Dancer and Food Blogger Lauren O’Sullivan
It’s happening. I am once again obsessed by The Great British Bake Off (#gbbo). As an aspiring amateur baker myself, I can’t help but watch eagerly every week and comment on the bakes, the bakers, the creativity, Paul and Mary, the general hilarity and just want to eat cake the WHOLE time.
Well apart from some muffins I made recently, I am removing the temptation of cake and taking inspiration from next week’s theme: Bread week. I will bake bread instead. Which is still not considered a ‘health food’ so I guess it’s not really a good excuse, but I don’t care because bread is awesome.
Especially when it is rustic and homemade and warm and fresh out of the oven and YUM. I am a strong advocator of bread. It is so versatile and can be transported so easily. If you’re ever in a rush at lunch time or have to eat on the go then bread is the way to go! Have you ever tried eating a salad whilst walking? Absolute nightmare. Especially if it contains leafy bits and little bits and a dressing which ends up all over your face by the time you’ve finished. Bread is best. You can just hold a slice(or a sandwich) and chomp away at leisure not having to worry about a container or a fork, your hands and your mouth are the only things required! And if you’re making it yourself then it can be as nutritious (or not) as you like.
Usually when you think of homemade bread, and especially when watching the crazy hard recipes they have to tackle on bake off, you think of hours of hard work and complicated proving and kneading that you just can’t be bothered with. Well despair no more! I’ve found a way to make bread that is as easy as making an all-in-one cake. You just bung it all in together, stir, and squish together with your hands. Voila: bread dough.
Ok, ok, it’s not going to look like the show-stopper creations they spend hours designing and making on Bake Off. I mean feel free to do that too if you so wish…we’ll see you in a week. But it’s going to taste amazing and smell oh so good.
So, we’re going yeast free. How, you might ask? The presence of yeast in a bread dough helps to create the air pockets you see in the structure of bread and makes it rise. However, you can just as easily make bread rise chemically using baking powder and baking soda. Because we are chemically making the bread rise it does this whilst baking and therefore does not need proving (time to rise before baking). So much easier!
Bread dough is essentially flour and water; at least that is the base of it. The recipe I present to you here uses milk because its acidic interaction with the baking soda makes the dough rise the best. But it doesn’t have to be milk, it will still work with water or even fruit juice if you wanted to make a sweet bread. I also add a bit of oil because it makes it taste better!
And I love my add-ins: this is where you can add nutritional value to your bread using oats, seeds and other grains like quinoa as I have done, or unflavoured protein powder, sundried tomatoes, chillies, peppers…the possibilities are endless. If you wanted to bake sweet bread using fruit juice as the liquid component then adding things like raisins or other dried fruit alongside spices would be great.
Makes 1 large loaf
- 360g strong bread flour (use wholemeal to pretend you’re being healthy)
- 60g oats
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 40g quinoa dry weight, cooked and cooled (better to cook the day before and put it in the fridge overnight)
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 330ml semi-skimmed milk
- 50ml vegetable oil
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Combine the flour, seeds, cooked quinoa, oats, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
3. Measure out the milk and oil carefully in a jug.
4. Pour about ¾ of the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and quickly stir. Add the remaining liquid a little at a time ONLY if the dough seems too dry and isn’t coming together yet. You most likely won’t need all of the liquid.
5. As the dough forms a ball start to gather it together with your hands and squish it about a bit in the bowl. It should be moist but not sticking to your hands too much. If it’s too wet add a touch more flour until it stops sticking so much or if it appears too dry and crumbly add a bit more milk a VERY small amount at a time.
6. Form the dough into a rough oval shape with oiled hands and place on a baking tray. Score the top as an X with a knife.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the bread has risen slightly and is golden brown.
This bread is fairly crumbly and very rustic but oh so moreish! It is a great accompaniment to soup or amazing as a base for poached eggs #yolkporn!
Or literally just enjoy it on its own with a slather of butter (or cottage cheese if you still insist on the whole healthy thing).