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Monastery bread!

As you can probably imagine, once I saw a recipe called ‘monastery bread’ it was only ever going to be a matter of time before I made it.

The River Cottage bread book is my favourite dough-related cookbook. It’s compact and simple yet has a great combination of techniques, tips and ideas.

Monastery bread is a heavy brown loaf beefed up in texture by handfuls of rolled oats and in taste by adding a piece of old dough to the mix. Sadly I forgot the latter, and since I made the bread while on holiday I didn’t have pure rolled oats for the former. Instead I used handfuls of a ready mixed porridge and seed combo, so that my bread had a bit more diversity in the “pips” department than the River Cottage puritans suggested. I also spiced it up by using the fat left from boiling a big ham and making meatloaf a couple of days earlier.

The dough for this was an unforgiving knead. Oats and brown flour are a lot less malleable than white flour, and although I’d added fat, there was never much elasticity in the mix. However it proved well, into a smooth oval shape, and baked evenly too.

They say (and they’re right) that hot bread doesn’t slice well, but I can never resist. With a warm loaf, some home-baked ham, poacher’s pickle, Westcombe cheddar and a nice glass of red, it was a very nice evening in front of the fire. Not very monastic though!

Ingredients (my version)

  • 500 g strong wholemeal flour
  • 7 g dried yeast
  • 300 ml warm water
  • 3 handfuls rolled oats and random pips (sesame, flax, sunflower & goodness knows what else)
  • 1 tbspn honey
  • 1 tbspn melted retained fat from home-made meatloaf and ham
  • 5 g crushed sea salt
  • 1 handful rye flour

Method: Mix dry goods together (except rye flour). Dissolve the honey into the water. Add the melted fat to the dry mix. Add water until a good kneading consistency is obtained. Knead. Prove x2. Shape for baking, coat in rye flour and prove again. Bake in a hot, moist oven at 250 degrees for the first 10 mins and then reduce the heat to around 200 degrees for a further 20-25 mins. Makes one large loaf.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mostyn Park #

    Nice recipe – and I like your blog very much. Lucky church (whichever, and whatever…quite frankly!) to have you.

    March 20, 2013
  2. Interesting! sounds as though the original recipe was like our “sourdough”… an interesting taste!

    June 4, 2013
    • Yeh, it’s got a really full texture, though perhaps not quite such a nice tang. I love sourdough… maybe time I got a sourdough starter going and did some baking!

      June 4, 2013

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