Making bread is hard, yes? All that kneading of the dough. Lots of faffing around waiting for it to prove?
But what if I was to tell you that you could make a decent loaf with no needing and that all you needed to do was quickly mix your ingredients together, leave it overnight then bake it first thing? And the bread it made was rather good?
Actually there's long been an easy way to make a loaf without kneading. It's called the Grant Loaf after Doris Grant who, in the 1940s, forgot to knead her bread and found it tasted delicious.
Unfortunately though the Grant loaf is a rather dense and heavy loaf, usually made purely with wholemeal flour (Doris thought white flour bad and wrong) and every time I've made it, it's like eating a brick.
However recently I had an newsletter in my inbox from flour merchants Shipton Mill, telling readers about a new method of knead-free bread making which is all based around a baking your bread in a pot.
You can read more about the process on their website but the concept goes like this:
- Mix ingredients together
- Put ingredients in a cast iron pot - like a Le Crueset casserole pot
- Leave for eight hours
- Put pot in oven
- Bake bread
- Eat bread
I've been meaning to try one of the four recipes for the loaf (all linked to from the article above) for ages but last night, after getting home at 10:30, I quickly donned an apron and got mixing.
As I have a sourdough starter in my fridge, I opted to try the white sourdough pot loaf. I love sourdough bread but it's not always the easiest to make. I have a California sourdough recipe which works wonders, but I've had trouble with other recipes. Usually the bread rises perfectly but when you cut inside it's all a doughy pulpy mess - yes, even when I'd tapped it to see if it sounded hollow. As such, this would make an interesting challenge.
With a wee dram of whisky to one side, I mixed up the ingredients, shoved them in my pot and went to bed and waited until morning. Nine or so hours later I stumbled downstairs, head now full of a cold, and opened up my pot.
On first glance it seemed the dough hadn't risen much, but from experience I know my sourdough bread tends to rise a lot more during the baking phase for some reason. Sure enough after 45 minutes in the oven the result looked a lot better (you can see it at the top of this page.) With a perfectly round shape, it looked more like a cake than a loaf, but a quick tap underneath confirmed it was properly baked.
A few hours later I decided to have some with some soup for lunch and cut into the loaf. The result was a perfect looking sourdough loaf - lots of nice air bubbles in the bread and with that great sourdough smell. The bread itself was very slightly sticky but it tasted as good as my normal Californian sourdough and no mistake.
Such was the result that I decided to try another variant - this time the white bread using normal yeast. It's in a pot as I type now and will be ready for baking this evening.
So if you've ever wanted to bake your own bread but been put off by the process, well it's time to think again. Just get out your pot and get baking!