This time last year I was so unbelievably, unbearably smug. I was eating healthily, I drank loads of water and I had a workout routine. Hell some days I went to TWO exercises classes – one after the other, like some kind of superhero. And I didn’t get ill all winter, and I am a sickly person. I am the most hospitable host (as my friend would say) so I will catch anything that is going around. Then I moved away from my lovely gym and in my with lovely (not yet) inlaws and my eating habits reverted back to normal.
So this winter I have picked up pretty much every bug and cold making the rounds. I am sure that living in a new area isn’t helping. You know, like when you start university and everyone gets freshers flu, which is just a mashup of everyone’s different strains of colds that you haven’t grown up with so you aren’t immune to. Well this year I have a winter of east London flu, and it’s not pretty. It is curled up on the sofa with a duvet and a box of tissues, in thick fluffy socks and a thermal hat, forcing myself to drink and entire water filter throughout the day whilst binge watching Bones and Essie Buttons videos. Which is even more embarrassing after hearing my boss and her agent try to understand why on earth makeup vloggers are so popular.
Now I know me, and as much as I would like to think that when I am ill I will eat healthy soups and fruit packed muffins, I actually eat toast. For every single meal. Usually using my favourite comfort food – pre-packaged white bread. Sometimes it’s exciting toast, topped with roasted vegetables or mushed up avocado. But mostly it’s just hummus or peanut butter. So bring on the slightly-healthier-than-average white bread. It’s made with 50% wholemeal and packed with seeds which a full of magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus which are needed to boost your immunity and up energy production. That way, on days when dragging yourself off the sofa and slathering something onto toasted bread feels like the ultimate win, at least you’re getting a few extra nutrients for your buck.
^^^ some of the toast pics I have shared on instagram over the last 6 months ^^^
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330ml luke warm water (in cold weather like this I use 250ml tap water and 80ml boiled)
25ml sesame seed oil
280g white strong flour, plus extra for dusting
280g wholemeal strong flour
5g himalayan pink salt
15g poppy seeds
15g golden linseed
15g brown linseed (or 30g of one kind)
50g sunflower seeds
flavourless oil for greasing
- In a jug mix together the waters, oil, yeast and sugar. Leave to one side for 5 minutes until the yeast is foaming (which means that it’s activated).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the rest of the ingredients and give a quick stir to mix them. Once the yeast is activated add the wet ingredients to the dry, and using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, knead for 12 minutes.
- Once the 12 minutes are up, pile all the dough onto the hook and remove the bowl. If the bowl is stuck, which is quite often is on my kitchen aid, give the bowl 3 or so smacks with an open palm, this will loosen it. Litttle trick I learnt yesterday!
- Remove the dough from the dough hook and shape into a ball. You do this by first pinching a small section of the side of the dough, stretching it out slightly then pressing it firmly into the middle of the dough, repeat the step to the immediate side of your first, then again until you’ve worked your way all the way round. Then flip the ball over, and using gently cupped hands quickly and lightly pull your hands over the side of the dough and underneath repeatedly, rotating as you go to create a smooth ball. Oil the mixing bowl liberally and place the dough back in it. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour.
- Knock the air out of the dough then repeat the last step. This extra hour of rising gives the bread extra flavour.
- When the dough has risen stretch the dough out until you have formed a thin sheet about 1cm thick. Fold into thirds – imagine you’re folding an A4 letter to go into a standard envelope. Starting at one of the thinner ends, roll the dough towards you, using your thumbs to tightly tuck the roll so it stays taut, you don’t want any gaps in the roll.
- Place the loaf in a very well floured proving basket (I have this one), sprinkle with flour, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise a second time, for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size again.
- About 30-40 minutes in, turn your oven on as high as it will go (or about 240C) - you want it screaming hot. If you have a baking stone – I used my pizza stone – put this in the oven now too. If you’re using a regular baking tray this can be left out until you need it.
- 10 minutes before your dough is ready put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.
- Remove the clingfilm, gently turn the loaf out onto the tray that you are using, with a sharp knife score along the top to prevent the crust for cracking, place in the oven and for and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- When your alarm goes off, remove the water tray from the oven and let some of the steam out, and turn the oven down to 210C, and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and it sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom.
- Allow to cool, and keep in an airtight container to stop from going stale.