In a burst of inspiration fuelled by procrastination, I decided to get out the bread maker. Our bread maker is a bit of a relic – it was passed down to us when I was a kid, from my aunt who never used it. I remember loving it at the time, but the last time I remember using it was when I was 12. I am currently 23. Time for a revival, I decided!
Every so often I like to have fruit toast for breakfast, so I challenged myself to make a fruit loaf that’s customised to my own tastes, i.e. an extra-grainy/seedy/fruity fruit loaf without nuts or sunflower seeds (nothing against them nutritionally, just not a huge fan of the taste, and for some reason sunflower seeds seem to be the seed of choice when people want to make healthier fruit loaves).
One minor problem – towards the end of the program, the bread maker decided to give up on life, causing the power to go out in the rest of the house. I ended up leaving it there for a few hours and then baking in the oven. Let’s just say it was an abject failure. Even when the bread maker was working I had doubts about the likelihood of success.
A few days later, I figured, “Well, I still have ingredients, and I still like fruit toast, so let’s give it a go”. So behold my attempt at making bread the old-fashioned way. It wasn’t the most successful.
I ended up looking at Taste.com.au for ideas, and modified a recipe for “Homemade Fruit Loaf”. I’d love it if I could find some kind of basic multigrain mix and just add that to a fruit loaf recipe, but of course life can’t be that easy and I am limited by what I can find in my local supermarket. I ended up putting in apricots, sultanas, oats and linseeds/flaxseeds (did not realise they were the same thing until I was googling it in the middle of a supermarket aisle!).
Wholegrains are the bomb
The Australian Dietary Guidelines (the big long 200+ page version) states that in the past 10 years, “The evidence for the association of grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and excess weight gain has strengthened.” The guidelines also highlight recent evidence suggesting an association between eating wholegrains (1-3 serves/day) and cereals high in fibre with lower risk of colorectal cancer.
I have previously talked about oats* and different dried fruits, so take a look back if you haven’t already. Stay tuned for more info about flax – I have a few ideas for the rest of the giant bag I ended up buying surprisingly cheaply. #winning
*Another note on oats/β-glucan that I didn’t mention last time, from the Aus Dietary Guidelines: “Oat ß-glucan binds with bile acids, so the liver breaks down more cholesterol to maintain a supply of bile acids” – in case you were wondering about how oats work to lower cholesterol.
What difference did it make?
Had it worked out, my fruit loaf would have been 3.9g higher in fibre per slice than the original recipe (I cut 13 slices out of my loaf). Check out the nutritional info below.
The recipe – Apricot, linseed and oat fruit loaf
Note that this didn’t really work, so try at your own risk. See “What went wrong?” below for some ideas on how to make it better.
- 2 tsp (7g) dried yeast
- 60mL (1/4 cup) milk, warmed
- 310mL milk and/or water*
- 1/3 cup flax seeds (linseeds)
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 450g (3 cups) plain flour (I used 300g wholemeal and 150g white)**
- 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 170g dried apricots, chopped
- 50g sultanas
Use a fork to whisk together the yeast, 60ml milk and 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl; cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy.
- Combine linseeds and remaining milk/water; stand.
- Sift together flour, mixed spice, remaining sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir through oats. Make a well in the centre.
- Add the yeast mixture and linseed mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix until dough comes together.
- Transfer dough onto a clean, floured work surface. Knead for 8 minutes or until smooth.
- Transfer to a lightly greased bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm spot for 1-1 1/2 hours or until doubled.
- Flatten the dough on your work surface, sprinkle over the fruit. Knead until combined. Shape the dough into a log.
- Spray a 10 x 20cm loaf pan with oil. Place the log into prepared pan. Cover and set aside for 45 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
- Preheat oven to 220oC and bake loaf for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 180oC and bake for a further 25-35 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Set aside to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
*I used approx 180mL water and 130mL milk – the milk is supposed to make it richer, so you can try it however you like.
**I decided not to use strong bread flour because I figured I was unlikely to use it often enough to justify buying it, though it may have resulted in a better-quality product.
Everything was looking really good until the last hurdle – baking. It didn’t rise like it should have in the oven, which caused it to turn out a bit heavy and dense. Even after 20 extra minutes baking compared to the original recipe, I’m not sure that it cooked properly. That being said, it was still much better than the last attempt!
There’s something satisfying about making bread from scratch – coming back to it every so often to see that it’s risen is kind of exciting! It’s also calming/a good workout/frustration-buster to knead dough. That being said, the finished product wasn’t really worth the effort. Apart from the texture/look not quite being right, I didn’t really like the taste that much. It just seemed to lack… something.
What went wrong?
The table below shows the ridiculous number of things that could go wrong with bread-making. I have highlighted a few that might have happened to me.
In conclusion, I have no idea. Bread-making is hard! I think I’ll leave it to the pros in future, put up with my mild dislike of sunflower seeds and just buy something.
At least I succeeded in doing some solid procrastinating…