I love my oven. I love the way food is transformed in it – you turn on the heat, put in some raw ingredients, wait a bit and behold! Out comes edible magic. Since I’m not very good at baking cakes, I tend to use my oven more frequently to make casseroles, slow roasts and little bakes like muffins and cookies.
And bread, of course.
If you find the whole idea of baking your own bread a thoroughly daunting process, I suggest you start with something simple like this classic spoon bread. ‘Spoon bread’ simply means that the dough ingredients are stirred together with a spoon, and that no kneading is required. The dough – or more appropriately, batter – should be the consistency of thick porridge and drop off the spoon slowly.
Hardly anything can go wrong with this recipe, really, except if you’re using stale yeast, or if your oven’s temperature gauge is wonky. ( I eliminate this problem by getting a technician to check my oven’s temperature every year: a small price to pay to avoid ruining endless meals.)
Stoneground organic flour gives the best results – and remember that wholewheat flour can and does get stale, so use yours well before the expiry date on the package.
Easy Cape Seed Loaf
This is a typical spoonbread, in that the dough is stirred together into quite a soft batter, before being poured into the loaf tins where it rises for an hour. Freezes beautifully for up to 1 month and makes lovely toast, too – ideal for the recipe with rosemary roast mushrooms. Makes 2 medium loaves.
2 cups Nutty Wheat (coarse wholemeal flour)
2 cups stoneground brown bread flour
1 cup stoneground white bread flour
1 ½ sachets (15g) instant yeast
1 T (15ml) each of: sesame, poppy, sunflower and linseeds
Extra seeds to sprinkle over before baking
1 ½ t (7,5ml) salt
1 T (15ml) oil
1 t (5ml) honey
3 cups (750ml) warm water (slightly warmer than tepid)
- Mix all the dry ingredients with the yeast, salt and seeds.
- Dissolve the honey in the warm water and add the oil.
- Pour the water into the flour mixture and stir very well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. It should be the consistency of thick porridge.
- Spoon into two x 1 kg capacity pre-sprayed loaf tins, sprinkle seeds over and cover with clingfilm and a few clean, dry cloths. Set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile heat the oven to 200 C. Once risen, bake the loaves on a wire rack in the centre of the oven for 1 hour, until golden brown and the bases sound hollow when rapped with your knuckles. (Slide the loaf out of the tin to do this, no point rapping the base of the tin!)
- Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
This recipe appeared in my cookbook Easy: Simple and Delicious, which was published by Random House Struik in 2010.