Coronavirus lockdown time had everyone baking bread. I was a bit of a laggard – we don’t eat a lot of bread so it was not my first thought. But, 4 months later than everyone else, I saw a recipe that had me visiting my secret supplier of bakers flour and fresh yeast (everywhere else was out of good quality product), and this beautiful loaf was born.
The recipe that excited my bread-baking genes was one from Nigel Slater that includes spelt flour and dry cider! The cider gives it a lovely, almost sour dough, tang. It is mixed with milk for a beautiful soft crust. This is Good Bread!
Spelt and Cider Loaf
250g spelt flour (wholemeal spelt can be used)
250g strong white bread flour
1 lightly heaped tspn sea salt
150ml full-cream milk
1 tspn honey
35g fresh yeast or 12g dried yeast
250ml dry cider
Warm a large mixing bowl. Weigh the flours into the warmed bowl and stir in the salt.
Warm the milk in a small saucepan until tepid – not boiling – you should be able to test it with your little finger. Stir in the honey until it dissolves.
Cream the yeast with a teaspoon in a small bowl, slowly pouring in the warm milk and honey. When it is smooth, pour onto the flours along with the cider and mix well with your hands. When the dough has formed a rough ball, tip out onto a lightly oiled or floured surface. Knead gently for one minute.
Lightly flour the bowl you mixed the dough in and put the kneaded dough in it. Cover with a clean, warm cloth and leave in a warm, draught-free place for an hour.
Remove the dough and knead lightly for a minute. Return to the bowl, cover and return to the warm place for another 25-30 minutes, or until risen again.
Heat the oven to 240ºC.
Knead the dough again, this time forming it into a ball, then place it onto a floured baking tray and dust generously with flour. Cover with a clean cloth and keep warm for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove the cloth and place the dough in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. If it is brown and crispy, remove it from the oven, turn upside down and tap the bottom. If it is cooked it will sound hollow.
Cool on a wire rack.