Is there anything more invitingly homely than than the aroma of freshly baked bread? There is a type of magic at work in the way something so simple can set our mouths watering and trigger so many memories and emotions. The trouble is that many of us have lost our way with bread.
Not only is it easy and convenient to grab a loaf of pre-sliced bread from the supermarket with the weekly shop, loads of people think that baking with yeast will be difficult and the kneading of the dough will be hard work. I am here to tell you that baking bread is much, much easier than you think.
First of all, even the most cursory glance at the ingredient list on a packet of supermarket bread should be enough to send you running. Stabilisers, emulsifiers, fungicides and additives galore. Home made bread on the other hand contains flour, water, salt and yeast, with some simple flavourings of your choice. Better yet, with this recipe you don’t even have to knead the dough – just stir it all together, let it rise then roll it up and quickly bake.
It is honestly easy enough to throw together in the evening before you go to bed, or on a Saturday morning to have ready in time for a late breakfast. The only special ingredient you need is yeast, which is readily available in any decent supermarket and keeps for a long time.
This bread uses a technique known as high-hydration to allow us to skip the kneading of the dough. Without delivering a science lesson, that simply means that the amount of water in the dough allows the gluten to develop in much the same way that traditional kneading does – except with much less effort.
In this particular recipe I am using sesame and chia seeds as I love the gorgeously nutty taste of the sesame, and chia seeds are great for your insides, however you can either leave them out altogether or replace them with seeds of your choice. Flaxseed, sunflower seeds or poppy seeds would work perfectly, but I encourage you to try it with sesame as it has such a delicious flavour.
Most important, have fun! People have been making bread for thousands of years without huge factories or bread machines. Enjoy working with the dough and give yourself a massive pat on the back for getting back to basics.
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 7 g / 2 tsp dried yeast
- or: 21g fresh yeast
- 400 ml warm water
- 1-2 tsp honey or sugar, to taste
- 500 g plain flour
- 20 g / 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 25 g / 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil
- extra flour to roll out the dough
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in 50ml of the warmed water. Stir in the honey or sugar and 1 teaspoon of flour, then set aside for 10 minutes, after which it will have a foamy, spongy appearance and texture.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the rest of the flour, the seeds and the salt.
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour along with the rest of the warm water, and using a knife (just the ordinary eating kind) mix the liquid and flour together until you have a loose, shaggy dough. (See picture for more detail). The dough should be rough and quite sticky, but not runny. If it is too runny, add a little flour, and if it is too dry add a little water. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the dough is well risen.
- When the dough has risen, use the neutral oil to grease an approximately 25cm x 12cm loaf tin (and I mean really well greased, you don’t want the bread to stick, use plenty of oil and don't worry if it pools a little in the corners.) Scrape the risen dough out onto a well floured surface, sprinkling more flour over so it doesn’t stick to your hands, then pat the dough out into a large rectangle. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly up to form the loaf, tucking in the ends if it gets too long. Place the dough, seam side down in the prepared loaf tin.
- Brush, or spray the loaf with water then sprinkle over the sesame seeds, pressing down gently so they stick. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and leave to rise while you heat the oven to 250°C /480°F / Gas 9.
- When the oven is properly hot, uncover the bread and bake for 10 minutes. If you would like a really lovely crunchy crust, you can use a small spray bottle to give the inside of the oven a good misting with water when you put the bread in. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 220°C / 430°F / Gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes until well browned.
- Carefully turn the loaf out onto a rack - you may need to gently loosen the sides with a metal spatula, but it should slide out easily - and tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow, like a drum. If not, return to the oven (without the tin) for a further 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely on the rack, before slicing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
TIPS & TRICKS:
Important Note: Flour in every country is different and will absorb different amounts of water. Start this recipe with the water as written, but look carefully at the picture of the mixed dough. Once you see the texture that you need, you can add a little more flour or water to achieve consistent results.
If you don’t have a loaf tin, don’t worry! You can bake this on a well oiled baking tray – you will have to make the dough a little less wet (more flour) and roll it up extra tight – it still works perfectly!
I cannot recommend enough buying a small, inexpensive, plastic bench scraper to help you handle the dough, and to clean up afterwards. In Germany I buy mine from Kik or the Euro shop, and I have seen them in Australia at both Woolworths and Coles along with the other kitchen tools.
As written in the recipe, creating a nice steamy space in the oven by misting well with water from a spray bottle will help the bread to rise well and have a wonderfully crunchy crust. This is absolutely optional however.
Keeps well for 3-4 days at room temperature, can be frozen (slice it first) and makes great toast. If you don’t get through the whole loaf, don’t throw it away! Chop it up into small cubes and whizz in the food processor for absolutely wonderful breadcrumbs, or fry the cubes in a little oil to make delicious croutons for soup or salad.
To sprinkle on my bread I use a bought mixture of sesame, linseed, black sesame and poppy seeds that I pick up at my local Turkish shop – it’s called Cörek Mix – you can use any combination of the above seeds for your bread.