Wednesday, 4 February 2009


So I know that I talked about beer bread recently, but when I was in Scotland I also made a few forays into baking regular bread. You know, the crusty, hearty loaves that fill the kitchen with that amazing smell and beg to be smeared with copious and innapropriate amounts of butter? First I tried this bread, that I halved to yield this yummy loaf:

It was soft and a little sweet, with a thin, hard crust that was really appealing. In the end I wished I had flattened the dough more so it would have been crustier, but like I said, with butter anything is better.

After a gift of a mini loaf pan for Christmas, I went for my second try. BUT. The stores were out of whole wheat flour. All three stores that we usually go to. So I had the idea that I would throw in flax seeds to make up for the white flour, just to make it a tad healthier. Normally I would grind the flax seeds (the vitamins, etc, are more digestible that way), but we didn't have fancy tools in that tiny Edinburgh kitchen, so I just threw a handful in whole. What came out were pretty little loaves, studded with dark flax seeds (or linseeds as the Brits say). The crust was browned nicely and the inside was soft and moist, and oh so delicious when sliced just barely warm in thick chunks, then smeared with butter, dapped with a little salt, and dipped in a bowl of chicken soup.

Winter blues, banished.

Crusty Bread with Flax Seeds

2 tbsp honey
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
2 tbsp whole flaxseeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white flour, plus more for kneading

1) In a bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups warm water with yeast, oil and honey. Let sit about 5 minutes till its a bit foamy, showing the yeast has activated.

2) Add the flax seeds, whole wheat flour and two cups of white flour, and the salt, mixing with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very sticky. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about ten minutes. You will need to keep a pile of flour on the side to scoop into the dough as you knead. Don't be afraid to do this, I ended up adding almost a cup extra of flour. You can tell the dough is kneaded when a finger punched into the dough comes out clean.

3) Shape into a loaf and put it in a loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let rise 45 minutes to an hour in a warm draft free place.

4) In a 350 degree oven, bake about 40 minutes, till crust is nicely golden. Let cool completely (or almost completely!) before slicing.

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