Sunday, February 26, 2006


No, I don't mean money. I decided to make bread this weekend. I was looking through the book All the King's Cooks, The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace by Peter Brears and decided to try his Cheat Bread recipe. Cheat bread is the brown bread the servants and staff would have eaten. It is made with whole wheat flour, and in Henry VIII's time, the bran separated from the finer whiter flour would have also been added. The recipe is just whole wheat flour, water, salt and yeast, so I expected a fairly dense loaf of bread.

Cheat bread was traditionally made with sourdough leavening. To modernize the process a bit, a sponge is made the day before. The sponge is half the flour, most if not all of the water and half the yeast mixed together and left overnight. Because the recipe is in weights I got to use my new kitchen scale. I measured the flour and divided it in half, and then the yeast and divided that as well.

I then mixed 2 cups of warm water into half the flour and yeast. I didn't add the salt into the sponge because salt inhibits the yeast and I wanted things to ferment overnight. The mixture is a very wet mixture. I then covered the bowl and put it into the oven with the light on. This makes a nice warm draft free spot. After leaving this to stand overnight, the sponge looks, well, spongy.

I then dumped the whole thing into my stand mixer and slowly added the remaining flour, yeast, and the salt. I have learned the hard way, if you have had carpal tunnel, don't knead bread dough; let the machine do it. So I do. After about 10 minutes of kneading, I got a wonderful lump of dough.

Because this recipe has no fat, I put a thin layer of oil over the dough with a paper towel so the dough wouldn't form a dry 'skin' while rising.

After the first rise, I punched down the dough and shaped them for the pans. I decided to use a round terra cotta dish I got at Hampton Court Palace and a stoneware loaf pan from Pampered Chef.

These lovely loaves were then left to rise again for an hour and a half. Then baked for 30 minutes at about 375 F. The end result being:

After they cooled for an hour or so, I sliced the loaf to see how dense it was. It seems to have turned out a rather nice, just slightly dense loaf of whole wheat bread. I was afraid the 2 teaspoons of salt in the recipe would have left it a bit salty, but I cannot detect it. It will be terrific with some sharp cheddar cheese.


Blogger Susan said...

The bread looks beautiful! I wonder if you could use a bread machine to knead it as well.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl Hatchell said...

Can't try it this weekend, but it sounds great. Maybe Easter weekend I'll be able to give it try.

9:02 AM  

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