Thursday, 21 June 2012

Manda's kitchen experiments - bread

I've always loved to cook, and I don't like to let a little thing like not having, or not being allowed, all the ingredients get in my way :-)  As a result, I often experiment...

I've made my own bread (in a bread machine) since reading about the horrible things done to mass-produced bread in Felicity Lawrence's excellent book "Not on the label".  Over the years I've come up with a recipe I'm happy with for a wholewheat loaf but, like most bread, it does contain salt.  Babies shouldn't eat salt, so part of my prep for Bob's weaning was to modify my recipe to exclude it.  Salt does two things in bread, it adds some flavour, and it inhibits the fermentation of the yeast, so giving a good texture.  Just cutting it out without other alterations to the recipe results in a bland loaf with a sunken top and big air pockets.  Regarding flavour, I add spices to my bread anyway.  Ginger is my favourite, but I also like cinnamon, mixed spice, celery seeds and aniseed.  As for texture, most recipes include sugar to feed the yeast, so cutting down on that is an obvious way to counteract any loss of salt.  I also found the texture was improved by mixing some strong white bread flour into the mix, and by cutting down on the yeast.  I tried using the quick programme too, but this made bread that was a bit too dense, and made stodgy sandwiches.  So, here is my recipe for salt free bread.  I cook it as a standard large loaf (4 hours on my Panasonic) and pick a light crust. I hope it's of use to you!

My salt-free bread - not perfectly shaped, but very tasty 
  • 1 mean teaspoon quick yeast (I use Doves', as I find the tiny sachets don't rise as well)
  • 1 mean teaspoon unrefined sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon (or more) of dried ginger, aniseed, mixed spice, cinnamon, or your favourite herb/spice
  • 550g bread flour split roughly 50:50 between strong white bread flour and either stoneground wholewheat or strong multigrain bread flour
  • 380ml water
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil or rapeseed oil

I also like to throw in a handful of raisins sometimes, but don't do this if, like me, you let your doggy have the corner of your breakfast toast crust.  Raisins/grapes are surprisingly toxic to our canine chums.

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