Recipe time! Who doesn’t love bread straight from the oven? You? In that case, I am going to have to ask you to leave. It’s okay, you can come back later. But I will be speaking about bread as if it were the one good thing in the world, the unknown force holding it all together, uniting people and keeping the dark at bay. This sounds like the beginning of a (rather bad) fantasy novel. It’s not. I just really like bread. This bread in particular.
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick recently. I can’t count calories to save my life and most diets sound inherently stupid to me. No carbohydrates? Are you kidding? We need them! Mostly, I just don’t like the focus on depriving yourself of this or that and weight-loss as the ultimate goal. My reasoning is this: if you eat healthily, pay attention to what you consume and how you do it, educate yourself as to what your body needs and try to give it just that most of the time – you should be healthy. And if you need to lose weight, you will probably do so as you become healthier.
That being said, I am NO angel. Oh no, sir. I still have ice cream. And chocolate. And, once in a while, potato chips. (Gasp! The horror!). But this now occurs more seldom than before, which I consider a success. Also, I try to eat as much as I can of food that I know to be good for me. This has turned out to be easier than I ever thought it would be. If you focus on getting the best nutrition for your body you’ll find yourself eating a lot. Non-stop, almost. There’s so much fruit to be had, beans and grains and salads and hummus and oh, god, the falafel. We’ll get to that later.
As part of my get-healthy-with-baby-steps-plan, I’ve been baking my own bread. No preservatives or additives and I control what goes in it. Even if you could not care less about health or nutrition: make this bread. It is awesome. I found the recipe here a long time ago. This page is an unbelievable source of healthy recipes so be sure to check it out! This is what you do:
First, preheat your oven to 180-190°C (350-370°F). Then, combine all dry ingredients. I use spelt flour, but you can probably use whatever flour you like – you just might have to adjust the amount of liquid. Add seeds and/or nuts. I never measure these, just add a healthy amount. Stir agave nectar (or honey, you could definitely substitute honey) into buttermilk. I use AB-mjólk, as it’s called in Icelandic, a buttermilk with added acidophilus and bifidus cultures; healthy bacteria. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and combine. Don’t overdo it, just fold it in until dough is combined. The dough should be quite wet – not runny, but not so thick that you could knead it. If it’s too dry, add a bit of water.
That is your basic bread. But I like to tweak it! You can add just about everything you think would taste good: herbs, lemon, sundried tomatoes, olives… You name it. I improvised a rough-round-the-edges pesto: chopped some basil, grated some garlic (simple and so quick!) and parmesan cheese and combined with a splash of olive oil. I then folded this into the dough.
Line a basic loaf tin with baking paper – or use a lightly greased silicone loaf tin. “Pour” the dough in. Again, it shouldn’t be runny. Put it in the oven for around 40-50 minutes.
If you’re like me and have no patience at all, go find something else to eat while the bread is in the oven, because the unbelievable smell will drive you out of your mind if you don’t. I had a crispbread with the sweet potato hummus I made yesterday. After about 40 minutes, check on your bread. I like to lift mine out of the tin for the last 10 minutes of baking time or so – which is super easy because of the baking paper. Check your bread the ususal way: insert a pin or knife, if it comes out clean, the bread is ready.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Or, if you’re like me, don’t. Carefully cut off a slice and admire your handiwork: the bread should be dense, yet fluffy; super soft but with a killer crust and smell like heaven.
Mine did. Now, get cheese. And a bit of honey – organic, of course. Also, get your sea salt out. This might be my undoing. Eat a warm slice with cheese, a dribble of honey and just a tiny sprinkle of salt while standing up and gazing lovingly at the loaf. Repeat.
Then, curse yourself for not doubling the recipe. Enjoy!