Nigella Lawson’s Bread

24 Jul

There is something very comforting about bread-baking. I am not sure if it is just the kneading process that makes me break into a sweat and gives a feeling of a task accomplished. It could also be that making something as fundamental as bread at home, could be so ridiculously easy, surprises me each time. People feel intimidated when they have to go about using yeast, whilst, I am comfortable handling yeast. So in order to enhance the little knowledge that I already have gained by reading the material available on the internet, I decided to gift myself, Dan Lepard’s ” The Handmade Loaf”.

He is an artisan bread maker and renowned for his almost no-knead technique of bread making. His book covers bakers from all across Northern Europe. It is fascinating to note, that there are so many different methods, ingredients (some I have never even heard of ), leavening agents to make hearty loaves. Stunning photographs of local bakers, their rustic ovens and handsome loaves make it such an interesting read. He stresses on making your own leavening agent at home. I find that part a bit intimidating and hence never got down to doing it.  So if Dan Lepard would ever read this post, I would want to apologize to him since I have dared to use the infamous Dry Active Yeast to puff up my bread. Next time, I would show more respect and buy fresh yeast from a local bakery here in Bahrain to bake my bread.

More than the recipes it is the technique of making the bread – Dan Lepard style – that holds my attention. I tried my best to incorporate his method in baking Nigella Lawson’s Simple White Loaf of bread.  The results were no doubt, spectacular.

I  have Nigella Lawson’s ” How to be a Domestic Goddess” which is another fabulous book.  Known for her non fussy comfort cooking, Nigella inspires home bakers like me.  So in this post, I shall share with you Nigella’s recipe and Dan Lepard’s  technique as simply as possible. It wasn’t possible for me to take pictures at each juncture of the bread making process but in words, I will try my best to explain how and what I did.

Recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Simple Loaf of Bread

Ingredients

31/2 cups of bread flour plus more for kneading ( I used the wholemeal organic bread flour)

1 package /1 tbsp of dry active yeast

1 tbsp salt

approximately 1 1/3 cup of warm water ( I could manage with less than cup of water. So it entirely depends on the kind of flour that you use to make the bread)

1 tbsp of unsalted butter, soften

2/3 cups of pine nuts or any other kind of nuts/seeds that you would like to incorporate

Preparation

1. Put the flour, yeast ( dissolve the 1 tbsp of dry active yeast in little warm water and let it dissolve. Let it stand for about 7-10 minutes before you add it to the bread flour mixture) , salt in a bowl and pour in about 3/4 cup of water, mixing as you do so with a wooden spoon or your hands. Be prepared to add more water as you require to convert the flour mix at hand into a mushy mess.

2. Add the butter and pine nuts and mix in.

3. Now using Dan Lepard’s method of no kneading, transfer the mushy mass on a lightly oiled, clean patch of work surface. I used a wooden cutting board. Knead for 5-10 seconds. Stop kneading before the dough absorbs the oil and sticks to the surface. Flip the dough over and leave it to rest. Cover with a cloth. Leave it for 10 minutes covered on the work surface, which is what I did. Alternately you could transfer it to a well oiled bowl and cover it.  In either case, leave the dough covered for 10 minutes.

4. Come back after 10 minutes ( which is the time , I chose to catch with “Come Dine with Me” on BBC LifeStyle) and start the kneading processes again for 5-10 secs on a well oiled work surface/wooden cutting board. You would feel that the dough is easier to work with and more resilient. I repeated this entire process of kneading for 5-10 seconds and then going away for 10 minutes 4 times. By time time, I had a very obedient mass in my hands that was ready to kept away for an hour or two to rise.  I kept it, covered in a well oiled glass bowl,  in the warmest corner of my kitchen so that the yeast could act faster.

5. After the designated time, I had the pleasure of punching the air out of the dough that had doubled it’s size.

6. Then preheat the oven for 425 F/ Gas mark 7. Knead the deflated dough for a scant few minutes and then round it into the desired shape. I pushed mine into a loaf tin pan which was generously greased. Leave it for another half hour and let it rise some more.

7. After the half hour lapses, push the loaf tin into the oven to bake for 35 minutes. I dusted mine with a little flour for the crusty loaf.

8. The way to check if the loaf is done all the way through is to lift up the loaf or remove it from its pan and knock with your knuckles on the underside; if it makes  a hollow noise, it’s cooked; if not put it back in the oven for a few minutes. When ready, remove to rack and let it cool.

It is simply divine to have your own handmade loaf with a blob of butter. The soft interior and the crusty exterior of the slice with the nuttiness of the pine nuts is all good by itself too. By using Dan Lepard’s method of repeated kneading, resulted in the crumb of loaf having an open texture. Since I used the wholemeal bread flour, it was denser in texture but absolutely delicious.

Another point to note is that the bread quality depends on the quality of the flour you use. I found a marked difference when I used organic flour to bake bread vis-a-vis the normal wholemeal bread flour. The taste and the texture was extraordinary.

On a final note, in Nigella Lawson’s own words, ” Home baked breads can look bulging and full of cracks and fissures – but that’s fine, that’s because they’re homemade”.

26 Responses to “Nigella Lawson’s Bread”

  1. a spoonful of yumm July 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    wow ! looks so delicious. nothing beats homemade :D i love bread of any kind. never made bread though

  2. yummychunklet July 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Your bread looks fantastic! I really need to try my hand at true bread making.

  3. kankana July 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    I have the same book and me too a huge fan of Nigella :) This bread came out perfect!

  4. Ankur July 25, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    Hey Anu,

    I have always wondered about how wonderful it would be to make bread at home… it looks yum… wish i can try my hands on too… :)

    Keep baking

    • Anita Menon July 25, 2011 at 9:08 am #

      Do try Ankur, its the best feeling to bake your own bread.

  5. Gayathri July 25, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Awesome Anu…..!!!! I am too apprehensive about baking bread at home..but this post is really inspiring…:)

    • Anita Menon July 25, 2011 at 8:59 am #

      Thanks Gayathri…You can borrow Nigella’s book and try out yourself.

  6. Anamika July 25, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Yes its true that the whole process of kneading can be soothing, as if venting it out. It’s just that somehow the smell of yeast puts me off!! Your looks great.

  7. Plateful July 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Oh yea, baking your own bread sounds so rustic and comforting. I actually find the very task of baking comforting, but I’ve never ventured into baking breads. Always opt for the easy way out– supermarkets. Lazy me! Your post is very inspiring and your bread looks PERFECT!

  8. Meghna July 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Wow Anita :-), this looks so awesome…. I really need to buy that can for making bread loaf now!!!!!:-)

  9. Baker Street July 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    What a gorgeous loaf anita! i love homemade bread

  10. Bikram July 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    :) hmmmmmmm i can smell it right here WOWOWOW

  11. Payal July 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    wow! i gotta try that one, looks so delicious yet healthy…

  12. anh@anhsfoodblog.com July 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Simple, great looking bread. I haven’t opened that cookbook for so long. Your post makes me miss it a little.

  13. Rosa May July 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    A splendid loaf! Yummy.

    I really love Nigella Lawson.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  14. Mother's Secret Home Recipes July 27, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    I love bread and this one looks perfect.

  15. Vardhini July 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    Bookmarking .. looks so perfect. First time to your blog and love it.

    I am having a giveaway in my blog. Do check it out when you get a chance.

    Vardhini
    Check out my 100th post giveaway

  16. Sanjeeta kk July 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Beautiful crust and lovely texture for this bread!

  17. eat little bird August 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    I also love How to be a Domestic Goddess, though I have to admit to never having tried any of the bread recipes yet … despite owning the book for about 10 years now! I have always been intimidated when it comes to using yeast, though I have become more comfortable with it recently. I love freshly baked bread and your post has really inspired me!

  18. La @ FoodSlice August 25, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    My first few attempts with yeast were a disaster, but i am better now and make pizza dough quite regularly at home. I did read Dan Lepard’s way of kneading dough recently, but haven’t yet gotten to bake a bread afterwards. This post inspires me to bake my next loaf of bread soon. Your loaf rose so perfectly, and its wholemeal, wow!!

    • Anita Menon August 27, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      Please do make bread. It is the most rewarding feeling to see your bread rise to perfection.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekend Dinner – Veg. Lasagne, Whole Meal Loaf & Tomato – Feta Salad « - August 26, 2011

    [...] presents itself as the most humbling experience. I followed the same recipe as in the post about Nigella Lawson’s bread. Only that I shaped it like a baton and made some deep gashes  atop to give it a rustic feel. The [...]

  2. Seeded Wholemeal Bread | russellskitchen - November 8, 2011

    [...] Nigella Lawson’s Bread (sliceofmylyfe.wordpress.com) Share this:ShareDiggFacebookTwitterStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

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