Of all the breads in this chapter, this is my favourite. It is simple, wholesome and quick to make. Be careful not to over-mix the dough. Unlike other breads, which require kneading to make them lighter, this dough requires as little handling as possible for a light texture. Don’t be alarmed if, a few hours after baking, you notice that any of the pine nuts or sunflower seeds in the bread have turned bright green. This is caused by a reaction between the anti-oxidants in the seeds and the bicarbonate of soda and it is nothing to worry about.
What you need:
– One flat baking sheet, at least 23cm (9 inches) wide
– 225g / 8oz plain flour * (2 cups)
– 10ml / 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda *
– 5ml / 1 tsp salt
– 225g / 8oz malted granary or whole wheat flour * (2 cups)
– 30g / 1oz soft butter (2 Tbsp) and a little extra butter for greasing the baking sheet
– 375ml / 1½ cups milk
– 125ml / ½ cup plain yoghurt
– 30ml / 2 Tbsp barley malt extract *
– 15ml / 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
– 15ml / 1 Tbsp linseed *
What you do:
Makes 1 round loaf, approximately 23cm (9 inches) in diameter
Preheat the oven to 200ºC / 400ºF.
Rub a little butter onto the baking sheet.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the largest mixing bowl that you have, tip in any whole grains that don’t go through the sieve.
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips.
Whisk together the milk, yoghurt and malt extract. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the milk mixture; reserving a little to add in later if needed.
Working as quickly and lightly as possible with a round-bladed knife, mix the dough and then bring it together into one ball with your hands; it will be soft and still slightly sticky. Tip it onto a lightly floured surface and, without kneading it, shape it into a round of about 20cm (8 inches) in diameter and about 3 – 4cm (1¼ – 1½ inches) thick. The less the dough is handled, the lighter the bread will be.
Lift the bread onto the baking sheet, re-shaping if necessary. Cut a deep cross in the top and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the bread is golden. To check if it is cooked, tap it on the bottom – it will sound hollow when ready. Cool on a wire rack.
For a crisp crust, leave the bread uncovered. For a soft crust, rub a little butter onto the crust as soon as the bread comes out of the oven then wrap the bread in some baking parchment paper and then in a slightly damp tea-towel.
This is best served very fresh from the oven, while it is still warm. Traditionally, it is broken into quarters and then sliced. It also makes very good toast on day two!
Add a handful of chopped fresh herbs of your choice: parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary and sage all work well.
For a sweet bread, add a handful of chopped plump dried figs or dates and a few pecans. Sprinkle the top with a little cinnamon sugar instead of seeds.
Enjoy the picnic! If you’re craving more royal recipes, there are 100 more delicious dishes created by Robb, in her new cookbook: The Royal Touch: Simply Stunning Home Cooking From A Royal Chef. And if you’d like your very own copy, ACC Art Books is offering Urban Suburban Mommy’s readers a 35% discount, just use promo code: ROYAL to save on your order!
Carolyn Robb was Personal Chef to TRH Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry for ten years.