Sunday, 14 February 2016

Cinnamon raisin spelt bread and Mercer's preserves

So if you find yourself at the BBC Good Food Spring Show (hard to say after an afternoon on the gin) in Harrogate this April one of the lovely stalls will be run by the good people of Mercer's of Yorkshire. A Yorkshire based company run by a husband and wife, they sell a lovely selection of preserves and sauces. Having been sampling their delectable lemon curd and onion marmalade (not necessarily together) this month, I can confirm that they are definitely worth checking out.

I was particularly taken with the lemon curd which is a real favourite of mine but one of those things that I never bother to make myself because other people do it so well. When we were kids, my brother wouldn't eat "jam with bits" - i.e. pretty much all jam - so we tended to get through a lot of lemon curd (and seedless raspberry which to my mind now is something of a travesty). Standard Saturday breakfast was baguette slathered with butter and curd and very lovely it was too.

Given my recently discovered mania for bread making, I decided to bake a loaf which would work with both of these products. Spelt flour is slightly harder to work with than the standard stuff but it yields a gorgeous, nutty tasting loaf with a slightly cakey texture that toasts well. I would recommend spreading thickly with soft goats' cheese before dolloping on the onion marmalade - the cinnamon and raisin combo really complements the salt / sweet / sour flavour profile. Equally, just spread thickly with curd and perhaps a little creme fraiche, it is utterly delectable.


250g wholemeal spelt flour (if you can't find it in your local supermarket, Holland and Barratt or similar health food stores stock it)
Tsp salt
Tsp fast acting yeast
Tsp sugar
Tsp ground cinnamon
30g raisins
Tbsp vegetable oil (I like rapeseed)
200ml cool water (you may not use all of it)

This is a sticky dough, so best made in a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. If you make it by hand, prepare to get messy.

Tip your flour, raisins, cinnamon and sugar into the mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side of the mixture and the yeast to the other so they're not touching. I don't know the specific reason for this, but Paul "Silver Fox" Hollywood tells me that never the twain shall meet and I believe him.

Set the mixer on to its lowest setting and pour in the oil and then gradually add the water. You'll need somewhere between 150ml and the free amount - enough for the mixture to come together in a shaggy dough. Once it has formed a rough ball, ratchet up the mixer and let it do its thang for about 5 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky, but elastic.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and prove for an hour.

Grease or line a loaf tin and tip in the proved dough. Give it a second prove for twenty five minutes. It's obviously working on a very hard theorem. While this second prove is going ahead, preheat the oven to 200.

Bake for around 30 mins, or until the internal temperature has reached around 200 degrees. Allow to cool slightly before falling on it armed with butter knife and topping of choice.

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