Welcome back to my blog and Autumn of Baking series. I hope you enjoyed my previous post, all about my gingerbread- making exploits! They were a huge hit in my household as they were all snaffled up during the week. If you fancy dipping in and seeing how I got on, click here!
As the temperature plummeted this week in the UK, my mind turned to hearty bakes that would keep me fuelled through cold wintery days. Although I love making dainty and delicate morsels, some days just call for a something more. So, this week, I decided to tackle one of my supermarket favourites, a multi-seed loaf.
I love bread. Yes, I know, I love cakes, buns and biscuits too, but my love affair with bread has gone on for longer than any of these. From my school days, when I always chose a small loaf instead of traditional packet of sweets to tuck into after school, to baking my own loaves, I just love the crunch of the crust and comfortingly pillow-like centre of a good loaf! One of my favourite loaves is a multi-seed, and I have always enjoyed buying a loaf for lunch one day, and then keeping the rest for toast during the week.
This loaf could be seen as more brown and boring, but a good seeded batch is a real joy, particularly spread with lashings of butter. It also has the added benefit of being slightly better for you than a white loaf!
Having never attempted any kind of wholemeal or brown loaf, I was a little apprehensive about making my own. Anytime wholemeal flour is mentioned on Food TV, it is always described as being frankly hard to work with. But having bitten the bullet, I was delighted to find that it wasn’t as tricky as I thought it might be. Although the dough is stickier than a dough made wholly with white flour, it isn’t anything that an extra sprinkle of flour and a little more care can’t fix.
The recipe I chose was adapted slightly from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, from a blog post by Christina from scaredycatkitchen.com. It is rather apt that I chose her post, given that I was a bit worried about making a multi-seed loaf! The recipe uses a stand mixer so if you have one, use it, but otherwise it worked just as well for me using my hands and a wooden spoon!
Here is the recipe…
Makes one large loaf
400g strong wholemeal bread flour
100g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting your work surface
10g instant yeast (I used Allison’s Dry Active Yeast)
2 tbsp. black treacle (otherwise known as molasses)
340ml cool water
250g mixed seeds (I used a 100g bag of mixed seeds, plus 75g each of poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds)
40g black sesame seeds (I used 20g of each poppy and sesame seeds)
A large mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
A tea towel
A sharp knife
How to make the bake
- Put both the flours into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook fitted. (ESB Top Tip : I didn’t use a stand mixer but instead mixed and kneaded by hand and it worked just as well but requires more elbow grease!) Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side, then add the treacle. (ESB Top Tip : Treacle gives the loaf a lovely rich colour as well as substituting any extra sugar.) Put in 3/4 of the water, lower the dough hook and start mixing at a slow speed. (ESB Top Tip : Instead of turning on the mixer, I mixed the dough carefully with a wooden spoon until it came together, then tipped out the contents of the bowl on to a clean surface and started to knead by hand.)
- As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the rest of the water, raise the speed to medium and leave the mixer to do its thing for 7 minutes. (ESB Top Tip : You may have to add a little more strong white bread flour to stop the dough from sticking to your surface if you are kneading by hand.)
- Turn off the mixer, add the mixed seeds (but not the sesame seeds) to the dough and start mixing again at a slow speed for 2 minutes. You may have to squash the last few seeds into the dough by hand. (ESB Top Tip : Adding the seeds to the dough feels like an impossible task, particularly since there are so many. But just take your time and knead them in a bit at a time until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)
- Turn off the mixer, take out the hook, cover the dough with a tea towel and leave it for 2 hours to rise to twice its size. (ESB Top Tip : Put the dough into the bowl you mixed it in and cover with a tea towel. The amount of seeds in the dough makes it rise slower than an ordinary white loaf.) In the meantime, line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Lightly flour your work surface, tip the dough onto the surface and knock the air out of it using your knuckles. Shape the dough into an oval by folding the edges into the centre a couple of times and then rolling it a little using the full length of your hands. (ESB Top Tip : Don’t worry about the shape of your loaf – it will taste delicious whatever shape it is and it is homemade, so if it looks rustic, it doesn’t matter. If you want a uniform shape, you can put the dough into a loaf tin!)
- Move the loaf to the baking sheet, brush it with a little warm water and sprinkle it with sesame seeds (or the mix of poppy and sesame seeds.) Slash the length of the loaf with a sharp knife.
- Put the tray into a clean plastic bag and leave the loaf to prove for an hour, until it has doubled in size. In the meantime preheat the oven to 230 C / 210 C Fan /450 F.
- Once the dough has proved, bake the loaf for 30 minutes until it sounds hollow when you tap the base. Leave it to cool on a wire rack and then pile on the cheese and chutney. (ESB Top Tip : My favourite way to eat this bread is with lots of butter and a steaming bowl of soup!)
My thoughts about making my first seeded loaf were very positive. Wholemeal flour didn’t turn out to be the nightmare I thought it might be, even when kneaded by hand and not by machine. The finished bread was deliciously seeded, dark and rich from the treacle and had a good crust and moist middle. It was big hit throughout the week as I ate it fresh on the first day, then on subsequent days as toast, and it kept really well in a sandwich bag.
Thank you for popping by to my blog today and joining me as I had a go at making my own multi-seed bread! If you decide to make it yourself, do tag me on Instagram, @englishsingingbaker #esbautumnofbaking.
See you next Wednesday at 1800 GMT for another new bake but until then,
English Singing Baker x