Thursday, 9 January 2014

Bread



As a follow on from the last bread post I wanted to share more recipes with you. I absolutely love making my weekly batch of bread on my day off. It's relaxing and therapeutic to make and at the end of the effort you get to reward yourself with a wedge of warm bread and salty butter.

With a handful of exceptions bread is simply made by mixing flour, yeast and water with a sprinkling of salt. To this base dough mix you can experiment by adding pretty much anything you want. Here are a few of my favourites. Use a bowl mixer, use your hands or use a bread maker. It doesn't matter. Bread making is a very simple pleasure, just have fun. I get all my seeds and nuts from the local health food shop but supermarkets have a fantastic range as well so feel free to experiment.

Basic white bread dough




  • 12g fresh yeast
  • 500g strong flour
  • hefty pinch salt
  • 340ml water 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl mixer and knead for 5 mins. Alternatively use finger tips to rub yeast into flour in a large bowl. The same method as making crumble. then add the salt and mix evenly before adding the water and mixing in the bowl with your hand. Once dough has come together transfer to the work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes.
  3. Then leave the dough to rest for prove for 30 minutes, it should double in size as the yeast activates.
  4. Take the rested dough out of bowl and place on work surface.  Gently flatten it and fold the edges of the dough back into the centre.  Turn and repeat the process a few times to knock it back, then shape it into a loaf or rolls and rest for 30 minutes on a lined tray before baking in your hot oven until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it (approximately 25 minutes).

Light Wholemeal Loaf

The mix of wholemeal and white flour here gives a lighter dough. I find this loaf especially delicious with soup.



  • 300g strong wholemeal flour
  • 200g strong white flour
  • 12g yeast
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 400ml water
  • hefty pinch of salt
  • 50g of mixed seeds and nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and follow the method above.

Spelt Loaf

This is similar to the loaf on the previous blog but uses 100% spelt flour, with a mix of half wholegrain and half white. This gives a slightly lighter, spongier bread than the previous one and to add texture I use whole spelt seeds.





  • 300g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 200g white spelt flour
  • 10g yeast
  • 400ml warm water
  • 1tpsp ground nut oil
  • 1tbsp honey
  • hefty pinch of salt
  • 50g spelt seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C and follow the method above.



Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Blueberry, apricot, peanut and chocolate energy bar



Do you buy energy bars? Aren't they expensive? If you read the ingredients on the back there is literally nothing in there that you can't buy from either the supermarket or your local health food store. This is one of the first ones I made, but it's quickly become a favourite with me.

Please note I make no claims to it being the healthiest bar in the world. But it is packed to the gills with high energy, wholegrain ingredients. I use small bites in the middle of long runs and it's a firm favourite on the days when I have a very long kitchen shift with no time for a proper meal. These little babies keep me going on the days when life won't let me stop and have become invaluable on my Surrey Half Marathon training. Every single thing can be found in the supermarket and of course you'd easily find it in a health food shop as well. I buy the gluten free puffed rice from Sainsburys and the dried fruit straight off the baking shelves. For the chocolate I just smash up a bar or dark chocolate and the peanut butter is a jar of natural stuff with no added salt or oil.

Think of it as a healthy flap jack. These are delicious.



ENERGY BAR 
  1. Combine every single ingredient in a large bowl.
  2. Turn into a lined baking tray (at least 1 inch thick) and press into the corners. I like to flatten the mix by placing a similar sized dish on top and pressing down, but this isn't necessary.
  3. Bake on 180C for 30 minutes, remove from oven and cool on a rack (in the dish)
  4. Once cooled place in fridge to harden for at least 5 hours. Once hard and cold, you can turn the bar onto a chopping board and cut into the the required sized bars. I wrap each one in individually in cling film then store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.