Yeast is a living fungus and to grow it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. It feeds on sugar and produces carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise. Hot water above 110°F will kill yeast; have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. The yeast will rise on sugar or treacle. At Ballymaloe we use treacle. The dough rises more rapidly with
The flour we use is stone-ground wholemeal. Different flours produce breads of different textures. The amount of natural moisture in flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead – in fact it does not require kneading. The main ingredients – wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast – are highly nutritious.
1 × loaf tin, 13 × 20cm approx.
Mix the flour with the salt and warm it very slightly (in the cool oven of an Aga or Esse, or in a gas or electric oven when starting to heat). In a small bowl, mix the treacle with some of the water (as indicated in ingredients list) and crumble in the yeast. Put the bowl in a warm position such as the back of the cooker. Grease bread tins and put them to warm; also warm a clean tea-towel. Look to see if the yeast is rising. It will take about 5 minutes to do so and will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.
When ready, stir it well and pour it, with most of the remaining water, into the flour to make a wettish dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead. Put the mixture into the greased, warmed tins and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tins back in the same position as used previously to raise the yeast. Put the tea-towel over the tins. In about 20 minutes the loaves will have risen by twice their original size. Remove the tea-towel and
We usually remove the loaves from the tins about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.
© 2001 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.