Delia

Quick and Easy Wholemeal Loaf

The poet Pam Ayres once said, when describing her home-made wholemeal bread, that it was like 'biting into a cornfield', and that's it – the very best description I've ever come across. A crisp, crunchy crust and then all the flavour of the wholewheat grain – take a bite, close your eyes and you'll know just what she meant. Then, when you've grasped how easy wholemeal bread is to make, you'll probably never stop making it. The recipe here is adapted from Doris Grant's famous loaf in her book Your Daily Bread,for which I continue to give thanks.


Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Mar 1996).

Quick and Easy Wholemeal Loaf
Ingredients
 1 lb 4 oz (570 g) 100 per cent organically produced wholewheat flour, plus a little extra for the top of the bread
 2 level teaspoons salt
 1 level teaspoon soft light brown sugar
 2 level teaspoons easy-blend dried yeast
 about 14 fl oz (400 ml) hand-hot water
 Pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting.
Equipment

You will also need either a 2 lb (900 g) loaf tin or two 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins, well buttered.

Method

Begin by warming the flour slightly in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven off for now. Next, tip the warm flour into a large mixing bowl and all you do is simply sprinkle on the salt, sugar and easy-blend yeast, mix these together thoroughly, make a well in the centre and pour in the hand-hot water. Then take a wooden spoon and begin to mix the warm liquid into the flour gradually to form a dough: the exact amount of water you'll need will depend on the flour. Finish off by mixing with your hands until you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl clean – there should be no bits of flour or dough remaining on the sides of the bowl and, unlike pastry, it is better to have too much water than too little.

Now transfer the dough to a flat surface and stretch it out into an oblong, then fold one edge into the centre and the other over that. Now fit the dough into the tin, pressing it firmly all round the edges so that the top will already be slightly rounded. Next, sprinkle the surface with a generous dusting of flour, then cover the tin with a damp, clean tea cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or at room temperature for about an hour. If you're making 2 loaves, divide the dough in half before following the steps above and folding it into the tins.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C). When the dough has risen to the top of the bread tin or tins, bake the bread for 40 minutes for the 2 lb (900 g) loaf tin or 30 minutes for the 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins. When the bread is cooked, turn it out on to a cloth to protect your hands – it will sound hollow when rapped underneath with your knuckles. Then return the bread, out of its tin, upside down to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes to crisp the base and sides. Cool the bread on a wire rack, and never put it away or freeze it until it is absolutely cold.

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