#217 Granary Bread with Walnuts

It’s been a while since I’ve done a bread recipe, and I’m definitely out of practise. I chose this one because it seemed suitably wintery, plus it used up flour that has been sat in the cupboard for a while now and I am trying to clear them, as I’ve mentioned previously. (As an aside, does anyone have a recipe that uses rice flour? It’s been sat there since that rubbish rice cake.) The main ingredient is granary flour, though I’m sure you could use wholewheat instead; I used a little stoneground flour left over from the Northumbrian Wholemeal Scones and Doris Grant’s Loaf from yonks ago. Grigson calls granary flour ‘Granary’ flour, because it’s a proprietary blend of malted flour and other nice things from one particular miller, though she doesn’t say who.

Don’t be put off by bread-making, Grigsoners, I really like doing it, and did start to get good at it, and even if it is a bit on the heavy-side, it will taste so much better than bought stuff. I think that it is the yeast flavour. Supermarket bakeries cannot compete – even with your worst effort!
Sift together a pound of ‘Granary’ flour, 4 ounces of strong white bread flour and 2 teaspoons of fine sea salt in the bowl of a food mixer. Add a packet of dried fast-action yeast (I reckon that’s about 2 level teaspoons) and mix well. Using the dough hook, stir in around ½ pint of warm water so that a soft, rough dough forms around the hook. Add two tablespoons of walnut oil and briefly knead, add more flour to make it smooth before placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and allow to ferment in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk. The time could be anywhere between an hour and several hours, depending on where you do this. As I don’t have an airing cupboard, I pop the bowl over the radiator. Knock back the dough (i.e. punch the air out of it) and knead in 4 ounces of roughly chopped walnuts. Now either place in an oiled loaf tin (or tins) or make it into a shape. I decided on a nice big round rustic loaf (i.e. the easiest). Use a very sharp knife and make some slashes on the top of the loaf and, bake in a very hot oven – 230⁰C – until cooked; this will depend upon the shape and size of your loaf, mine took 25 minutes. The way to tell is to tap the bottom – if it sounds hollow, it is done. Cool on a wire rack and eat with cheese, a winter stew or warm with butter and honey, I reckon.

#217 Granary Bread with Walnuts. Definitely the best bread so far – dense and with a good crumb, but not heavy. The flavour of the walnuts and the oil come through well, but are relatively neutral so that it would go equally well with sweet or savoury food. It’s very easy to make, all you need is some patience. Great stuff – a really nice, country loaf that is a little different, yet very classically English. 7.5/10.

#81 Northumbrian Wholemeal Scones

Another venture into yeast cookery. This one uses fresh yeast; a new one on me. It’s much better than the dried stuff. Also, I have a giant bag of stone-ground flour left over from Doris Grant’s Loaf the other month, and what with the credit crunch and the whole of the Western World going into liquidisation, it’s best I try to be a bit frugal. Also, I have finished the no carb diet I was on, and so the other reason I went for this recipe is that it uses proper organic brown flour with all the bits and wheatgerm and everything inside, and that must be better than white bread. In fact, my house is a white carb-free zone from now on (unless it’s in a recipe for the blog, natch). Oh, I bought the yeast from the Barbakan deli in Chorlton – an excellent bakery, probably the best in Manchester – for only 20p per 100 grams. I thought I may as well use what the best use. I hear that supermarkets with bakeries within will give you it for free.

I have no idea what make these scones particularly Northumbrian. Ideas anyone?

Here’s what to do…

Makes about 12 scones.

Mix 1 ½ pounds of stone-ground wholemeal flour with a teaspoon of salt, rub in 2 ounces of chilled lard (I used hands here rather than the mixer for a change) and make a well in the middle. Mix ¼ pint of milk with ¼ pint of boiling water and pour about a teacup full of it into dish or small bowl and stir in a tablespoon of golden syrup. Fork in an ounce of fresh yeast into the syrup mixture and allow it to froth up. This is much quicker than the dried stuff, it took only 10 minutes in my cold kitchen! Tip it into the flour along with the rest of the water-milk mixture. Be careful though, don’t add it all at once; you need a ‘soft but not sloppy dough’ says Griggers. I actually needed a little more. Put some clingfilm over the top of the bowl so it doesn’t dry out and let the Sacchromyces do its work until the dough as doubled in size. Roll out the dough, keeping it fairly thick, and cut out rounds with a scone cutter. Place scones on a baking tray, cover again and allow to prove. When they’ve risen again, brush them with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes at 220ºC.

#81 Northumbrian Wholemeal Scones – 7/10. Griggers suggests eating them hot with butter and honey. And so right she is. Bloody marvellous. They are just as good as normal scones. They’re not sweet, but a lovely malty flavour instead. I also had some the next day for a quick tea – split two and grilled them with cheese on. I’ve frozen the rest to keep me in a constant supply.

#78 Doris Grant’s Loaf

I was “working from home” the other day and therefore needed to procrastinate heavily; been making a poster for the Faculty of Life Science Research Symposium and though there’d be fewer distractions at home where there’s the internet, telly and the kitchen. I thought I’d have another stab at bread recipe and the last one was very nice, but I rushed it rather. Then I remembered Doris Grant’s Loaf – I had bought some stone-ground wholemeal flour specifically for the recipe, but had totally forgotten about it. I’m trying to get fit at the moment and so trying to cut down on white carbs, so this one was right up my street, plus Griggers says that as long as you can read and measure you can make this bread as it requires no kneading. I’m not too sure about that, but it is easy and certainly a welcome change.

Add 1 ½ level tablespoons of dried yeast to 1 ½ rounded teaspoons of dark Barbados sugar (you can use honey, but I like burnt liquorice taste you get off molasses) and whisk in 1 ½ tablespoons of blood-heat water in a small bowl. Leave yeast to active and foam, which takes 20-30 minutes. I found that placing the bowl in a larger one filled with warm water sped the whole process up. While that’s happening weight out 1 ½ pounds of stone-ground wholemeal flour into a large bowl and mix in a teaspoon of salt. If (like me) you don’t have somewhere warm like an airing-cupboard, but the flour in an over at the lowest temperature possible and let it warm through. When the yeast is ready, make a well in the flour and pour in the frothy mixture and slowly pour in one pint of blood-heat water, mixing thoroughly with your hands (no need for mixers, here!). The dough should be quite sticky, though you may find you don’t need all the water. Split the mixture between a large and a small loaf tin that have been greased and allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes (I put it back in the still-warm oven). Bake for 40 minutes at 200°C.

FYI: Doris Grant was a very popular post-war cook and suggested this recipe as an alternative to the ‘national loaf’, which I can imagine flaccid and tasteless (though probably no way near as bad as our standard supermarket loaves these days).

#78 Doris Grant’s Loaf – 8/10. On my first slice, I thought I’d messed it up as it is not a light fluffy loaf, but quite heavy and mealy like soda bread. After another slice, I was hooked, and managed to eat most it to myself! Griggers suggests slicing it thinly with smoked salmon, but I’m not really a fan, so I had butter, farmhouse Cheddar and chilli jam. Go out and make this!!