By Melanie Leyshon
The humble loaf is making waves, but not as we know it. Broccoli bread is the new low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein option, available in London, that will appeal to those Gwyneth Paltrow carb-o-phobes, who can afford to pay the minimum £20 charge for a special delivery (see planbread.co.uk).
We’re quick to blame bread for everything from bloating to weight gain, but eaten as part of a well-balanced diet it shouldn’t cause any ill effects. Even the Chorleywood process of breadmaking, introduced in 1961, which produces a low-cost loaf with a long shelf life in double quick time (often including flour improvers and additives) has its nutritional merits.
But if you have time, nothing beats a homemade loaf. It only takes four ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt – to produce wholesome bread. And vigorous kneading will give your bat wings a workout at the same time.
Try the recipe below by Tom, the taller half of The Fabulous Baker Brothers. It’s made with spelt flour, an ancient wheat that some people find easier to digest. Tom claims his wife, a former bread phobic herself, is a convert.
Makes 1 LARGE LOAF
Tom: ‘Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat. It makes a loaf of substance, with a beautiful, nutty flavour, and it’s become popular over the past 15 years or so because it seems to be easier to digest for a lot of people – or so my customers say. It’s a bestseller in Hobbs House.’
For the spelt loaf
5g dried yeast (or 10g fresh)
300ml tepid water
250g wholemeal spelt flour
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
10g fine-grain sea salt
1 Mix the yeast and tepid water until the yeast has dissolved. Combine the flours in a bowl, add the dissolved yeast and the salt, and bring together into a raggedy dough. Tip it out on to
the work surface and knead vigorously for 15 minutes to make a soft, stretchy dough. Your dough will now be elastic, but not so elastic as regular wheat dough. Transfer to a bowl and cover it.
Allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (no more than 1hr).
2 Grease a large (2lb) loaf tin. Once the dough is proved, shape it into a firm ball between cupped hands, then place it on the work surface and gently roll with the flat of your hands until it is the length of the tin. Put it in the tin, cover and leave to prove for a further hour or until doubled in size.
3 Heat the oven to 230°C/210°C/gas 8. If you have one, put a baking stone into the oven to heat up at the same time.
4 Sprinkle the loaf with spelt flour and sea salt and transfer to the hot
oven (to the stone, if using). Spray the oven with water spray and close the door to create a crust. Bake for 30min. Remove the loaf from the oven, take out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
Spelt loaf photograph by Chris Terry photography. This recipe is from The Fabulous Baker Brothers Glorious British Grub (Headline, £20)