You may have guessed it by now, but in case it wasn’t clear I will let you in on the secret: I love to cook. For most of my adult years I have been cooking my own food, which brings great joy to me. However, when I moved to Eddington, I thought I would love to share this joy with other people and as a bonus get to know my neighbours. So in April 2019 I started the Eddington Eats community restaurant. Little did I know that cooking for groups of people is a completely different experience than cooking for myself.
Over the months I learned a lot about how to balance time management, grocery cost and the number of volunteers and eaters, with the complexity of the recipes we could make in Storey’s Field Centre’s tiny (but very well equipped!) kitchen. I want to thank everyone who participated in these events, Storey’s Field Centre for the continuous support, my volunteers for putting up with the pre-dinner chaos and the after-dinner dishes, the city council for the funding to get started, and most importantly all of the guests, who has made this learning experience extremely wonderful!
As we have all moved into self-isolation and working from home, we may have some more time on our hands to experiment in the kitchen. Which is what I did over the past weeks: making my own bread! Bread-making has always been something I have wanted to incorporate into my daily life, however, here’s another secret: baking intimidates me. I experimented one year as a student with making my own sourdough bread. Making the sourdough starter was easy, but after that the learning curve was steep. To maintain and use the sourdough starter I needed to optimise the conditions, as different room temperature, humidity or flour quality will affect the quantities of water, flour, fermentation time etc. you need. This resulted in the baking of a lot of mediocre breads and my motivation dissipated. In hindsight I should have started somewhere simpler to get the hang of basic bread baking in the first place...
So recently, when I found myself with time on my hands, I browsed one of my favourite recipe blogs budgetbytes.com and I found a no-knead bread recipe. Yes, no kneading involved! The simplicity of the recipe made me very excited to try it. The bread only requires you to put the ingredients together, let it sit for a long fermentation and then bake!
Beth, the author of BudgetBytes, has two versions of the no-knead bread on her website which I have tried and for the recipes I will refer you to her website. There is the regular no-knead bread that is made with all white flour and is absolutely delicious:
And then there is the seeded loaf, that used part whole-wheat flour and seeds such as flax and chia to create a different texture.
I particularly like Beth’s website, as all recipes come with step-by-step pictures, so you can always compare your step to hers and see if the result looks like it should. In that vein I decided I will share with you my experience making her no-knead seeded loaf, through some pictures. If you try to make bread at home the coming weeks, I would love to know how it goes. Please share a picture or tell about you experience in the weekly Eddington Cookbook discussion thread or tag @Eddington_ra on Instagram and Twitter. Happy baking!
For the seed mixture I added rolled oats, chia seeds and flax seeds following the recipe, but substituted hemp for quinoa and let that soak for an hour, which is what you see here.
Here are all the ingredients ready to be mixed in a bowl. For my bread I use, Sainsbury’s all purpose flour, whole-wheat bread flour and dry-active yeast.
After mixing everything together it looked like this. I left the dough in the bowl and placed a damp tea towel and a plate on top of it, to prevent the dough from drying out.
I left my dough to ferment for 14 hours, after which it looked like this. It had lots of air bubbels and had risen up quite a bit.
As I don’t have a Dutch oven, I preheated an oven dish and an oven-safe metal pot in the oven at 220˚C. after placing the bread in the (hot!) oven dish I scored the top with a bread knife. This creates a place for the steam to escape while baking (and prevent your bread from looking like it randomly exploded on the side). Then I placed the oven dish on a solid rack and place the pot over top. The goal is to trap the heat and steam inside for the first half hour of baking to get a crunchy, rustic-looking crust. If you don’t have any of these things, you might try putting two oven dishes on top of each other. Another way to create steam in the oven is to place an oven tray with water on the bottom of the oven, although you may not get the same level of rise. As Beth explains on her website you can also bake the bread on a rack, but you won’t get the same crust.
After 30 minutes of covered baking, I removed the pot for 10 minutes to let the bread brown. Tada! Here’s the result.
It is super moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside! A great reward with minimal effort.
Lis (that's me) is the organiser of the monthly Eddington Eats community restaurant at Storey’s Field Centre and has lived in Eddington for 1 year and 3 months.