This bread has been made by hand every day at Ballymaloe House for more than 60 years – originally for the family, and then for the guests. The recipe is based on one for a nutritious loaf that Doris Grant developed at the request of the British government in the 1940s. I can't really stress enough what a favour you'll be doing your family by baking this bread. The main ingredients – wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast – are all highly nutritious. The ingredients and equipment should be at room temperature.
Makes 1 loaf
450g (1lb) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour OR 400g (14oz) strong (stoneground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz) strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black treacle
425ml (3⁄4 pint) water, at blood heat
20g (3⁄4) or more fresh non-GM
Sesame seeds (optional)
1 loaf tin 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in)
Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/ gas mark 8.
Mix the flour with the salt in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 150ml (¼ pint) and crumble in the yeast. Leave to sit for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile, grease the bread tins with sunflower oil. Check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4–5 minutes, it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.
When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (300ml/½ pint), into the flour to make a loose, wet dough. (Don't mix it until all the water is in; otherwise it tends to go lumpy.) The mixture should be too wet to knead. Put the mixture directly into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds, if you like. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming and leave the bread to rise. This will take anything from 10–20 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 230°C/ 450°F/gas mark 8.
When the dough has almost come to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves into the oven. The bread will rise a little further in the oven; this is called 'oven spring'. If the bread rises to the top of the tin before you put it into the oven, it will continue to rise and will flow over the edges. Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and cook for a further 40–50 minutes, until your bread looks nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
We usually remove the loaves from the tin/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 is no need for this
Even easier than no-knead bread.