Ch-ch-ch-changes

A few factors have combined to make this blog somewhat barren in recent weeks. For that, I apologize. I’m not suggesting there’s anyone out there who lives and dies by a new post here, but I do know the frustration of a favourite blog going mysteriously silent, and checking and checking and checking back to see if they have finally updated it! I hate the thought of putting anyone else through that agony, so I promise to do better. This should be relatively easy, because I’m about to have a lot more time on my hands.

I finished work on Wednesday and have officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. (Well, I do have some freelance work – my colleagues can’t let me go! – but I’m mostly unemployed.) The reason is that Edward I are leaving London a couple of months from now to move to Rugby, a market town in the Midlands, where he has a teaching job. We’re both extremely excited for the opportunity, slightly scary though it is. There will be lots of changes to adapt to – new people, a new part of England, a small town, boarding school life. There will also be, hopefully, lots of new opportunities, including the chance for me to dabble in a few different pursuits and figure out what I really want to do when I, you know, grow up.

To add to this big change in life circumstances, a smaller change around here is a newfound commitment to health. After a long, sedentary winter I am feeling decidedly sluggish. Too many cakes and not enough green things.

So, with this renewed interest in good health and wholesome baking, I present to you a loaf that is all kinds of healthy! This bread was inspired by some fantastic seed and whole grain flour I was kindly sent by the girls at Wild Card. If millet, barley, rye and linseed don’t scream healthy, then I don’t know what does. This recipe makes a wonderful soft, textured sandwich bread – the kind that I hated as a kid, but love now. To get that lovely, nubby texture look for a flour with lots of seeds and grains in the ingredients, or add a small handful of mixed seeds yourself. Whatever the grains and seeds in it, this is truly a loaf to help you back on the path to virtue.

Seed and Grain Loaf

325 g mixed grain flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1 tsp instant yeast
200 ml warm water (made with 50 ml boiling, 150 ml cold)

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter (or oil) using your fingertips. Add the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Place the ball of dough in a lightly buttered or oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and place in a warm place to rise for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. (It is fine to leave the dough much longer than this if necessary).

Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F. Punch down the dough to remove the air, shape it into a log and ease it into a 1-lb loaf pan. Cover again with the tea towel and set aside for at least 30 minutes, until the dough has puffed up and risen again.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top of the loaf is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. If the top is browning too fast, cover loosely with a piece of foil part way through baking. Cool before slicing.