Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Grant loaf

Even though the first Grant loaf I made wasn't a complete success, I was eager to try it again. I can't think of a quicker or easier bread than this - a quick mixing, no kneading, and just one short rise in the tin. And the taste, especially with spelt flour, was very pleasant, especially for sandwiches or toast. The two main problems the first time were over-rising, and mismatch between the size of the dough and the size of the tin (even without the over-rising). This time I was less nervous about the brevity of the rising period (only 30 minutes if the room is warm), so when I saw that the bread was reaching the top of the tin I whipped it straight into the oven 31 minutes after starting the rise. I also used a combination of wholemeal and spelt flour, which rises slightly less rapidly than spelt flour alone.

The second problem was solved by using a different version of the recipe. Last time I used Linda Collister's recipe, which called for 700 g of flour and 600 ml of water, to go in a 900 g loaf tin. I looked at a few other versions of the Grant loaf, and all of them used less flour, less liquid, or both. I ended up using proportions similar to those in a Delia recipe - she may be boring but she's generally reliable. And indeed, this time the dough fit the tin perfectly, rising to just under the rim before I baked it, and just poking its head over the top to get nicely browned in the oven.

570 g stoneground wholemeal or spelt flour
1 heaped teaspoon salt
2 level teaspoons easy-blend dried yeast
1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar
400 ml hand-hot water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 100C. Butter a 900 g loaf tin.

Warm the flour in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the flour, then turn the oven up to 200C.

Place the warmed flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. With a large spoon, mix the liquid into the flour to form a dough. Add a trickle more water if necessary (it's better to make it a bit too liquid than too dry - this is naturally a moist loaf). Work the dough, preferably with your hands though with a spoon will do, for about 1 minute, until the dough is smooth and comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Tip the dough into the prepared tin, and scatter with sesame seeds. Cover with a damp, clean teatowel and leave to rise until the dough reaches the top of the tin. With wholemeal flour, this should take about 30-40 minutes in a warm place, up to an hour at cool room temperature. Spelt flour rises a little quicker, so keep an eye on it.

Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. Test that the bread is cooked by turning it out of its tin and knocking on the bottom - it should sound hollow. If it sounds dead, put it back into the oven for 5 minutes and then try again. Cool the bread on a wire rack before eating.

1 February 2004

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