seed & treacle bread

This is a beautiful loaf and I loved both making and eating it. It has a little sweetness from the treacle and dried fruit (the recipe calls for sultanas but I used raisins) and plenty of crunch from the mix of seeds that it contains. Those seeds are also the perfect way to add some omega oils to your diet, so you know that eating this is doing you good.

I followed Nigel Slater’s advice and ate it slathered with butter but, after two days of eating it like this, I am now looking forward to having it, still with butter, as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup. I think it will be particularly delicious with a root vegetable soup such as parsnip, or perhaps a gently spiced squash or sweet potato soup.

The dough is very wet and you don’t do any kneading – stirring with a wooden spoon is as energetic as it gets. I was a little intimidated by the need to turn it out onto the hot pizza stone but actually, this mix was easy enough to tip out (don’t try and pick it up with your hands!) and while I didn’t manage a round shape, I think the end result was good.

Nigel Slater’s Linseed and Treacle Bread (makes a medium-sized loaf)

200g rye flour

200g strong white bread flour

50g barley flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 lightly heaped tablespoons black treacle

350ml warm water

1x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast (abby note: I used 15g fresh yeast)

40g rolled oats

35g pumpkin seeds

25g sunflower seeds

30g golden linseeds

75g golden sultanas

Warm a deep, wide mixing bowl. The warmth will help your dough rise more quickly. Combine the flours and barley flakes then lightly crush the sea salt flakes in the palm of your hand and stir them in.

Put the black treacle into a jug then stir in the warm water, dissolving the treacle as you stir. Tip in the yeast, let it dissolve then pour into the flour and barley. Using a wooden spoon rather than your hands – the dough is sticky – stir in the rolled oats, pumpkin, sunflower, golden linseeds and sultanas. Mix for a full minute, so the flour, liquid, seeds and fruits are thoroughly combined. The texture of the dough should be very moist, poised between that of a bread dough and a cake mixture.

Dust the surface lightly with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or so. Any warm, draught-free spot will work. Check the bowl occasionally to make sure it is warm, but not too hot.

Get the oven hot – it will need to be at 220C/gas mark 8. If you have one, place a bread or pizza stone, generously floured (abby note: I added the flour to my pizza stone later, just before I put the dough onto it), in the oven to get hot. Failing that, a baking sheet will do. When the oven is up to temperature and the dough has risen to almost twice its original volume, transfer it to the hot baking stone or sheet, reshaping it into a round loaf as you go. Bake for 35 minutes, until the crust is lightly crisp and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Transfer the warm loaf to a cooling rack and allow to rest for a good 30 minutes before slicing. The loaf will keep, wrapped in clingfilm and foil, for 4 or 5 days.