If you regularly read this blog then you will know that it’s usually my husband Ben who bakes the bread.
We believe that division of labour in the kitchen is healthy for a relationship – well in any case it seems to work for us. Generally speaking I do cakes, biscuits, steak, pasta, pizza, most puddings and scrap cooking. Ben does bread, risotto, pies and fish.
But this is not set in stone and occasionally I like to muscle in on Ben’s area of expertise – just to keep him on his toes. Recently I’ve been experimenting with spelt bread because I like it but Ben doesn’t and so if I want it I have to make it myself.
I’ve made ‘Roman style’ spelt bread a few times using the recipe on the back of the Dove’s flour packet but it’s a bit heavy and always sticks to the tin. But watching Ben make other breads gave me the idea of making a ‘poolish’ with a bit of strong white flour to try and get a lighter texture. This worked an absolute treat and even Ben admitted it was nice.
Spelt bread is good to make if you’re a little bit lazy (like me) because it only involves a quick knead (more of a stir really) and one proofing session. The ‘poolish’ bit sounds posh and is a technique used by artisan bread makers but it is really very simple as you will see.
For the poolish
- 100g strong white bread flour
- 100ml water
- 6g quick yeast
- 300ml water
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 400g wholegrain spelt flour (I used Doves Farm)
- ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed
- ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds, crushed
Mix all the ingredients for the poolish together in a small bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 30 minutes for the mixture to bubble up.
In a large mixing bowl measure out the dry ingredients but only half of the fennel and caraway and add the poolish.
In a separate bowl measure out the wet ingredients and stir to dissolve the honey.
Add the wet and dry ingredients together and work for a few minutes until smooth. Use either your hands or a wooden spoon if you don’t like mess as the mix will be very sticky and wet.
Grease a small loaf tin with olive oil (mine is 11cm wide, 22cm long and 6cm high) and tip in the dough. Place the tin inside a sealed plastic bag with plenty of air trapped inside and room for the dough to expand without touching the plastic. Leave in a warm place until the dough has risen to about 1 and a half times the size (this should take between 1 ½ and 2 hours).
Heat the oven to 220oC.
Put a tin of boiling water in the oven to create steam. Sprinkle over the remaining fennel and caraway and bake the loaf for 20 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 200oC and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Finally, take the loaf out of the tin, put back in the oven and cook for a final 5 minutes.
This bread tastes great with a quick tomato soup (see below)
Quick and easy store cupboard tomato soup
This soup (inspired by a Mary Berry recipe) has the homely, comforting flavour of a tin of Heinz. It’s very easy to make – although the cynical among you may argue that it’s easier to open a tin. My 7 year old daughter enjoyed making it and really, really enjoyed eating it – declaring that it was the best soup she’d ever tasted – bless her.
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, plus 1 teaspoon of the oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 150ml vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 50ml milk
- 50ml double cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a saucepan over a medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds until it begins to colour.
Add the sun-dried and tinned tomatoes, stock and sugar and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
Stir in the milk and cream and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper before heating through on the hob.