Bread, glorious bread.

For me, living without bread has to be one of the most difficult parts about being gluten-free. Sure there are lots of great alternatives (and I keep experimenting in hope!) but I’ve never found anything that quite matches the taste and delicious aroma of fresh bread.

Sandwiches are a rarity in our house because of Harry’s reactions, but on the odd occasion that they do get to eat bread, I want to make sure that it is fresh, preservative free and filling. So here is my recipe for wholemeal, multi-grain bread. It is adapted from the simple white loaf that I saw made on an episode of River Cottage. You can check out the original in full here:

  •  1kg wholemeal flour
  •  10g fast-action yeast
  •  15g fine salt
  •  2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to oil the dough
  •  700ml warm water
  • 1tbsp each of chia, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil, then add the water. Then add the seeds. Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky at this stage – if it isn’t, add a splash more water

Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself. The idea is to stretch and develop the gluten within the dough, not to beat the living daylights out of it. Avoid adding more flour if you can: the dough will become less sticky and easier to handle as you knead. According to Hugh (and also in my experience) – a wetter dough is generally a better dough.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with glad wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – around 1.5 hours.

Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Split the dough into 2 halves and reshape it into approximate loaf shapes, then put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 250C. Put a baking tray in to heat up.

When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190C and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Because there are no preservatives in this bread the loaves are best eaten with a couple of days. But it does freeze beautifully. So if like us, there is no way you’d eat 2 loaves of bread within this time, slice it all, wrap it tightly in glad wrap, then place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. You don’t need to slice before freezing, but it does make it a lot easier to get out just one or two slices at a time.

Peter and our boys really enjoy this bread … even though the little ones do occasionally still ask me for ‘square bread’ 😀

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