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Bake your own bread: yes, it's really this simple.



Over the past 9 months (but who’s counting…) the fieldhouse has been closed and we, like most of our community, have spent far more time at home compared to the average year. So what have we, and our community been doing with this forced time indoors? Well, according to Instagram many people have spent a lot of their precious time baking bread, and Merakos is no exception to this trend: we've been baking!


Take a moment to answer some questions: Would you define yourself as a bread baker? Does the smell of fresh bread often waft through your kitchen on a Sunday morning? Or, like many others (even after 9 months of time at home and with every other person Instagram posting about their perfect loaf), have you wanted to bake but never seem to find the time? Do you think it’s too hard to do - or too expensive? The truth is, if you find the right recipe you’ll never have to buy bread again: two years ago I found a simple, cheap and easy recipe for a delicious fresh wholemeal loaf by the incredible Dana Shultz, aka the Minimalist Baker, and I never buy store bought bread anymore!


You can find Dana’s recipe link below, but I have made a few suggestions on how I prep my loaf to make it using a higher ratio of whole wheat and a few other tricks to ensure it is light and fluffy. Here's Dana's link: Easy Whole Wheat Bread


Slightly amended ingredients & recipe:

*This is using metric measures, which I believe makes a better loaf, but Dana’s website also has options for US customary measurements.


We have also referenced Flourist in our ingredients, a local deli/bakery on Commercial Street, which mills its own flour. We love their ethos and the joy they have brought to many people in a tough time. Their flour is truly unbelievable, especially in this recipe.

Having said that, your local supermarket will stock whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and this will also make a delicious loaf of bread!


360 ml warm water

Extra 60ml warm water (adding as much as you need only once the dough is formed)

1 packet fast-acting yeast (1 packet yields ~3/4 Tbsp or 2 1/4 tsp)

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 tsp salt

7 g flaxseed meal

400 g Flourist Whole Grain Red Spring Flour: Whole Grain Red Spring Flour 2KG *Can use any whole wheat flour

142 g Flourist Sifted Red Spring Flour Sifted Red Spring Flour 2KG (plus more for rolling / dusting)

*Can use any all-purpose flour

14 g raw or roasted sunflower seeds

11 g rolled oats


Notes:

*Dana’s recipe calls for different ratios of whole wheat to all purpose flour. I prefer more whole wheat, so have amended the ratio of whole wheat to all purpose..

*In keeping with the ratio change for flour, my recipe above has 60ml more water than Dana's recipe.

*I don’t like a sweet bread, so I use a far smaller amount of honey than the original recipe.


Instructions:

  • Add the yeast and honey to 360ml warm water (I use warm tap water) and leave for 5 minutes.

  • Combine flours, salt and flaxseed in a large bowl and mix.

  • Add water/yeast mix to your dry mixture and start stirring them together. When you can no longer stir them, use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. As I use more whole grain flour than the original recipe, this is where I need to start to add the extra 60ml of water, little by little, until the dough all comes together (I find the dough is too dry without this extra water). In my opinion the dough can even be quite moist.

  • Once formed, take the dough out of the bowl, and grease the base of the bowl with some olive oil. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with clingfilm (or a beeswax wrap) and a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm, dry spot for 2hrs.

  • Place in the fridge for another 2hrs (if you are short on time, this bit can technically be skipped - but I wouldn’t recommend skipping it).

  • Take the dough out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to warm through.

  • Place the dough on a work surface, using flour if you need to stop the dough from sticking (I often don't need flour here) and add in your oats and seeds little by little, whilst kneading your bread. Knead your bread approximately 20 times.

  • Take your loaf dish and lightly grease it with oil, making your dough into a loaf pan shape, place it in the pan.

  • Re-cover the dough with clingfilm and a tea towel for approximately 30 minutes, leaving it in a warm place. I like to turn the oven on to 350 degrees fahrenheit and place the dough on top, as it’s a very warm spot. *This is the important part, where patience really pays off: you should wait long enough that your dough has risen over the loaf tin, to make a lighter loaf. This may be more than 30 minutes!

  • When your loaf nearly looks ready to go into the oven, turn the oven up to 425 degrees fahrenheit, add a metal tray to the bottom shelf of the oven (to heat up) and make sure you have a middle shelf ready for the loaf to go in on.

  • Whilst the oven heats up, using a sharp knife make a cup about a ½ inch deep the full length of the dough (this allows the bread to expand as it cooks).

  • When your oven is at 425 degrees F, pour a cup of water into the hot tray on the bottom shelf (watch out for the steam) and put the bread on the middle shelf, closing the oven door quickly to keep in the steam. The steam will help to make a perfect loaf!

  • Leave the loaf to bake for 30-35 minutes.

  • Once it’s cooked, it should be golden brown and when it comes out of the pan, it should make a hollow noise when you knock on the base.

  • Leave to cool for at least 25 minutes, or when you cut into the bread it may be doughy and not as light and airy as it should be.

To really enjoy this bread, and pass the time during that agonizing 25 minute wait before you can eat it, we suggest wandering to a local coffee shop near the fieldhouse on Main Street and buying an oat latte (or whatever your hot beverage of choice is) to accompany your homemade bread.


Here are some of our local favourites:

Matchstick, 4807 Main St (at 32nd Ave)

Coco et Olive, 3707 Main St

Liberty Bakery + Café, 3699 Main St


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95 E 32nd Avenue

Vancouver, BC V5V2Y1

merakosfieldhouse@gmail.com

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