There’s nothing quite like good old fashioned bread if you ask me – the kind that is hearty, full of flavour and cuts into nice and thick slices. I do like white bread just like most other people but I’m also partial to whole wheat bread and multi-grain bread so I’m always game to bake them when I can (which is not too often, I must confess)
The Bread Baking Babes are baking Granary Bread this month, and I’m presenting my version of Granary Style Bread Loaf. We’re baking from a recipe chosen for us by Tanna. She was visiting her son and his family and their children’s’ nanny had a bread book with a recipe for Granary bread. Now Granary bread is an English bread made using Granary flour which is a UK brand of brown flour with malted wheat flakes that is milled by Rank Hovis Limited.
Apparently, how Granary flour is made and its composition is a closely guarded secret but this flour that has been in use for years now. The origin of Granary flour is attributed by some to the Benedictine Monks of Burton Abbey. They were supposed to have accidentally discovered, while experimenting with a method for brewing ale, that malted wheat flakes improved the flavour of their bread tremendously.
So Granary Bread is bread made from mainly white flour mixed with a proportion of wholemeal flour, malt powder and malted grains. I understand from the various sources on the net that bread made from Granary flour has a distinctive “malty” and nutty taste, and is slightly lighter than bread made with whole-meal flour. Never having heard of Granary flour or the bread until I saw this month’s recipe, I also discovered that Granary flour is not easy to come by if you live outside the UK.
Tanna who gave us the recipe did warn us that those of us who didn’t have access to Granary flour would have to get quite creative with substitution. Her exact words were “Use your imagination. Remember when you were little and made mud pies? We’re playing around here.” I joked about it with the others in the group that I would perhaps have to the most creative as I would need to look for substitutions for everything except water, yeast, salt and butter!
I live in India, and though we have a history of British colonialism and they did leave some delightful food traditions behind, they never brought Granary flour with them (not that I’m aware of anyways). Taking courage and inspiration from some of Tanna’s suggestions about getting creative with this bread, I decided to make my version of a Granary Style Bread Loaf. I used Quaker’s Oats Plus which is a mixture of oats and other grain flakes (toasted for more flavour) instead of wheat flakes, sprouted ragi flour/ teezan (fox millet flour) to replace the ‘malted’ effect, some whole wheat flour and threw in some broken/ cracked wheat for fun.
I stuck with using bread flour (again a substitute with all-purpose flour and wheat gluten) as I was baking this for the first time and didn’t want an all wheat loaf that was heavy/ dense and no one wanted to eat!
Having made the bread, I can say it’s a bread we liked. Hearty, a bit dense yet full of flavour, this is bread that’s now on “regular bread” list. It makes really good sandwiches, and stays moist for a couple of days after baking. (Adapted from King Arthur Flour).
My Version of the Granary-Style Bread Loaf
- 1 cup water lukewarm
- 1/4 cup oats rolled , toasted (I used Quaker Oats Plus-Multigrain)
- 1/4 cup wheat cracked / broken
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup finger millet flour sprouted (ragi malt/ teezan)
- 1 1/4 tsps yeast instant (1/2 tsp + 3/4 tsp)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour *
- I added 2 tsp vital wheat gluten for about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (which is what I ended up using here) as a substitute for bread flour.
- Pour the 1 cup of water into a mixing bowl. Stir in the barley malt, wheat flakes and white wheat flour. Mix in 1/2 tsp of the yeast, and cover the bowl loosely with film. The sponge will have the consistency of a very thick doughy batter which will loosen up slightly by next morning. Let this sponge sit at room temperature overnight.
- You can proceed by kneading the dough by hand or machine. As usual, I turn to my faithful food processor. The next morning, put the sponge into the bowl of the processor. Add the remaining yeast and about 1 1/4 cups of the bread flour. Mix well and then add the salt, the oil and the honey. Mix and then add enough flour and knead until you have a shaggy dough that begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until it's cohesive. Give it a rest while you clean out and lightly oil your bowl. Continue kneading for several minutes, adding only enough flour so that the dough from sticking to you or the work surface.
- Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a oiled bowl, turning it to coat it all over. Cover loosely and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about 1 1/2 hours.
- Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a log. Place it in a lightly greased 8 -1/2" x 4-1/2"- loaf pan. Cover loosely and let it rise until about 3/4th in volume. Brush the top of the loaf with some milk and sprinkle oats/ wheat flakes.
- Bake it at 190C (375F) for 30 to 40 minutes till the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.