Warm familiar scents drift softly from the oven,
And imprint forever upon our hearts
That this is home
and that we are loved.Arlene Stafford-Wilson
Do you love fresh bread? I want to share a simple but special bread recipe with you today. It’s easy to make, and produces a soft fresh loaf with a slight taste of honey, and a nice chewy not-too-hard crust. It’s a forgiving recipe too. The woman who shared it with me assured me I could substitute most kinds of flour, and swap the honey for golden syrup or molasses if I had no honey, and that the butter could also be exchanged for cream, dripping or oil. Don’t you love recipes like that!
I got this recipe 20 years ago, at a road stop by a river – the kind with a concrete picnic table, a rubbish bin and a public toilet block, near a bridge just off the main highway – the day that my elderly neighbours and I drove to pick up our new bull. Our neighbours (from whom we bought our first farm) had a truck with a cattle crate on the back, and they were keen to take me to get the bull because they didn’t travel far from home, so this would be a great adventure.
My neighbours taught me that you get out the road maps, plan your trip, work out your smoko stop and your lunch stop, and you pack your own food and a big thermos of hot tea, and another jug of cold water, and your picnic set, and a tablecloth, and then all is right in the world.
So, here we were, still half an hour away from the farm that had our new bull, sitting at a table eating an early lunch of corned beef sandwiches and chocolate cake, when another elderly couple, Essie and her husband pulled up alongside us, towing a horse float. They introduced themselves, asked if they could share the end of the big table, and brought out their own hamper.
Essie had a fresh loaf of bread in her basket, and she began cutting slices to make their sandwiches. My neighbour announced, ‘That sure smells good!’ and the next minute Essie had cut us each a slice, buttered it thickly and then spread golden syrup over the top. It was sublime!
We got to chatting, and shared our assorted food, and before we left I made sure to get the recipe for Essie’s bread.
I haven’t made it for a few years, but I found the recipe on a scrap of paper yesterday when I was unpacking my cookbooks. I usually make this by hand, but this time I chucked all the ingredients in my breadmaker, and three hours later it was done!
I hope you enjoy this recipe too. I do recommend it served fresh with lashings of butter and golden syrup, the way Essie shared it with me. Once you’ve made it a few times feel free to throw in a few additions to flavour your loaf if you’d like. It’s the sort of recipe that holds up to experimentation. And isn’t that what the joy of cooking is all about? Lots of love, Nicole xx
- 2 cups rye or wholemeal flour (bread flour is best, and you can also use a combo of 1 cup of white and 1 cup of wholemeal or rye)
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
Put the water and honey and yeast in the bottom of the pan. Add the flour, oats, salt, and butter. Use the basic bread setting. Turn out finished loaf and let sit until cool before cutting. (If you can wait that long!)
To make by hand:
- Mix yeast into the water and stir until dissolved and then add honey and stir again.
- Mix flour, oats and salt together in a large bowl.
- Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and add the butter, and then mix very well by hand.
- Grease a loaf tin with oil or butter. Place dough in the oiled tin and then cover with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes until is has risen.
- Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 35 to 40 minutes so that it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
- Remove from oven and leave in tin for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.