New Bread

January 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Dick, Eating and Drinking | Leave a comment
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Erratic shop opening times over the hols (as well as the desire to stay in pyjamas all morning) makes the New Year the perfect time to bake some bread. Inspired by last week’s visit to the Imperial War Museum’s Ministry of Food exhibition, I decided to make the wholemeal bread from Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall’s accompanying cookbook of the same name.

J F-W adapts her recipe from the Vicomte de Mauduit’s They Can’t Ration These, and I in turn adapted this by replacing half of the wholemeal flour with half white (the last time I made wholemeal bread it was a little dense to say the least). As the process of making bread takes around 4 1/2 hours from start to finish it’s worth making this on a day when you are planning on staying in or near your home.

To make two loaves:

3/4 lb wholemeal flour

3/4lb white flour

1 1/2 tsp dried yeast

1 dessert spoon of black treacle or honey

450ml hot water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Dissolve the treacle/honey in the hot water and let it cool to lukewarm before adding to the flour mixture. Mix first with a fork and then with your hands and knead for about 10 minutes.

Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a damp cloth (or cling film). Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This usually takes around two hours.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead before cutting it into two pieces. Roll the pieces out to fit into two 1.5 litre loaf tins and leave to rise for another two hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°c (400°F)/gas mark 6.

Bake the loaves for 20-30 mins. They are cooked when they sound hollow when tapped on the underneath. Leave to cool on wire racks but try to eat at least some while the bread is still warm, in the style of Dick in Five Run Away Together:

‘”Doesn’t that new-made bread smell awfully good?” said Dick, feeling very hungry as usual. “Can we just grab a bit do you think?”

“Yes, let’s,” said George. So they broke off bits of the warm brown crust, handed some to Julian, who was rowing, and chewed the delicious new-made bread. Timmy got a bit too, but his was gone as soon as it went into his mouth.’

The Ministry of Food tried to discourage the populace from eating new-made bread during the war as slightly stale day-old bread would go that much further. Furthermore, the only bread commercially available from 1942 was the ‘National Loaf’. This was more nutritious than white bread, had added calcium to help prevent rickets, and was widely despised by those who had to eat it (Ministry of Food, p. 23). For children reading Five Run Away Together when it was first published in 1944, the description of the Kirrins’ early morning feast of warm, freshly-baked bread must have been especially mouth-watering.

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