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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Virgin Quick Brown Bread

Goodness! Doesn't that sound suggestive? But it adequately explains how I've have lost my bread-making virginity. Those who know me know that I have serious "yeast issues". No - not down there! This is not some personal lifestyle statement...or perhaps it is, because I am now a successful bread baker. I've never had anything I've made with yeast work properly before, other than danish pastry dough which doesn't count bc it hardly needs to rise and look like bread. My hot cross buns, which took me all afternoon and left me hot and cross, turned out like rock bun pellets. Tasted a bit like rock bun pellets too.

But, a few weeks ago at the pseudo-hippie market at uni I was browsing the second-hand books and found a fairly attractive looking British baking book. 'Cos I really need another cookbook, don't I?! But this one had such pretty pictures....
Anyway, as usual I flicked right past all the bread and yeasted pastry recipes to look at the cakes and biscuits. However, I've long had a nagging feeling that somehow I could never be a "real" home baker unless I made bread. And I don't consider making bread in an electric bread-making machine to be the same thing. I mean real, salt-of-the-earth bashing flour around stuff. Sure, any schmo can make a cake, but bread is where it's at, and I was a failure at it. So, out of a purely academic research interest (the university employee speaks here) I went back and had a look - and one recipe jumped out at me. Called "Quick Brown Bread" it already had two elements which appealed. (that would be "quick" and "brown" in case you....never mind) and had this written in the side column:

"For most breads the dough is kneaded, left to rise, kneaded, shaped and then left to rise again. This bread does not need the first rising - simply knead, shape, rise and bake"

Well, that not only grabbed my attention, it completely sold me. Plus it was wholemeal bread! One of the other reasons I've kept away from bread making is that I'm not eating any white bread at the moment (unless the need becomes too great and I go crazy. It happens..) and I don't want yummy white bread hanging around the house, but the recipes for wholemeal bread I've seen look so very virtuous and rock-bun like. The picture of this bread looked quite light. It was worth giving it a go anyway.

It was easier than I thought to make up the dough, and I even kneaded it all myself for a full ten minutes. Geez, that hurts. Unfortunately, my grandmother threw away the dough hook for her Kenwood Chef stand mixer, about 30 years ago (bc she didn't know what it was!), so it was hand kneading all the way. I don't think that's such a bad thing for a novice bc you get a feel of the dough coming together and how it feels. But I really must source a dough hook for the Kenwood if I plan much more yeast cookery.
I had read a tip somewhere - possibly on another blog - to guarantee good rising of the dough, which has been my major problem. My dough never rises, even if I stick it next to a sunny window for hours. This tip suggested putting your dough in the dishwasher just after it's finished a cycle. It's warm and humid in there, and apparently creates a perfect environment to get the yeast working. And whaddya know - it worked like a charm. Ten minutes after putting it in there, it had already started puffing up. I was ecstatic!

It baked up perfectly and even though I'd been warned about tearing bits off straight out of the oven ("hot bread is indigestible, and it compresses the crumb!" admonishes Stephanie Alexander) I couldn't help myself and was already armed with the block of butter. It was fabulous. The taste is quite wheaty, but in a pleasant way. It is dense but also quite a light-textured bread. It reminded A. of breads you buy in central Europe. I think it could have possibly done with another teaspoon or so of salt, but interestingly, when it's toasted I don't have the same feeling. Incidentally, the toast this easy bread makes is superb.
So, any of you out there still reticent about making your first bread, I'd suggest you give this a go. And afterwards you'll be so full of inspiration you'll pull down all your baking books and start making a list of all the breads and doughs and pastries and kuchens you'll make next!
Read on for the recipe: Tagged with

Quick Brown Bread

Makes 2x450g/1lb loaves.

700g / 1.5lb strong wholemeal flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp caster sugar
7g / 1/4oz sachet dried yeast
450ml / 3/4 pint warm water
2 tsp plain white flour, to dust (or beaten egg to glaze)

1: Preaheat the oven to 200C/400F 15 minutes before baking. Oil 2 x 450g loaf tins. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl, adding the remaining bran in the sieve. Stir in the yeast, then makes a well in the centre.
2: Pour the warm water into the dry ingredients and mix to form a soft dough, adding a little more water if needed.
3: Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
4: Divide in half, shape into 2 oblongs and place in the tins. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until risen to the top of the tins.
5: Dust generously with the plain flour (or glaze with the beaten egg).
6: Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until well risen and lightly browned. Turn out of the tins and return to the oven for 5 minutes to crisp the sides. Cool on a wire rack.


  • Hi Niki - congratulations - it looks lovely! I'll bet it was delicious too. I love making bread when it turns out right!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 10/30/2005 02:28:00 pm  

  • Look great Niki. I've never heard of the dishwashing trick before. I'll have to time my next bread making effort to follow the dishwasher cycle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/30/2005 03:37:00 pm  

  • That must be so satisfying Niki! My breadmaking skills are nothing to write about and I've dithered about taking the plunge again. And the Dishwasher??? I've never heard of that - but it would also be a good place that was free of draughts.

    And what was the book called?

    By Blogger plum, at 10/30/2005 04:36:00 pm  

  • YAY! Congratulations Niki! Good for you! And how wonderful it looks! I need to get back to doing real breads again - I miss it, and there are only a few feelings that can compare to the pride of pulling out that lovely, risen and golden bread from the oven!

    By Blogger Cerebrum, at 10/31/2005 01:06:00 am  

  • Looks great Niki. Congrats on a beautiful-looking loaf. I've yet to bake bread too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/31/2005 10:12:00 am  

  • Hmm, sounds too easy and good to be true. My whole wheat loaves always come out super dense. How long does the loaf last? I like to use the loaf the whole week for sandwiches. I've tried to preserve homemade bread in the freezer, but I get freezer burn, even though I double-wrap it.

    By Blogger Jessica "Su Good Sweets", at 10/31/2005 10:50:00 am  

  • How funny - I read that same bit of Stephanie with the same dismay. Hot bread straight out of the oven with butter rules!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/31/2005 07:16:00 pm  

  • looks great niki. nothing like baking your bread. and i agree a bread baker to me is like pre made packet mix for cakes

    By Blogger deborah, at 11/01/2005 06:36:00 am  

  • Aright! Congrats, Niki. The bread looks lovely.

    By Blogger Nic, at 11/01/2005 11:21:00 am  

  • Thank you Niki for a very inspiring post - I've just tried your recipe and it is indeed fabulous. Yes it's a bit crazy baking when it's so hot in Melbourne today - but it being a public holiday means I've no fresh Irrewarra wholemeal from Victoria Market (currently my and the toddler's favourite bread) and I'm desparate for some good yummy bread.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/01/2005 09:15:00 pm  

  • Cathy - It's even better when it turns out right!

    Barbara - The dishwashing trick is great. Although I did do a cycle just to have it warm and ready!

    Plum - The book looks like a British version of a Women's Weekly type book. It was from the "Practical Cooking" series, and had full page photos of each recipe that were nice. Not like Donna Hay more like...well...Women's Weekly!

    Zarah Maria - Yep, it was a very satisfying feeling and I'm hoping to do it again soon.

    Moira - heh heh! I guess my imagery was calling for that!! :-)

    AG - Well, this is a great one to start with!

    Jessica - This lasts for AAAGES! A week later it was still fine, which was very surprising. Not dry at all. Now, over a week later there's some left and although it would still be good, I think I'd prefer to toast it. I haven't tried freezing it though.

    Cat - It's the best thing!! But I felt like a naughty schoolkid doing it with Auntie Stephanie telling me off...

    Cin - Yeah, I've thought about the oven on low too....but you suggest it doesn't work? Bugger! I guess using the dishwasher trick again.

    Saffron - Bread in a breadmaker tastes ok, but doesn't feel like you've really made it. It also seems to steam itself a bit too much and not taste really home-baked. Hard to slice too!

    Nic - Thanks so much! It felt a little like one of your cooking school posts!

    Din - Well, guess what?? I didn't get a day off yesterday! Working at a uni means we don't get Cup Day or Labour Day; it's just another working day for us. I was very disgruntled about this and would have much preferred to be out at my brother's birthday BBQ. Grrr.
    But yes, it was pretty damn hot yesterday;it would have taken real dedication to bake bread!

    By Blogger Niki, at 11/02/2005 01:05:00 pm  

  • Beautiful bread Niki. I printed the recipe and will try it soon. Bread which needs only one rise is a goodsend.

    By Blogger Ana, at 11/04/2005 04:15:00 am  

  • *snicker* I'm guessing your bread wasn't 'a leetle salty?'

    It looks fabulous. Any leftover? I'm coming over for a bite ;)

    - Hayley.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/06/2005 04:26:00 pm  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/09/2008 12:58:00 am  

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