Thursday, 23 June 2011


We make all our own bread.    Most of the time, we use a breadmaker (yeah, yeah, that's not really making it myself, heard it all before, don't agree).  If I'm using something that needs a starter (like Sourdough, Pain de Campagne,  or Ciabatta) or if I'm making unleavened bread (Naan, chapatis, piadines etc). then I do it by hand.  Every so often I get enthused enough to try something from my Linda Collister book, and these I do by hand as well.

When it comes to the breadmaker,  I love white bread.  My Panny does a really good quick white bread, and I made this so often that I ended up easuring out the ingredients into a stack of tubs, so I didn't need to weigh and measure the four every time.  I just opened a tub and it had th right amount of flour in.  until recently,  "rapid white loaf" was my default loaf.

I don't really like brown bread.  Brown bread (imho) is just about edible when it is fresh,  but it makes pathetic toast.    DH prefers brown bread.      We compromise by mixing flours (I love adding a small amount of Rye flour, as that really helps the toastability), adding things (seeds, grains),  trying to get something which satsifies both of us.  

We try weird breads as well (courgettes,  beer,  tomato),  and we use a book  especially written for  breadmakers by Jennie Shapter.  If you have a breadmaker, I would recommend her books. Actually, I have 2 of her books but all (bar 1) of her recipes I use come from a book called "Bread Machines & Beyond".      

There is one recipe from her earlier book that DH recently tried,  and it's become our default recipe. I now make this instead of rapid white. I'm amazed at myself.  It's called "Polenta and Wholemeal Loaf"

This recipe is for a loaf using the middle size setting on the breadmaker.  We've found a large loaf doesn't last any longer (it's the same number of slices after all, just bigger slices), and this works for us.

  • 1.5 teasp easyblend yeast
  • 400g wholemeal bread flour (although whenever possible we use something like Shipton Mill's Malthouse flour,  or Wessex Mills Cobber flour)
  • 50g polenta (we use fine cornmeal, andt we've used coarse cornmeal if we haven't had fine. And we've used semolina if we haven't had any cornmeal or polenta)
  • 50g strong white flour
  • 1.5 teasp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 300ml water
Put the ingredients in the breadmaker according to your machines normal order. For our Panny, we put the yeast in first, then the flours/polenta.  We put the salt in one corner, the honey in another, the butter in another.  We then put the water on top 
Set the machine to the wholemeal setting (medium crust if your machine lets you choose crust colour).  Our wholemeal setting takes 5 hours,  so I often use the timer so we can have this fresh for breakfast.

The cornmeal/polenta really adds a delicious texture.  The honey adds a lovely richness.

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