JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, March 16, 2007

A plain spelt loaf

This bread is one for beginners, as it is easily and quickly made, and very good - Horatio ate it up in double quick time, and now I must go and make another one! I found the recipe on a great blog I discovered this week, Bread Water Salt Oil. I read June's post and went straight to the kitchen to get started.

Once you've made bread with spelt, it's hard to go back to "ordinary" wholemeal flour. I can make a white loaf, no trouble, but any attempt at wholemeal loaves - they've been hard as bullets, only eaten out of politeness or necessity. I've bought several books on the subject, but they haven't made the difference. But spelt - easy to handle, delicious to eat, and with added historical romance, the bread of choice of the Romans. You barely need to knead it, and you cook it in moderate oven, not the usual hot one.

I've made a few changes to June's recipe, mainly because, unlike her, I can't get hold of fresh yeast. If anyone can tell me where to buy it, I'd be really grateful - I've more or less given up looking, because, for a while, it became a bit of an obsession. Now I use dried yeast (NOT instant yeast), and find it gives good results if you use half the amount of fresh yeast specified. This loaf in the picture was made in a great hurry, with only one rise in the tin (see tip below), but, as you can see, still has a pretty good crumb. (It just doesn't look as good as it should, with its rather flat top; the double rise gives a springier dough, and so the top is beautifully domed).

Plain spelt loaf

500g spelt flour (I use Bacheldre, which you can get in Waitrose)
5g dried yeast (the sort that comes in tins, not the instant stuff from a packet)
2 good pinches of Maldon salt
1 tbsp oil
warm water

Mix the yeast with a little warm water (and the merest hint of sugar to get it going, one tiny pinch should do the trick) and leave to one side for 10-15 minutes until it foams up. Add it to the flour and salt, together with enough water to make a soft dough. Don't bother to knead this, you could even stir it with a spoon, although you'd miss the sensual pleasure of making bread with your hands. It's a beautiful colour, and smells sweet. Leave it somewhere warm to double. This will take perhaps an hour, perhaps less. Then turn it into a 2lb tin, and prove (this, too, will be a far quicker process than if you were using wholemeal flour). Bake in a moderate oven, 180C, for about 35 minutes. I generally give bread a couple of minutes out of the tin at the end, and then leave it to cool crosswise over the tin, which gives it a crunchy crust.

Here's a tip: if you are in a hurry, you can turn the dough straight into the tin, leave it to rise to the top of the tin, and then cook it. The texture won't be quite so good, but it will still be airy.


Anonymous said...

Morrisons sells slices of fresh yeast, packed in styrofoam trays in the fridges, next to the cooking fats. I know Morrisons supermarkets are concentrated in the north of England, but perhaps Safeway stocks it too, by association?

Joanna said...

Thanks very much for this tip ... next time I'm passing a Morrisons, I'll have a look - but, as you say, they're thin on the ground here!

Nigel said...

If you go to the bakery at Sainsbury's and ask one of the bakers there, they will sell you their fresh yeast.

Joanna said...

Thanks Nigel .... since I wrote this, the breadmaking has come on apace, and I regularly go to Tesco where they GIVE you yeast - yes, really :)


Anonymous said...

Tesco will GIVE (no charge) you fresh yeast if you ask at the bakery! Lynn

Anonymous said...

Love this recipe but I think you might have missed out when and where to add the oil. I may have missed it, but anyway added it to the flour and it turned out great.

Joanna said...

Yes, just add the oil at the same time as the water ....