises, because I'm always afraid it will stick, and I didn't want to flour it (I'll try that next); and the kitchen is about low 60s F). Any ideas?
Ballymaloe Brown Bread
3 1/2 tsp dried yeast
400 ml water
1 tsp molasses or black treacle
500g wholewheat flour
2 tsp salt
Grease a large loaf pan and warm it in the oven at 120C for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle the yeast into 150ml of water; allow to dissolve before adding the molasses. Leave until frothy (about 10 minutes), add the rest of the water (250ml), stir.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture to a well in the middle, and stir into a thick batter. Keep stirring until it forms a soft and very sticky dough, but leaves the sides of the bowl. Put this into the prepared tin. Cover with a dish cloth and leave until it rises to the top of the pan, which should take no more than half an hour.
Bake at 220C for 30 minutes, then at 200C for a further 15 minutes. (I always take the loaf out of the tin for the final five minutes, whatever I'm baking, to get an all-over crisp result; this may reflect on my poor-quality tins.) Use the tapping-test to check that it's done.
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