First, let me set your mind at ease by saying that I am not going to tell you my lactation stories, although I did nurse both daughters until they were 13 months old. Nor will there be a single photo of anyone’s breastal region, although I firmly back your right to bare yours if you are feeding your baby, even in public. (Oh, the strange and wonderful places that I have bared mine for the cause... but I promised.)
The name of this bread recipe comes from its creator, one Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the highly successful Leon restaurants and food writer for the Guardian, who wanted to use up a packet of spices given to him to make an infusion for his wife, supposedly to stimulate her milk production, just after she had given birth. He made the hot drink, tasted it and decided that his wife had suffered enough. So he used the rest of the spices to bake bread, which seemed to have the desired effect in a much more appetizing package. He assures his readers, so I duly assure you on his behalf, that it works only on lactating women; the rest of us can enjoy it for the taste.
This month Bread Bakers is hosted by Robin of A Shaggy Dough Story, who challenged us all to make bread using only ancient grains, defined loosely as grains that have remained largely unchanged/un-hybridized over the last several hundred years, which means NO MODERN WHEAT. Some examples include spelt, quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, teff, freekeh, chia seeds, farro, kamut and einkorn. I already had a bag of spelt flour hanging out in my freezer from before I made these super fudgy brownies, so that’s where I started my recipe search. Many thanks to Robin for this most excellent challenge! If you haven't read A Shaggy Dough Story, do head over there. Robin is an over-achiever that grinds her own flour, bakes gorgeous loaves and takes beautiful photographs, but I love her most because of her fabulous sense of humor.
Mr. Dimbleby’s recipe makes three loaves so I have adapted the ingredients for only one deliciously nutty spelt loaf. Check out the original, if you’d like three on hand. He says they freeze well in freezer bags.
Soft butter, for greasing your loaf pan
For the bread dough:
1 teaspoon aniseed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek
4 1/8 cups or 500g strong wholemeal spelt flour
7g fast-acting dried yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise.)
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (Use less if yours is fine grain.)
1/4 cup or 50g pine nuts of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
1/4 cup or 50g pumpkin seeds of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
1/4 cup or 50g sunflower seeds of which: 1 tablespoon set aside
3 tablespoons or 45ml extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups or 350ml warm water
For the egg wash:
1 tablespoon of each of the pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, set aside from the original amounts for the dough.
Grease your bread pan generously with softened butter and set aside, along with your one tablespoon of each pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for decorating.
Grind your spices with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Mix all of your dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a bowl large enough to knead the dough in.
Add in the oil and mix well.
Add in the warm water and mix again.
Knead with your bread hook or by hand in your bowl for just a few minutes, until smooth. Mr. Dimbleby says you can add more flour if necessary but “wetter is better.” I was using my bread hook so I just kept going. The dough was very slack and it would have been very sticky to knead by hand, so do what you need to, if you don’t have a machine.
Scrape the dough out of the bowl and use damp hands to shape it into a loaf and pop it into your buttered loaf pan.
Whisk the egg with a splash of water to create an egg wash.
Cut some slashes into the top of the dough and then brush it with your egg wash.
Sprinkle on the reserved seeds and nuts, tapping them down gently so they stick.
Place in a large plastic bag in warm place and leave to rise until doubled. When my kitchen is cold, as it is this time of year, I like to partially fill one basin of my sink with hot tap water (about halfway up the loaf pan) and place the loaf pan in the water, covering the whole basin with a large cutting board and “sealing” the gaps with multiple dishcloths. Behold!
When your dough is nearly ready, preheat your oven to 450°F or 220°C.
Bake the bread for the first 20 minutes at that temperature, then turn the oven down to 400°F or 200°C for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cover with foil if your toppings look like they might begin to scorch.
Turn out to cool on a wire rack.
Do you like to bake using ancient grains? Hope we inspire you to try if you haven't before. And give you a few new ideas if you are already a fan. Here's what our creative bakers came up with.
- Ancient 4 Grain Breakfast Bread from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
- Ancient Grain Carrot Bread from The Schizo Chef
- Barley Flour Donut Muffins from I Camp in my Kitchen
- Blueberry Peach Quinoa Oatmeal Muffins from Magnolia Days
- Buckwheat Savoury Pancakes from Mayuri's Jikoni
- Dimbleby's Breastfeeding Bread from Food Lust People Love
- Eggless Sorghum and Pearl Millet Banana Muffins (Eggless Jowar and Bajra Banana Muffins) from G'Gina's Kitchenette
- Foxtail Millet Bagels from Cooking Club
- Garlic Cheesy Einkorn Crackers from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Injera Bread from Spiceroots
- Little Millet Banana Bread from Sara's Tasty Buds
- Millet Idli from Gayathri's Cook Spot
- Multigrain Seeded Loaf from What Smells So Good?
- Quinoa Banana Bread from Wholistic Woman
- Seeded Spelt Boules from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Spelt and Buckwheat Soda Bread from A Shaggy Dough Story
- Spelt and Einkorn Sourdough with Caramelized Onions from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Spelt Bread from Hostess at Heart
- Spelt Sweet Potato Paratha from Cook's Hideout
- Teff Crepes with Spinach and Mushrooms from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Yeasted Jowar Naan from Sneha's Recipe
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.