I lost my bread making mojo recently. I think it was ordering the 25kg sack of spelt flour that jinxed it. But now I'm well and truly back on track.
Once I started again, I remembered not only how easy bread-making is but that you get so much more out of it than just a loaf. It's almost like a kind of therapy. You can't rush bread making. It's an organic process. You have to wait for the yeast to prove and the bread to rise. There are no short-cuts. With some grains you have to knock it back and start the process all over again, taking even longer. But I reasoned that all that kneading and knocking back must be good at reducing any built up tension, making you perfectly ready for the calm process of patiently waiting. I do recommend that if you are new to bread-making that you sling the hook, the dough hook that is, and make bread the old fashioned way. Get your hands sticky and get involved in the whole process.
Having said that, with this recipe made from spelt flour, very little kneading is necessary. So it's a great beginners bread to make.
I had fun this weekend teaching two of my sisters-in-law to make this bread. They are the most amazing cooks but don't bake. I wondered why when there are so many delicious breads and pastries in Persian cuisine and they are such talented cooks, that yet they don't bake. Or why they always seem overly impressed if I arrive with a home baked chocolate cake or truffle torte for them, finding it hard to believe that I've actually made it. Then I discovered why.
They described childhood memories back home in Iran of a young woman who came to their house early every morning. She would mix flour, and add yeast and water and roll out Persian Nan-e Barbari,Breakfast Bread; or add milk to make sweet soft Sheermal, Milk Bread, painted with a sticky, sugary glaze that children love. Can you imagine what it must have been like to wake up to that warm sweet aroma every morning. They had their own baker, so they didn't need to learn to bake...
So when I stayed over with them last weekend we had a mini bread making master class. And as they love English rustic seeded bread we made my favourite Three Seed Spelt Bread.
To make two small loaves of Three Seed Spelt Bread you will need.
- 500g/ 1lb 2oz spelt flour. I use Dove Farm Organic Spelt flour.
- 50g/ 2oz pumpkin seeds
- 50g/ 2oz linseeds
- 50g/ 2oz sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp fine sea salt. Some recipes call for less but I think these two loaves need a whole teaspoonful.
- 20g of fresh yeast or a tbs of dried
- 500ml/17fl oz warm water
- A spoonful of honey
- Olive oil
The first time that I made this I read the amount of seeds incorrectly and double the quantity. When I made it correctly the next time as I put the seeds into the bowl it didn't look enough, so I add a lot more because I love the flavour and crunch of lots of seeds.
- Place the yeast into a bowl or jug, add the honey and warm water. Leave for ten minutes or so until it begins to bubble and brew. If using dried yeast you can omit this stage and just add it to the dry ingredients then pour in the warm water.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Oil a baking tray.
- When the yeast is active, make a well in the centre of the flour, seed mixture and pour the oil and then the yeast and warm water.
- Mix the ingredients together well. You can use a table knife or your hands to combine them. Pull the dough together to form a ball then into two separate pieces. Form each one into a rough loaf shape and place on the baking tray. You can sprinkle with a few more seeds if you like. Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm to double in size. This should take about half an hour.
- Towards the end of this time, turn the oven on to pre-heat. 200c/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- Bake for about thirty minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
These loaves would never win the bread beauty pageant but they are full of flavour. Very more-ish especially when new. Delicious with butter and honey, or the way we ate them at the weekend for an English twist to a traditional Persian breakfast of salty sheep's Feta cheese with watermelon, fresh fruit and sweet cardamom tea, drunken from little glasses with golden brown sugar or honey...mmm...