An everyday loaf doesn’t have to be boringly everyday. Many specialist loaves don’t take much longer (some no longer) than a simple white flour and fast action yeast loaf. Sometimes it’s fun to switch up a loaf by the way it looks; slashing patterns or making plaits. However, add or change up the flour and the loaf takes on new flavours, crumb structure and texture with little effort. One easy way in to exploring different wheats is to start with a maslin loaf…

A modern maslin loaf is bread that is roughly 50% wheat flour and 50% of another type of grain, typically rye or spelt. It’s medieval in origin, as the mix of grains used was basically to encompass what people could scrabble to get their hands on at the time: wheat, barley, rye or spelt. Don’t be fooled though, you’re not recreating use of roughly milled medieval flours: modern flours will give you a very soft crumb.

However, should you want to get close to a medieval experience as possible (without the teeth-breaking bad milling) you can easily buy heritage flours. See the Heritage Grain Trust and in particular John Lett’s Lammas Fayre flours, which can be bought from Bakery Bits.

My particular maslin loaf marries the soft white white with a wholemeal spelt. It produces a light, airy but uniform crumb with a lovely taste and texture. The addition of the seeded top gives added taste, texture and of course all the nutritional benefits that seeds can provide.

Notes

My seed mix was a 50:50 mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • 2lb Oblong bread tin (roughly 21cm x 14cm)
  • Clean cloth/tea towel
  • Oven proof tin (any size)
  • Bread scraper

Ingredients

  • 180g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 220g strong white bread flour
  • 275g water
  • 1/4 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 3-4g fresh cracked pepper
  • 20g runny honey
  • 75-100g of mixed seeds
  • a little oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the two flours, the water, citric acid, yeast and honey, leaving it as a rough mess (this mixing is easier with a Dutch whisk or robust fork)
  2. Leave for 10 – 20 minutes
  3. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface
  4. Now sprinkle over the salt and use about 5-6 twists of a peppermill
  5. Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth
  6. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough in, cover with a clear cloth and rest for around an hour. The dough won’t ‘double in size’ as is often cited, but will get about 50% bigger
  7. When ready, tip out the flour onto a very lightly floured surface and knock back (this is press the large air pockets out of the dough)
  8. Fold the dough over itself several times and shape into a soft rectangle, using the tin as a guide, it needs to be about 3/4 size of the tin
  9. Flour the bottom of the tin
  10. Spread the seeds out over your work surface and lightly dampen the surface and sides of your dough with a little water (you can do this with a spray or your hands)
  11. Roll the dough (gently!) in the seeds:
  1. Place the dough into the tin with the seeded top facing upwards. If there are gaps, press in some more seeds
  1. Cover the tin with a cloth and leave for its second rise, which will be about 40-50 minutes
  2. Before the bread is ready, turn your oven on to heat up to 215 C for a fan oven, or 225 C for a conventional oven. Place an ovenproof tin in the bottom of the oven
  3. When the bread is ready, place in the middle of the oven and tip a cup of water into the ovenproof tin you placed in earlier
  4. Bake for 30 minutes
  5. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully, to ensure the bottom doesn’t go soggy
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