We were fast running out of bread but at 4pm it was much too cold to go to the shops. So I turned to Doris with a little help from Titli. Thank heavens for the Doris Grant ‘no knead’ loaf. It works.
Doris Grant was a Scottish housewife and campaigner against ‘improved’ white flour and sugar (well ahead of her time) who devised a way of baking bread in the Thirties in half the time without the bother of kneading – and reckoned it tasted better than when made the normal way.
The story goes that one day she forgot to knead her wholemeal loaf and when it had baked found it didn’t really mater.
Now I love baking but when I do it I have to hang around the house all day while I mix, knead, prove, knock back, shape, leave to prove again and finally bake. I’d heard of Doris dimly and tried to make a loaf before with very cake-like results.
But it was worth another bash and because it is always better to see it being done rather than read it I turned to YouTube, which is where I met Titli Nihaan, a no-nonsense Brummie matron on her Bread Kitchen channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/TitliNihaan
Now the Grant Loaf is wholemeal but although it is good for you it is just a bit too much like bran and sandals for me. Titli is sniffy about a white Grant loaf, comparing it to supermarket bread, but I have been successfully using strong white flour and replacing around 150-200g with, successively, wholemeal, spelt or oat flour (whizz up some porridge flakes in the blender for this).
All you do is mix 450g of bread flour with a large teaspoon of salt. Dissolve 7g of dried yeast and a teaspoon of brown sugar (white or honey is OK) in 385g (13 fl oz) of warm water and wait until frothy. Then stir liquid into flour using a wooden spoon.
When well mixed pour the whole sticky lot (not that easy!) into a greased loaf tin (about 8 by 4 ins), press down, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise to the top of the pan, which takes about an hour. Heat your oven to 180 fan, 200C and bake for about 35 minutes.
It is a moist loaf with quite a bubbly crumb and cuts well and there is plenty of scope for experimenting with different proportions of flour. It’s not at all cakey but does take longer to toast than ‘commercial’ bread. But better than a kneaded loaf? As Titli says: “Considering the amount of effort you haven’t put into making the loaf, it’s not bad.”
Doris Grant died, aged 98, in 2003, a testament to her own dietary regime which is well worth checking out if you have the time. Titli’s video takes just 2 min 47 secs, time very well spent.