Yes it’s true, everything that celebrity chefs say on TV, and all the superlatives penned in cookbooks on the satisfaction of baking the perfect loaf of bread. After suffering many failed attempts at making bread, and ending up with stodgy blocks that could only be used in the construction of a building, I need a new dictionary of words to describe the warm glow of achievement that spread through my pores when my bread came out right. I wanted to do cartwheels, light a lamp for Ganesha, hijack the airwaves with breaking news,do my version of a celebratory samba, sign autographs for random people…. all at once. But I contented myself with a fist pump and
couldn’t stop smiling (I’m guessing even in my asleep) through the next few days feeling unbreakable and unshakeable, afloat on my own little cloud. I’ve tried reams of bread recipes and for some reason they didn’t always turn out this good. To be honest, however simple the recipe, there are a million things that can go wrong – using yeast takes a little practice, finding the right kind of flour can be a challenge (t’was the case with me in India since bread flour is not retailed), techniques and temperatures need adjustment and if nothing else, the weather can turn cold turkey. In short, baking perfect, edible bread can and does take a little practice. But don’t let that intimidate you because with every flop, you get closer to a hit and you learn a bunch of little tips and tricks on your own.
This recipe is for whole wheat flaxseed bread and is a fairly fool-proof one. I made beautifully spongy French toast with this bread and served it with caramelised apples for breakfast.
So put your nerves aside and give it a go. It doesn’t take hours of kneading; in fact you can mix the dough early, leave it to rise for 10-12 hours, go shopping, come back and finish it. It’s important to buy good quality dry yeast and unbleached wholewheat flour. Make sure they’re at room temperature and that you stick to the measurements in the recipe, but you can substitute the flax for sunflower or melon seeds…be creative. Bread making is de-stressing…just watching the yeast work its magic and sight of the balloon-light orb of dough is enough to lift your spirits. So give it some love and enjoy your baking!
- 21/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
- 11/4 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1/2 cup flax seeds
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and lightly spray a medium-sized loaf pan.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk, and then add water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 10 hours in a warm place to rise.
- Gently put the risen dough on a floured surface and pull and fold and flip it so the smooth side forms the top of the loaf. Take care not to flatten or press the dough hard since the air bubbles must be retained in the dough.
- Preheat a baking sheet in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Put the dough in the prepared loaf pan. Place the pan on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then spray a little water into the oven and continue to bake for 20 more minutes to help the bread form a crust. Cool the bread, slice and serve.
- Total time does not include 10 hours resting time.