A quiet day today. Sporadic email traffic and a sense of quiet satisfaction at having dealt with everything in my in-tray and given the dog a good walk. So, time in the kitchen with no sense of guilt that I should be out earning a crust but having the time to bake one instead.
One of the joys of living in Cumbria is proximity to the Old Watermill at Little Salkeld (www.organicmill.co.uk) ; a working flour mill which has a great tearoom and produces a range of excellent flours. Driving over to a meeting in Gateshead via the back-roads a couple of weeks ago, I called in at the Co-op in Lazonby and was pleased to see a shelf full of Old Watermill products. I picked up a couple of bags of Miller's Magic and was about to head for the till when I spotted something I hadn't seen before. The usual brown paper bag but bearing a green label with the intriguing words "No Knead Flour". On closer inspection this mixture of coarse wholewheat flour and pinhead oatmeal promised to be able to produce a loaf simply by mixing with warm water, salt and yeast, leaving to rise in a 1 lb loaf tin and then baking in a 230C oven (210C in a fan oven) for 30 minutes. I bought a bag, pushed it into the cupboard when I got home and promptly forgot all about it ... until this morning when I went searching for pasta flour (that's a posting for another day).
I put 288g of the flour in a mixing bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of quick-acting dried yeast then added 300ml of very warm (but not hot!) water; stirred the lot to a sloppy mixture and poured it into a non-stick loaf tin which went into the airing cupboard until the mixture had risen level with the top of the tin (about 40 minutes). After 30 minutes in the oven (230C) the loaf slid easily out of the tin and the picture below shows the finished product. The crust slice has since disappeared with a helping of Bowland whey butter!
The loaf has an open texture and will probably be good toasted. It's delicious as it is.
I'm the lad who got 17% in a Chemistry exam when I was 13 so I have no idea how this works ... but it does.
Whilst the loaf was baking I browsed the recipe bookshelves and pulled out the first recipe book that Gill and I bought after we married - Delia Smith's "Frugal Food", the Coronet paperback that cost the princely sum of 70p back in 1976. You can see the effects of 36 years of regular use in the picture below. And look how young Delia loooks!
There are so many good recipes in this little book that is is no surprise we have returned to it often as our family grew up. I don't know if it is still available or has been updated (some of the recipes are "of their time") but if you haven't got a copy it is certainly worth seeking out.