Happy New Year!
That uncomfortable “what day is it and what am I meant to be doing with my life?” week between Christmas and New Year is over and the New Year has been rung in worldwide. Did you have a good time? I’m hoping if this isn’t your favourite time of year for whatever reason, you’re now looking forward to getting on with life, as per usual. The feast days are done with, and your stomach is likely groaning at the thought of more rich, seasonal treats and is ready for plainer fare.
Food is a key component to my family’s life and we simply can’t have a gathering of more than two of us without bringing out “something special” (espresso and a glass of water for breakfast? Pah! I don’t think so! Bring out the full English and all the trimmings) at every meal. But now the festivities are winding down and ordinary life beckons, all we need are good, solid recipes for reliable staples, not decadent desserts and duck fat roasted potatoes!
Step away from the Quality Street my friends, it’s time for a simple sandwich, made with a super soft and Lightly Malted Sandwich Loaf.
Whether it’s for an emergency bacon buttie, the morning after the night before or for your lunchtime sandwich, there is nothing like a soft sandwich loaf. For years, I believed it was impossible to get the texture of supermarket sandwich loaves – I thought you could have taste or texture, but not both in the same loaf.
Then I discovered the secret – you need to add fat to soften up the crumb.
I’ve used a combination of cream and yogurt here and the loaf works as long as you add no more than 125g in total but you can vary the proportions to suit within that weight. Also, to bring a little flavour to your sandwich loaf, I add almost a third of the total flour weight as granary flour – think wholemeal nuttiness with malted wheat flakes and bran added. It gives smoky sweetness and a little bite from those chewy malted flakes.
This loaf is almost no knead (see my French Bread post for a video on how to do the kneads), it’s fast to prove and the rise is seriously impressive. You will need to lower your oven shelf to bake it! Once baked, being so tender, you have to exercise restraint and wait for it to go cold in order to slice neat slices.
It does keep well for a couple of days though but when does homemade bread ever last beyond 48 hours? If you the January saintly dietary resolve is strong with you my friend, you’ll have the best toast of your life on day three from my Lightly Malted Sandwich Loaf.
- 150 g granary flour
- 400 g strong white bread flour
- 1 rounded tsp dried active yeast
- 10 g sea salt
- 2 tsp malt extract or 2 tsp brown sugar
- 100 g double cream
- 25 g full fat Greek yogurt
- 1-2 tbsp granary flour
- 2 lb loaf tin
- Serrated knife or lame
Weigh out 250g warm water into a jug then add the cream and yogurt (see note below recipe).
Stir in the malt extract.
Weigh out the flours, yeast and salt into a large bowl (don't put the salt directly on top of the yeast or you'll kill it) and stir in the jug of liquid. Use a greased hand or a spatula to mix it all together but stop once you have a "shaggy mess". Cover with cling film and leave for the flour to absorb the moisture for 15 minutes.
Now grease your hands and work around the rough ball of dough, pulling it out then fold it back on itself for about 10 seconds. Leave for 15 minutes.
Repeat this ten second knead twice more with 15 minutes in between - it will get softer and smoother quickly, don't worry that it looks a mess when you start.
Leave to prove until doubled in size (approx 40-60 minutes).
Tip the dough out onto the work top and pat out to about an inch thick. Fold it in half, patting out again to an inch thick, turning the dough by 90 degrees with each fold until it is too tight to fold again. This is important as it builds up tension and helps give a good shape on the final prove.
Leave for 2-3 minutes then take the rough rectangle of dough you have in front of you and roll it up tightly like a fat sausage the length of your 2 lb loaf tin then pinch the seam to seal. Sit it in the tin and cover with cling film - tent it up as it may look small at this point but it will more than double and rise over the rim when it's ready to be baked.
Leave for approx 60 minutes until it has risen to the rim of the tin. Preheat the oven to 220˚C for the last 30 minutes or so and place a rack in the bottom third of the oven to allow for the exceptional rise on this loaf.
When ready to bake, sprinkle with the remaining flour and slash the loaf confidently and reasonably deeply three times on the diagnonal and bake on a low shelf for 35-40 minutes, turning the temperature down to 200˚C as you close the oven door.
The loaf will rise even more and will have a hollow sound when tapped. It should also easily release from the tin when fully baked. Use clean oven mitts to tip the loaf out of it's tin and onto a rack to fully cool before slicing.
You can use 125g full fat Greek yogurt instead of 100g cream + 25g yogurt. It will have more tang and be a little less tender crumbed but still definitely a sandwich loaf. Do not use single cream or runny yogurt.
The crust is thin but crisp on this loaf - to make it softer, cover the loaf with a tea towel once removed from the tin and the crumb will soften to match the interior.
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