Whilst flicking through one of my Scandinavian baking books, I noticed that a few of the recipes call for oat bran or wheatgerm and this intrigued me. I’m all for healthy baking and, as I’ve said in previous posts, I am a lover of baking with a variety of different flours. So this bread incorporates a number of them, with a dash of oat bran for extra fibre-y goodness! The recipe that inspired this loaf was that of Norwegian ‘grovbrød’; a rustic brown loaf, great with thin slices of smoked fish and a squeeze of lemon. I chose to use rapeseed oil rather than olive oil as it has a more neutral flavour and I wanted to let the flours and grains do the talking. You needn’t add the honey, but I always think it adds to the flavour of wholemeal loaves.
100g Strong White Bread Flour
300g Strong Wholemeal Flour
50g Rye Flour
40g Oat bran
15g Rye Flakes
350-390 ml Tepid Water
10g Fast Action Dried Yeast
Tbsn Rapeseed Oil and extra for kneading.
To make the bread:
Measure out the flours, oat bran and rye flakes into a large bowl.
Add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other, avoid mixing the two as direct contact can retard the yeast.
Add the honey and rapeseed oil to the bowl.
Add roughly 350 ml of the water and begin to mix with one hand. Continue adding water until the flour is lifted from the sides of the bowl and the dough begins to come together.
Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface.
Knead until the dough is no longer sticky and has a silky, elastic texture. This may take substantially longer than a white dough to achieve this texture, so don’t give up! Also, this dough will seem tighter than other wholemeal doughs, I think this is on account of the oat bran, which soaks up a lot of water and makes the texture more dense. However, with some working it will become smoother and more like conventional wholemeal dough. I used a slightly different kneading technique, rather than holding with one hand and stretching with the other, I used both hands to roll and then fold the dough. As I say, this will take longer, but will achieve the right result in the end.
Leave the dough to rise in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a tea towel. Find a warm place for this one – rye flour doughs take marginally longer to rise, and I find that a warmer place than usual helps this process along.
Once the dough has doubled in size (after 2-4 hours), tip onto a lightly floured surface and pressed firmly into an oblong. Fold in the edges and press again to form an oblong the length of your 2 lb loaf tin. Roll the oblong and place into the tin, with the seem facing downwards.
Leave to prove until doubled in size (around an hour and a half). Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place a baking tray in the bottom to heat up.
When your loaf has doubled in size, dust with wholemeal flour and cut a slash lengthways across the top with a sharp knife.
Boil a kettle full of water and pour into the heated tray, leaving it in the bottom of the oven.
Bake your loaf on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. When the loaf is done it will sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
This bread is delicious eaten, as the Scandinavians would, for breakfast or lunch with slices of mild cheese (I like Emmental), some ham and maybe a pickle or two. It is equally as delicious with smoked salmon or Gravad Lax and a squeeze of lemon. I even love it toasted and slathered in butter with some sharp and sweet marmalade and a cup of tea – delish!
Enjoy Budding Bakers! Don’t forget to let me know how you get on 🙂
As well as being a cookbook fanatic, I have a fetish for flours. Find me a new variety and I’ll have a bag in my basket before you can say ‘Paul Hollywood’! I love finding recipes that contain lesser used flours like spelt, buckwheat and Khorasan. Even the thought of a new rye recipe gets my creative juices flowing better than your average strong white ever could.
This loaf evolved from a pure spelt loaf, made with only wholegrain spelt flour into this recipe, which contains strong white flour (and if you like, wholemeal too) as well as wholegrain spelt. Using spelt flour alone produces a loaf which has an interesting flavour and texture – lighter in colour and crumb than a wholemeal loaf, with a greater depth of flavour than a plain white one. All things considered, it was its distinct flavour that caused me to want to use a mix of flours for this loaf. Pure spelt bread is lovely eaten with a meal, to mop up delicious casserole juices or such like; but for me, its characteristic flavour needs dumbing down for use as toast or sandwich bread – which my ‘daily loaf’ frequently is!
This is not to say that this loaf isn’t deliciously flavoursome. It just has a more neutral (for want of a better word!) taste, which provides a delicious base for other ingredients.
Note: You needn’t add the Greek honey if you’re a purist and prefer to stick to the core ingredients. However, I think it adds something special to this everyday loaf and complements the nutty notes in this loaf.
205g Wholegrain Spelt Flour
300g Strong White Bread Flour (for a wholegrain loaf, reduce the quantity of white flour to 200g and add 100g of Strong Wholemeal Flour)
1 tsp Salt (I add a generous teaspoon)
1 tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
1 tbsp Greek Honey
1 tbsp Olive Oil
400 ml warm water
To make the bread
Mix the flours together in a large bowl, I do this roughly and by hand.
Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Then drizzle over the honey.
Pour over the warm water (the temperature of which needn’t be measured, it should feel slightly warm to the touch) and begin to mix using one hand.
Add the olive oil and continue to bring the mixture together until you have a ‘shaggy’ (to quote HFW – but this is the most useful, if not very technical, term I have come across to describe the dough at this stage!) dough.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface (you can use flour, but be careful not to add much more at this stage as your bread could become dense and mealy).
Knead for 10-20 minutes (I always knead by hand, but feel free to use a mixer if you have one) until the dough is elastic and appears to have a sheen to it. If your dough feels wet and sticky, you could add a touch more flour, but try to knead through this stage as a wetter dough produces a more open crumb with a lighter texture.
Leave to rise in a lightly oiled bowl until roughly doubled in size (approx 1hr). I place the bowl in a large plastic bag, inflate it slightly and then use an Ikea plastic clip to seal it, stopping any draft from halting the proving process.
Since I use this loaf daily, mainly for sandwiches and toast, I like to bake it in a 2lb tin, but you go ahead and get creative with your shaping if the feeling takes you! (See future post on shaping bread). I lightly oil the tin and my bread hasn’t gotten stuck yet!
To shape, tip the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press all over with the palms of your hands to knock out any air bubbles. Shape into a rough rectangle. With one of the long edges closest to you, fold in at either side so that the left and right-hand edges overlap slightly. Now flatten slightly so it matches the length of your tin.
Taking the long edge closest to you, roll up like a Swiss roll so you have one long seam along the dough.
With the seam facing downwards, place the dough into the tin. (This method is very similar to Paul Hollywood’s in ‘How to Bake’, which also has great pictures that may help if you’ve had problems shaping in the past.)
Place the tin in a large plastic bag and leave to prove for 1/2 an hour to an hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place a baking tray in the bottom of the oven.
When your dough has doubled in size, place a kettle on to boil and pour the boiling water into the baking tray – this will create a steamy atmosphere, which will produce a loaf with a thin but crunchy crust with a nice shine to it.
Dust your loaf with flour and make several diagonal slashes across the top (I use a sharp serrated bread knife to do this).
Place your tin in the middle of the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes. To check if your loaf is baked, turn out of the tin and tap – if you hear a hollow sound your loaf is ready, if you hear a dull thud it needs longer in the oven!
I really hope you enjoy this loaf as much as my family and I do! I would love to see pictures of your loaves and, of course, hear how you got on using this recipe!
Happy baking, but more importantly – happy eating! 🙂