Our saviour. Basis of infinite breakfasts, absorber of alcohol, vessel for transporting numerous dips and spreads into our mouths, blank canvas for a world of toppings and fillings suitable at every hour of the day. I wholly follow the religion of bread.
The religion of bread has a number of denominations. Some choose the path of the standard sliced white – one I had previously conformed to in my childhood years (we called it cloud bread because it was squidgy and tasted like air). Then there’s the brown loaf, seeded, spelt, soda bread, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel (I could go on but I’m beginning to realise how sad my dedication to bread is so I’ll stop) – but basically, there’s an amazing variety of bread in the world. It genuinely baffles me how every culture in the world has their own variation of the same basic ingredients.
It genuinely saddens me when people say that they’re ‘cutting bread/carbs out’ of their diets because it’s been demonised as an unhealthy food. It’s like saying you’re cutting out all cereal because Frosties are bad for you – all bread is made of different stuff; some made out of refined white flours, some made from wholemeal grains, some made from rye grains etc – all of which have different nutritional values. The process also has a massive impact on the overall nutritional content. The fermentation process of sourdough, for example, means that the lactic acid produced slows down the absorption of glucose into the body, making it low GI, as well as making the vitamins and minerals in the bread much easier for the body to absorb. And it actually tastes of something, and actually fills you up. It’s a win win win.
So in keeping with my ode to bread in all its denominations, I’m posting 3 recipes for (kind of) breads. I’d love to be able to grow my own sourdough starter to make my own, but our fridge is the size of a hotel mini fridge and a jar of fermenting yeast has no place in it. So I’ve done a couple of recipes for grain-free breads instead.
This first one is for flaxseed buns, because I got the new Hemsley and Hemsley book in the post and had to try something from it immediately. The dough for this is more like a batter so don’t be worried if you have to spoon it onto the baking tray rather than mould into buns – the bicarb will make it rise (though not very much). They’re good for heating in the oven and dipping into soup, though if you want more of a sandwich bread I’d go for the seeded spelt soda bread I posted a couple of weeks ago. Annoyingly I took the photos for these buns on my nice camera and I can’t find my cable but I’ll post a picture of them as soon as I find it.
Flaxseed buns (adapted from Hemsley and Hemsley’s new book, Good and Simple)
150g found flaxseeds
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp sea salt, and a pinch of pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil (I used butter because I wanted to save my coconut oil for when you can actually taste it)
3 tbsp water
Sprinkle of mixed seeds (optional but recommended)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Mix the flaxseeds, bicarb, salt and pepper in a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Add the eggs, honey, melted butter, water and cider vinegar and beat until it forms a batter. Leave this for 5 minutes to thicken up.
- Take about 2 big tablespoons of the batter and form into a ball shape, before placing on the baking tray. Repeat until you’ve formed 6 balls/splodges of batter.
- If using seeds, sprinkle these on now before placing in the oven and baking for about 20 minute until brown.
- Leave to cool completely before slicing and using as a bun or reheating and dipping into soup. I broke into mine when still hot and to me the consistency was a bit softer and eggier than when I reheated it.
The second recipe is for these amazingly colourful beetroot and cauliflower sandwich thins adapted from Green Kitchen Stories. It makes one massive flatbread that you cut into whatever shape or size you want, so naturally next time I make it I’m going to do a giant savoury swiss roll with it. I added dried thyme to the dough, but you can add whatever herbs and spices you fancy to match your sandwich fillings.
Beetroot and Cauliflower Bread
2 medium beetroots
1 small cauliflower
100g ground almonds (I used a mixture of ground, roasted hazelnuts and almonds which I recommend)
Salt, pepper and any herbs or spices
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets. Peel and chop the beetroot into chunks.
- Place both into a food processor and process until they’re about the size of grains of rice.
- Combine the cauliflower and beetroot together. Measure out about 10 tablespoons of the mixture and place into a separate bowl with the salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
- Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs in. Whisk them with a fork, and then pull the dry ingredients towards the centre until combined. The mixture should be wet, but you should be able to mould it into a kind-of ball. If not, add a bit more of the cauliflower/beetroot mixture until you can.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and flatten the dough with your hands so that it reaches all the edges.
- Bake this for about 25 minutes until firm.
- Let the bread cool before slicing in whatever manner you please. I cut mine into 8 bread-sized slices and filled my sandwich with hummus, smashed avocado with lemon juice, half a mashed up baked sweet potato and some toasted seeds.
The third recipe I’m including in this triple bill is a shortbread (it counts because it has bread in the name). This was an experiment when I had a few blood oranges about to go off and I wanted to use their amazing colour for something sweet, but apparently it’s one of my most popular creations yet. I actually had someone request that I put the recipe up, which is a first.
Candied Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Shortbread
225g plain flour
175g butter, cold and cubed
75g caster sugar
1/2 blood oranges, sliced thinly
About 6 tbsp sugar mixed with 100ml water
100g 80% dark chocolate
- Place the sugar/water mixture into a saucepan and onto the hob. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the blood orange slices and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, topping up with a little water to stop them sticking if you need to.
- Remove the orange slices and leave on a piece of baking parchment to dry. Tip – I added a bit of extra sliced orange peel to the pan so that I could keep taking little pieces out and tasting them to see if they had crystallised yet. It should taste like candied fruit.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150 degrees c. Line a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
- Place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pause for inevitable hand cramp.
- Add the sugar and mix around with your hands, before bringing the mixture together into a dough.
- Turn the dough out into the baking tin and press down with your hands until the dough flattens and reaches all sides and corners of the tin.
- Bake for 30 minutes until light golden brown. Lift out of the tray using the parchment and slice into 8-10 squares, depending on how large your orange slices are. Leave to cool whilst melting the chocolate.
- Break up and place the chocolate into a bowl, before placing the bowl over a pan of simmering water to gently melt the chocolate.
- Once melted, take half a candied orange slice and dip into the chocolate, and place carefully onto one square. Repeat with all the other slices.
- If you have leftover chocolate and orange slices, dip the rest of the oranges into the chocolate and leave to set. They make good grazing food.