Sanding down chairs last week, I discovered exquisitely-grained wood beneath layers of paint and decided to keep them unpainted. I also chose to retain weather-beaten wooden beams instead of plastic beams (masquerading as wood), that promised to give my garden benches a low-maintenance makeover. The contractor was disappointed with my choices but thinking about them later, it struck me that in both cases, I chose the wood for its honesty.
It’s the same, honest happiness from getting dirt under my nails trying to grow vegetables, walking barefeet in the rain with wildflowers peeking between my toes or eating street food from flimsy brown paper bags. It’s something about connecting with life and sustenance in the most basic way. Nebulous yet strong, it’s a feeling which reinforces that we are the salt of the earth, no matter how evolved our civilization or how advanced our technology.
Baking bread with just my hands and the oven, watching the yeast do its magic and producing a perfectly browned loaf is one such experience. This bread has the simplest of recipes. I saw it in my newspaper but decided that half the quantity was sufficient for an entire week. It doesn’t need bread-baking experience or babysitting and is healthy, which is why it can be your perfect daily bread.
- Makes 1 large loaf
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 gms instant dry yeast
- 450 ml warm water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 30 ml oil
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp flax seeds
- Mix both flours with salt, sugar and dry yeast in a large bowl.
- Combine the honey, warm water and oil in another bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture, pour in the liquid and combine using a wooden spoon.
- Toss together all the seeds in a bowl. Mix most of seeds into the dough, reserving some for the topping. The dough will be sticky. If your dough is dry, add a little extra warm water.
- Pour the dough into a greased and parchment-lined medium-sized loaf pan. Cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes till doubled.
- Brush the bread with milk using a pastry brush, sprinkle the remaining seeds over the bread and bake at 200 degrees C for an hour till the bread is golden and the bottom of the pan when tapped produces a hollow sound .