Hemp Bread and Baking
Bread making is a recent but now important aspect of my life, a process that has been very grounding. I started making bread with spelt flour and was converted from the first loaf.
Flour is a very emotive subject for me, because in the flour we see clearly what has been and continues to be done to our food.
For some reason, flour and for that matter white sugar are bleached and processed to get them white, they are not naturally that colour. See shaman's views
In Spelt flour we see the true colour of wheat, it is a lovely light brown colour. Sometimes known as one of the original grains, being apparently amongst the other grains, found preserved in the Pyramids. The only flour's that I now use are spelt, wholemeal and unbleached white.
There are several ways to put hemp into your bread and baking:
Hemp meal: Is what you call the seeds when finely ground in a coffee or poppy seed grinder.
This grinds the outer husks so fine you hardly notice they are there, just a little crunch, leaving the succulent inner nut to melt into the product, giving a lovely creamy texture.
When you use hemp meal with white flour, you will not believe that was what you started out with it changes the colour and texture so much.
Try putting some cumin or coriander seeds in the grinder with the hemp seed as well for interesting combinations.
Hemp flour: Is the by-product after pressing the oil. Hemp seed is approximately 30% oil and 70% residue. The hard pellets or 'cake ' are then finely ground to make the flour. Added to any flour by about 15-20%, it gives a spongy nutty texture and flavour with a green hew.
Shelled hemp seed: Gives a creamy rich taste when added to in bread, baking and pastry recipes. Can be added straight to flour in most recipes, see what a difference it makes.
Hemp oil: Adds richness and gives the bread a lovely soft texture.
Basic Bread Recipe
Basic Hemp Bread
Taking the time to make your own bread is very empowering; the feelings from making it are profound. Fresh homemade bread is something everyone seams to love; it seams to stir happy memories in all. From when you smell the starter, to getting you hands in the flour, then the smell of it straight from the oven is one of the joys of life.
2 loaves at a time is very easy, a good work out. Keep enough out to use over the next 2 days then slice the remaining, it freezing well. This makes it available fresh daily straight to the toaster, or allowed it to defrost for the odd sandwich lunch.
This recipe gives quantities for hemp meal and flour if you don't have the hemp flour just add some more hemp meal.
Many bread recipes require double proving, which means you leave the dough to rise twice; I have come to believe is not necessary. Allowing the dough to double in size, once in the tins seems to work just as well. Warming the flour in the winter helps if the kitchen is not very warm.
(Gives two large loaves)
Proving time: one and a half to two hours
- 900 gram flour - Spelt or unbleached white, plus 50 grams for dusting
- 50 grams hemp flour
- 100 grams seed, finely ground to hemp meal
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 3-4 dessertspoons hemp or olive oil
- For the starter: 700 ml warm water and 3 good teaspoons each dried yeast and brown sugar
- 2 x 2 lb oiled bread tins (using light olive or sunflower oil)
- Cooking time: Pre-heated oven at 180c for 50-60 minutes or fan assisted 200c for 40 minutes
- Begin by making the starter; stir the sugar and yeast into the warm water, leave to stand for 8-10 minutes until a good froth appears on the top.
- Oil the tins.
- Mix the flours, hemp meal and salt in a bowl, make a well in the centre, drizzle around the oil, then pour in 1/3rd of the starter into the well.
- With the fingers out stretched and together to form a scoop, bring the flour in from both sides to make a batter in the well, as the well starts to look a bit dry, add another 1/3rd of the starter and repeat the process of incorporating the flour from the sides of the bowl into the centre.
- Add the remainder of the starter liquid a little more gradually, starting to scoop to the bottom of the bowl with the out stretched fingers.
Bring up the dough with the fingertips, then push down with the knuckles into the centre of the bowl, turning the bowl in a circular movement at the same time.
The dough should start to leave to side of the bowl at this point, if it is a little too wet add another dusting of flour now rather than later.
Flour is a fickle thing, sometimes requiring a little more or less water.
- Continue kneading using the finger tips and knuckles as described, bringing the bowl round in circlar movements for about 10 minutes, a good work out!
You can work the dough on a board or suitable surface; my preference is to knead it in the bowl.
You will see the texture of the dough change as the gluten does its magic. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it up into two equal loaves.
- Take each piece and knead for a moment, then press into a rectangle with the knuckles the same width as the tins.
- Roll up tightly making sure there is no air or excess flour trapped in-between. This is the main reason for holes in bread.
- Place the edge side on the bottom on the board and tuck the ends in, place in the tins and press into the corners.
- Dust their tops with flour, cover with a cloth and place them in a warm spot to prove i.e. to double in size.
Spelt makes a light dough it being low in gluten, consequently it will prove up and run over the side quite quickly in the last 15 minutes if you don't watch out, put the oven on to heat as you see the dough come to the top of the tins, so you don't get caught out.
- Place them in the oven for baking, if you have a fan assisted oven you don't need to change shelves, if not change them around after --- their cooking time.
- When cooked they should drop out of the tins, having left the sides slightly. Tap the bottom with the knuckle, if a dull thud can be heard; you know your bread is cooked. It is a distinctive sound and once you hear and recognize it, it's a handy tool.
If you feel your bread is not quite ready, put it back in the oven, out of the tins with the top of the loaf directly onto the shelf, for another 10 minutes.
The first slice is always the best, warm from the oven. Enjoy.