This is an easy recipe for beginners as there is no kneading and the whole process can be completed in an evening. You won’t believe that such a simple recipe can produce such a delicious and hearty bread.
My family has been baking bread at home for generations. Some of my earliest memories involve waking up at my Nana’s house to the smell of hot bread, fresh out of the oven. I would be drawn out of bed and into the kitchen like a cartoon character being carried along on the captivating scent. And the taste! Nutty, crusty and wholesome and yet utterly indulgent. Her recipe created a moist, dense wholemeal loaf perfect for toasting.
When my Nana died several years ago, I thought the recipe may have died with her. But this wasn’t the case. After her funeral, my Aunt Maren presented me with a gift. A small, pocket sized paperback with the odd title ‘How to cook food you can eat’. This booklet was published by my Uncle Francis when he was managing a youth hostel in the 70’s to encourage his guests to cook healthy food while travelling. Amongst the downright strange recipes that include ‘carrot cheddar casserole’ and ‘curried bananas’, on page 50, there it was – ‘Francis’ Hostel Bread’ . This was the Hansen family bread recipe. And now I want to share it with you.
Th is my favourite bread to eat with hearty winter soups or toasted and spread with strong flavoured honey. Oh yeah!
Hansen Family Wholemeal Bread
1 dessert spoon of dried instant yeast
1 dessert spoon honey (the stronger flavoured, the better)
500 ml warm water
6 cups of wholemeal plain flour
1 cup of strong bread flour
1 dessert spoon of gluten flour (optional but adds to the chewy texture)
1 dessert spoon of salt (fine)
Additional wet ingredients:
2 tablespoons of oil (I like the flavour of olive oil)
250-350 ml warm water
1. Yeast starter:
Dissolve the honey in 500ml warm water in a good size bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Do not stir. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the yeast forms a frothy top.
2. Meanwhile, brush 2 bread tins with oil and dust with flour, shaking excess into a large bowl.
3. Combine all the flour mix ingredients in a large bowl and form a well in the middle.
4. Pour in the yeast starter, the oil and the extra warm water (hold back a bit at first). Mix with a large spoon until you get an evenly combined, very sticky mixture, adding extra water if too dry.
5. Spoon into tins and smooth down. Leave to rise for around 40 minutes to an hour in a warm place. It should double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Bake for 10 minutes to kill the yeast.
7. Turn oven down to 170 degrees and bake for a further 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Tops can be brushed with oil while hot.
Can be frozen successfully – thinly slice before freezing.