Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Busy People's Bread

A few of you have recommended Annabel Langbein's "Busy People's Bread" and as it happens I have the right recipe book on my bookshelf, so I have made it a couple of times.

There's little to report! I made it. It's good!

I love the way it's so easy. You mix it all up in a bowl, and bake it on a low temperature for 20 minutes, and a higher temperature for 40 minutes. The rising happens in the first 20 minutes, and it doesn't require much thought or mucking around.

The first time I made mine I mixed it by hand, but I didn't do a good enough job of stirring the salt through evenly, so I did it in my mixer the next time. If you want to do it by hand, just make sure you stir it well and it'll be fine.

I found it to be a rather heavy and almost stodgy bread, which is not all bad. It's the kind of bread that needs a long time in the toaster to turn brown and crispy, and it's packed full with loads of good stuff. The bread that I mix in my bread machine is a little lighter and fluffier which I prefer for sandwiches, but this is great to have on the side with a salad or eggs. Mind you, Annabel suggests having it with horseradish cream, smoked salmon, red onion and leafy greens. Golly, I could do that.

So I think you should try it. It is so easy and could happily find a place somewhere on your menu. Try it and see how you like it best.

I changed the recipe just a little, and the version below includes my changes. Annabel uses equal amounts of white and wholemeal flour, where I reduced the wholemeal. She uses twice as much honey as I have done, and where she does 2 cups of sunflower seeds, I did one cup of mixed seeds.

Busy People's Bread (Annabel Langbein, with a few changes from me)
2 cups boiling water
2 tsp rice syrup or honey
2 cups cold water
7 teaspoons dry yeast
3 1/2 cups high grade white flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons salt
1 cup mixed seeds
(pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)
Preheat oven to 80 degrees and grease and line two loaf tins (25 x 10cm).
Pour boiling water in to a large bowl, and add honey/syrup to dissolve.
Add the cold water and yeast, and leave aside for 10 minutes.

Measure flours, salt and seeds while waiting, then whisk the yeast mixture and add in the dry ingredients.
Mix well.

Pour in to tins, run a knife across the top to stop the bread from splitting, and sprinkle extra seeds on top if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes at 80 degrees, then turn oven up to 210 and bake for another 30-40 mins.               


  1. Oh yum! This looks a lot like the staple home-made bread of my childhood, which was a wet mix put into loaf tins (no kneading). I love this kind of bread for pretty much anything! Your recipe looks easy and delicious - may have to get into it :)

    1. Oh good! That's a great childhood memory. Let's get in to it together - you're on salmon ;)

    2. Well THAT makes it even easier :)

  2. My original attempt at a comment didn't work, so I'm trying again... Whereas that one said "oh good, I must give that a try" this one can say "oh good, our first batch is in the oven!" - we had to revert to a more even balance of flours as I didn't have quite enough white, and some of our measurements were a little approximate (at least, they were once Isabelle had "helped" do the stirring and spilled flour over the table...), and we chucked in a cup of chopped walnuts for the hell of it because they were in the cupboard next to the sesame seeds and it seemed like a good idea... I'll let you know how it turns out. I have high hopes! :)

    1. Hmmm, mixed results, I have to be honest. Have you had problems with it sticking? Mine stuck quite badly, but I probably just need to grease the tins better. I suspect ours was a little underdone, too, as it was still rather stodgy in the middle. It tasted a bit salty to me, but that's probably because I so rarely put salt in anything these days.
      Having said all of that, it was still very more-ish nonetheless - Isabelle enjoyed eating what we'd made, and I found it went particularly well as a base for cheese-on-toast. I imagine it would also work well alongside a thick, hearty stew or soup (it's really not a salad time of year for us!) The walnuts worked well, I think - gave a bit of a different texture in the absence of any of the larger seeds you used.
      Will definitely try it again (although next time probably without the assistance of a 3 year old!)

    2. Hmm indeed. I suggest you try lining your tin with baking paper, and grease it well. And yes, more cooking won't harm.I almost had the stodge problem. Funny about the salt - as I wrote up the recipe I thought that seemed like a lot, but I presume I have just done what it says... You will need a little I think but you could drop it significantly.

      I love it when people try things and let me know. Looking forward to hearing again.

    3. A thing I discovered (thanks to excellent advice) last time I made bread that stuck in its tin: just wait. Leave it for 20 minutes before you try to turn it out and, miraculously, it will come out without any trouble. I wanted to knock on the bottom to see if it was done, but you can just wait and if it's not sounding hollow enough you can still put it into the cooling down oven after that gap. It'll come out fine.

      Disclaimer: I haven't made this particular bread. But I suspect the problem is the same.

    4. Brilliant tips and brilliant timing. I read them just before baking christmas bread today, and both were put to use successfully. Well, I will tell you for sure after our tea time ham sandwiches...