Saturday, 14 March 2015

Doris Grant Loaf

I know so many people who would like to make their own bread, but are put off by the whole kneading, proving, shaping and rising prior to baking. They think it's long, complicated and something resembling the "dark arts".

Of course there are many breads that can be made quickly and easily, think soda bread or flatbreads to go with a curry. There's also cornbread but that is more of a cake than bread in my opinion. But what would you recommend to someone who wants to dip their toe in the breadmaking water, that promises fairly fast results and is foolproof.

Everyone who knows me also knows that I make all my own bread, whether that be a simple pain de mie for sandwiches, bagels for a weekend breakfast or speciality breads such as brioche or using spelt or rye. There is always a loaf (or two or three) in the freezer ready to be eaten. However in the last couple of weeks I've been fighting off the tail end of a nasty infection as well as a very busy work schedule. So my breadmaking has played second fiddle. I realised yesterday that I was all out of bread and needed something fast to tide me over until I could make a batch to see us through for the coming week. Enter the Doris Grant loaf.

Before I give you the recipe I used, I thought that it would be useful to explain the history behind the loaf and Doris herself.

The bread itself was an accidental creation by Doris Grant (1905 - 2003)
who was a baker and nutritionist.  She was concerned about the wellbeing of the workers in the munitions factories during the second world war and encouraged healthy eating following the principles of Dr William Hay whose diet she used in her youth to relieve the symptoms of crippling arthritis. Whilst teaching herself to bake, she realised that she had not been following the traditional way of breadmaking. However it seemed to make no difference to the overall quality of the bread, and  proved easier and quicker than the traditional methods, so she included her ‘mistake’ in her 1944 book Your Daily Bread.

The recipe I use is a variation of both the original and Lorraine Pascal's version. Due to a digestive condition I have to be careful in the amounts of fibre I can have in my diet, so the 50/50 mix of white and wholemeal flours are ideal for me. The first time I made it, I realised that I did not have any dried yeast, so used the fresh yeast I had instead. And I sometimes swap all water for 50/50 milk and water. A word of warning however, this is a heavy loaf, but toasts beautifully.If you like the taste and texture of pure wholemeal loaves, use all wholemeal flour instead.

225g white bread flour
225g wholemeal bread flour
1teaspoon of salt
7 grams of dried yeast, or 4grams of fresh
1 tablespoon of clear honey
300ml of warm water, or 150ml water and 150ml whole mlik
vegetable oil
milk for brushing the loaf
small bowl of chilled water

To make the loaf, sift the flours and salt into a bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the wheatgerm left behind after sifting (to use as a topping later). Add the yeast followed by the honey and either mix by hand or in a food processor with the dough hook attached. The dough will feel quite stiff, this is completely normal.

Flour a baking sheet. Form the dough into a round and place on the sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Slash the loaf with a sharp knife and brush with the milk. Sprinkle over the reserved wheatgerm. Place the bowl of chilled water in the base of the oven and put the loaf in to bake. Bake for 30-40 minutes (check after 30 minutes) until the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Allow to cool on a rack and enjoy!

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