Operation Grexit has entered a new phase – a phase of packing up and saying farewell to some old friends, well-used kitchen aids and familiar cookery books. Without my ice cream machine and food processor I will have to embrace lollies (or popsicles) and find other ways to make, amongst other things, breadcrumbs and smoothies. In the process of cleaning and packing up some of the things that we are selling, I have noted that the only time this Grieve family succeeds in minimalising clutter is when they move to another country! Moving house is not sufficient reason to dispose of worn and unused items, but moving to another country seems to be enough of a motivation to get rid of stuff.
You may be under the impression that very little baking is going on in our house in Ngaoundéré, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. I have been baking, not quite as much as I would like, but I have been sticking to those much loved recipes that I can’t do without. I am lacking a little in inspiration at the moment and haven’t fully recovered from the loss of the dried apricots, almonds and pecan nuts that somebody else opportunistically acquired (think of the Apricot and Wheatgerm Loaf, Chocolate Biscotti and Apricot and Cranberry Hot Cross Buns I could be trying out!). Instead we all have to settle for Molasses Wheat Bread.
Of the wholewheat breads that I have tried, I would say that this is my favourite. I can’t really put my finger on why I prefer this loaf to the others, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that you shape the dough by twisting it before putting it in the loaf pan. I haven’t quite got the twisting technique under my belt, but it does give the bread an interesting form and I enjoyed the challenge of shaping the bread.
Molasses Wheat Bread
Sahel Family Rating: ****
Makes 1 medium (1.5 lb) loaf
240 ml warm water
30 ml molasses
60 ml milk powder
7.5 ml salt
300 ml wholewheat flour
300 ml bread or unbleached flour, approximately
11.25 ml yeast
22.5 ml butter or margarine, room temperature
Into a mixing bowl pour the water, molasses, milk powder, salt and 120 ml each wholewheat and bread or flours. Stir to form a thin batter. Sprinkle on the yeast and add the shortening, butter or margarine. With the flat beater of a stand mixer beat for 1 minute at medium speed or use 75 strokes with a wooden spoon.
Add the balance of the wholewheat flour (180 ml). Beat at high speed for 3 minutes, or 150 strokes with the spoon. Stop the mixer. Gradually work in the white flour, first with the spoon and then by hand, or with a dough hook if using a mixer, until a rough and somewhat shaggy mass is formed.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion. If the dough sticks to the work surface or your fingers, dust lightly with flour. Knead in this fashion for 8 minutes, or an equal length of time in the mixer with the dough hook.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until the dough has risen to about twice its original size, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and knead for 30 seconds to press out the bubbles that formed during rising. Roll and press under the palms so that the dough is about half again as long as the pan and shaped somewhat like a fat French baguette. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes or it will resist twisting.
Twist the dough 2 or 3 times and place in the pan.
Cover the pan with wax paper and leave at room temperature until the centre of the dough has risen about 1.5-2.5 cm above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C 20 minutes before baking.
Place the pan in the oven. When the loaf is dark brown and tapping the bottom yields a hard, hollow sound, the bread is done, about 35 to 45 minutes. If the crust is soft and gives off a dull thud, return to the oven, without the pans, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and turn the hot bread onto a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Adapted very slightly from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads