Super-easy South African seed bread
Can't be bothered to nurture a sourdough starter? Make this quick, easy, nutty (or, rather, seedy) bread instead
Even at the height of the pandemic I never really got stuck into sourdough (well, maybe for a week or two but it didn’t last once I realised what a tyranny it was endlessly feeding the starter). But there is something about the smell of a freshly baked loaf which is deeply comforting.
I got obsessed by this bread on a trip to South Africa - Ooo, at least 20 years ago - and managed to track down a recipe thanks to the lovely people at the Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town.
It doesn’t even need kneading - it really is one of the easiest breads ever and deliciously malty and crumbly
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South African seed bread
You will need a 900g loaf tin, preferably non-stick
450g malthouse or granary flour
50g sunflower seeds + extra for topping
15g each poppy and sesame seeds + extra for topping
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp easy blend yeast
2 tsp barley malt extract (available from health food stores) or clear honey
1 tbsp sunflower oil + extra for oiling the tin
Tip the flour, bran, seeds and salt into a large bowl and mix together well.
Measure out 500ml of lukewarm water and stir in the barley malt extract or honey.
Sprinkle the yeast over the flour mix and pour over the oil and half the liquid. Start mixing it together with a wooden spoon. gradually adding as much extra liquid as the flour will absorb. The consistency should be slightly wetter than a normal loaf. Keep stirring until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl (about 2 minutes). Tip the dough into a well oiled loaf tin, pressing it down evenly.
Using a teaspoon carefully sprinkle some more seeds in vertical lines down the length of the dough (see photo) and press down gently.
Cover the tin loosely with a lightly dampened teatowel or a sheet of clingfilm and leave to rise for about 25-30 minutes until the surface of the loaf is about 1.5cm from the top of the tin.
Meanwhile heat the oven to 200°C/170°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Bake the loaf for about 40 minutes.
Using a round-bladed knife loosen the sides of the loaf away from the tin, carefully ease it out then return the bread to the oven for a final 5 minutes for the base to crisp up.
Take the loaf from the oven and leave on a cooling rack until completely cold before slicing. It's particularly good with cheddar and also with butter and honey. Or just good butter, tbh.
Did you get swept up by sourdough mania during lockdown? And if so has it left you baking regularly or feeling you never want to make a loaf again? (If the former do point us to your favourite bread recipe!)
This was a household staple when growing up, I should give it another go.
There is no tyranny in sourdough if you ignore the constant feeding.
I have a little Addis screw cap plastic 'jar' holding about 200gm/ml that I mix into 50:50 flour (rye preferably) to water. If you have an old starter better still, put what you can in, then top up with the 50:50 mix to 75% full. Pop in the fridge for a day or two to when the jar is full of bubbly goodness.
Use half to make your mother overnight by duplicating the amount you removed from the jar into a mixing bowl. Also replace what you removed back into the jar. It will keep in the fridge for weeks but I usually use any that is a bit acidic or watery in my normal bread whenever I remember to, leaving a little behind and and top up the jar.
Always leave a space at the top of the jar or else the lid will blow off and go straight through the shelf above with some violence.