I’m so happy to be able to say that I have finally got around to trying my hand at this very easy crusty bread recipe which I got the idea for from the lovely Mel over at Le Coin De Mel (who in turn found the recipe on another blog!). Mel’s version was a lovely round free form loaf and I loved the idea of that but I decided that it would be more practical for my family’s needs to bake it in a loaf tin (the boys are a sucker for baked beans on toast!).
I have to admit that I too was sceptical about the liklihood of anything edible, let alone delicious, coming from something with just three ingredients plus water, but it really works, is the perfect vehicle for other flavours, and is so quick and easy (which is ideal for me as I’m a bit lazy at the best of times!). My grandma always used to bake batches of bread on a regular basis and it seemed like a right old faff with a million ingredients (including black treacle!) and hours of rising and proving and bashing and folding and whacking! Admittedly it was very tasty bread (and my Dad took on the recipe and now bakes regularly as he became addicted to it and couldn’t bear the idea of living without it!) but in my opinion it was just too much hassle!
I have also knocked up one of my quick and delicious slow cook beef casseroles which I’m hoping we can dip and mop the bread in for our dinner!
For the casserole I tend to buy a Sainsburys stew pack of veg which includes about three carrots, a small swede, a parsnip and an onion all for just £1.20! Once you factor in the cost of the meat (and I’m very picky with my meat as I can’t stand gristle and find it can put me off an entire meal if my teeth unexpectedly bounce off a bit!) you’re looking at a meal which will stretch to four children’s portions and three adult portions all for about £8 (but if you were prepared to go for cheaper cuts of meat then obviously even cheaper!).
I soften the onion in some olive oil, then add the chopped steak pieces and toss everything in a little plain flour in the pan. Once the meat is browned I chuck in all the other veg, (plus today I’ve added some whole button mushrooms although I know I’ll be the only member of the family to eat them!) and pour in a good glug of red wine, a carton of tomato passata, some oregano and basil plus pepper and two Kallo beef stock cubes. Bring the liquid level up over the solid ingredients by topping with water, bring to the boil and then simmer away slowly on the lowest heat available for the following 4-5 hours. So simple.
For the bread you will need:
3oog plain flour
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp yeast (easy bake/fast action)
1 1/2 tsp salt
Just mix all the dry ingredients in a 2l bowl, then add the water and mix for a couple of minutes with a spoon or spatula. Cover your bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 12-24 hours. when ready to cook bread, preheat oven to gas 8 (230C/450F).
Using a spatula drop the sticky dough onto a floured surface, shape it into a ball and roll it in the flour so it gets covered all over.
Place your cooking dish (Mel suggested something like a Le Crueset dish with a lid) or loaf tin into the oven to warm for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, and making sure the dough is nicely covered in flour, transfer it to the cooking dish or tin (no grease needed but extra flour if worried about sticking).
Cook for 30 minutes with lid on or foil if in a loaf tin, and then a further 15 minutes uncovered, then transfer to a cooling rack.
It really couldn’t be easier than that and I absolutely love it when its possible to cook something which comes out quite impressive without ever really getting your hands dirty! (I know that’s not the attitude but we all lead busy lives after all!!)
Since making this bread last week I have had another attempt at it:
As you can see I have managed to produce a very different looking loaf! This time round I opted for freshly bought strong white flour (as opposed to plain and self raising that had been sitting in my cupboard for some time) and I put some poppy seeds on top too. I also used some sea salt this time. I probably left the dough for a few hours longer before cooking also. The result was a tastier loaf which I am happier with (it also meant not having to mix and measure two different kinds of flour). It got a big thumbs up from the boys too!