Fact: I can’t buy bread from the market anymore. Specifically, I can’t buy bread from the bread aisle. If it’s from the bakery section of the market, that’s ok. But manufactured bread? I just can’t! Even the smell of the bread aisle has become unappealing to me.
I’ve been making my own bread fairly consistently for the last four years. Manufactured bread just doesn’t measure up in fragrance and flavor. I used to post about my bread attempts but eventually stopped because I only make the same two recipes nowadays. First and foremost is a spelt version of Richard Bertinet’s basic bread recipe. I’m very capable of making this. I don’t even need the recipe on hand anymore. Mix four ingredients together, work the dough for about 10 minutes, let it rest and rise until doubled in volume, shape, let rise again, and bake. Simple.
I am still bad at shaping this dough, but that’s another story.
The second bread recipe I use a lot is a white batter bread from Bread Made Easy by Beth Hensperger. What makes a batter bread recipe different from a basic bread recipe?
Laziness Time. A batter bread is just that – you mix everything into a batter. There’s no kneading. There’s no working the dough for 10 minutes. You just mix it until it’s a shaggy thing (like dough with a bad hair day? or like oatmeal gone very wrong?), plop it in a loaf pan, let it rise just the one time, and then bake.
Batter breads lack complex flavor without help. Basic bread recipes can attribute part of its flavor from the double rise. I’ve read that three or four rises total taste even better, but who has the time for that? Beth Hensperger’s version adds a touch of ground ginger which is deliciously amazing and you might not know it was there if you hadn’t been told.
But… I only like it in the white bread version. I’ve tried making a whole wheat version, a spelt version, and a spelt version without ginger. The variations didn’t satisfy me much.
There is a batter bread in the book called Frederiksgard Lunch Bread. It is a dense concoction. It’s made from spelt flour, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. It’s tasty but I can’t eat more than a slice at a time because there’s so much going on. It’s a very unsatisfactory bread to use with peanut butter, nut butter, or Nutella because it’s not plain enough.
But Risgaard’s batter bread has something going for it that the Hensperger batter bread does not: plain yogurt. The Hensperger batter bread relies on evaporated milk, and I only keep a can around if I suspect that I’m going to make it. Yogurt is something that I’m more likely to buy on a regular basis just to eat.
So, I packed my leftover “lunch bread” for the freezer and worked on changing Risgaard’s recipe to suit my needs (Nutella, I’m coming for you). I made this on Monday night at 8pm, and still got to bed on time (yes, I go to bed at midnight – this is normal for me).
Some comments on the below recipe: you don’t have to use part bread flour and part spelt flour. You can use whole wheat instead of spelt. Or, feel free to just use all-purpose flour if you need to. I keep a lot of spelt flour in my pantry because I hate whole wheat flour; and I have concluded that a bit of bread flour mixed in is easier to work with than 100% spelt. You can use whatever oil you have on hand. The original recipe says olive oil, but I’ve been experimenting with untoasted sesame oil lately. How can you tell if your sesame oil is toasted or untoasted? Is it brown? Then it is toasted. If it’s pale like any other oil, then it’s untoasted. Easy, right? I wouldn’t use *toasted* sesame oil for this recipe. It would be sesame overkill. Untoasted sesame oil is much milder and can be used as an everyday oil. The original recipe uses milk instead of water, but since there is already plain yogurt, I don’t think that the milk makes much difference. The yogurt gives a gentle sourness to the bread. I can’t imagine the milk doing much in terms of flavor.
An Everyday Batter Bread
adapted from Home Baked by Hanne Risgaard
100g bread flour
400g spelt flour
10g instant yeast (like Saf Instant or Fleischmann’s bread machine yeast)
275g plain yogurt
275g warm water (more or less)
Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
Whisk all the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients. Mix until the dough is fully combined and looking shaggy. Spoon the dough into the loaf pan, and then smooth the top. Cover this with a clean damp towel, or place in a clean plastic bag. Let this rise for about an hour; it should almost reach the height of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 475F, with a small pan of hot water inside the oven. The hot water pan is to increase the humidity of the oven. Bake at 475F for 5-6 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 410F for about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway if you think it’s baking unevenly.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before taking the bread loaf out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.
Or, serve it with some Nutella spread on. It’s one of my favorite after dinner treats if I’m still hankering for a little bit of something.
EDIT: Here’s the link for the Hensperger batter bread recipe. This is probably the one instance where I say ignore the ratings on Epicurious.