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 for “Monastery bread!

  1. Mostyn Park
    March 20, 2013 at 1:35 am

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

  2. June 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Interesting! sounds as though the original recipe was like our “sourdough”… an interesting taste!

    • June 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

      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!

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