Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bread for Life

Bread making seems to have become an unintentionally fulfilled new years resolution. I have made a variety at least once a week since 2011 began.

It's one of those things I always promise to make more but never seem to commit to properly. We eat so much bread, probably too much, but having it by the side of your plate at most meals to mop up sauces or salad dressings seems to be an integral part of the Italian side of the family.

Lately, we have had pizza (or course), three seed and oat soda bread, basic loafs and rolls. I ran out of yeast and flour within a few weeks and so enjoyed a little trip to the wholefoods shop to restock the cupboard with umpteen different varieties of flour and have my eye on a few more.
I am particularly itching to try Kamut flour, a wholegrain bread flour grown by the pharoahs of ancient Egypt, that is also great for making your own pasta. Being a bit of an ancient Egypt fanatic, to me there's something very magical in indulging in the same basic grain the great Kings once wore their teeth down on. I'd love to hear if anyone has used it before.
Kamut is a little pricey, so it will have to wait for another time. Wholegrain spelt flour however, seems to be very in vogue at the moment and is quite a bit cheaper too. I've used it with great success in sweet and savoury crumbles, pastry and cakes. For me though, bread is where it really seems to shine. It adds a nutty taste, even when, as below, a recipe doesn't use it as the main ingredient.

While I try to wean Leo on to brown bread, I use a 1:1 ratio of white bread flour to wholegrain spelt flour. He can tell by the doughs colour that I've been messing around with a recipe again (somehow a stray fennel, parsnip, jerusalem artichoke or swede often ends up in his meal, much to his disgust but he eats it anyway to set a good example for M and to make me happy), but this is one variation he seems to enjoy - especially with a good lump of creamy salted butter to pour all over it.
We ate these with a hot batch of homemade lemony chickpea burgers and all the trimmings. Delish!

Seeded Wholegrain Spelt Bread Rolls (makes 8)

1 7g sachet dried active yeast
300ml lukewarm water
1tbsp olive oil
250g strong white bread flour
250g wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp salt
100g mixed seeds

Stir the packet of yeast into the warm water and leave for 10 minutes until the yeast is visibly foaming and creamy.
Measure out the flours and seeds and salt into a large mixing bowl and give it all a quick stir. 
When the yeast mixture is ready, pour it and the oil into the flours and stir to form a dough. 
When the dough has come together, gently knead by hand for 8 minutes, or for 4 minutes using the dough hook in a freestanding mixer. It is ready when it is silky smooth, elastic and bounces back when you push a finger into the dough.
Place in a large bowl, loosely cover with a teatowel and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
When risen, knock the air out of the dough and place on a well floured surface. Knead for another 2 minutes before dividing into 8 equal pieces.
Shape into balls and place on an oiled baking tray, closely together and leave for another half an hour to rise by the oven which you should at this point preheat to gas mark 5.
Place the slightly risen rolls in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until they are browned, crispy and sound hollow when you tap the bottom of them.
As with all homemade bread, this is best served warm.


  1. Hi Alice, so nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by my blog. So you are a chef?? Oh, we love watching Top Chef on T.V.! Do you live in England? And work in a restaraunt? Your food almost looks too pretty to eat! I love the smell of bread baking, the first I ever learned to make 40 years ago were whole wheat rolls.

  2. Alice, this is a lovely loaf. This is my first visit to your blog and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did. I really love the food and recipes you feature here. I definitely will be back for second helpings. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Perfectly baked and the pics are very beautiful alice...thanks for visiting my blog and giving your valuable keep in touch,take care

  4. It was my pleasure to feature you! All your photos and things look wonderful. These rolls sound great :) I just made some homemade bread this morning.

  5. These look beautiful, your photos are stunning :)