We’re not the first people to need a better daily bread. A loaf that is 100% whole grain and suitable for both toast and sandwiches. A loaf that is anyone can make, easily.
As World War II progressed, the quality of bread in England became a major issue. The ordinary people of Britain were subsisting, often, on little more than tea and bread and jam. They couldn’t get supplies of American wheat because the ships that crossed the Atlantic would loaded with war-related goods, but no one knew how to bake with British wheat, which is ‘soft’ – that is, it doesn’t have the high gluten content that makes soft, high loaves.
The government needed a healthy population to support the war ef
fort. In stepped a nutritionist, Doris Grant. Miss Grant was also known for a food philosophy called food-combining that had a revival in the ‘80s and still has adherents. (Some of the latest findings about glycemic indexes and such may even support her approach.) The government wasn’t interested in food fads, but they wanted ordinary families to have decent bread.
Thus was born the famous Grant loaf.
The beauty of this is that you really can have homemade bread all the time, for pennies. Of course this isn’t the only homemade bread, and it may inspire you to make others that require kneading. But the Grant loaf has myriad advantages. It requires only four ingredients. There’s a single bowl to wash. You don’t have to scrub the counter to knead or scrape up flour afterwards. And it is delicious.
The Grant loaf is a whole meal when spread with peanut butter. It makes nutty brown, fragrant toast and superb cheese toast, the British equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich. And it is the epitome of teatime brown-bread-and-butter, thinly sliced and cut into triangles. I used to wonder about the brown-bread-and-butter people were always munching on in English novels, but now that I know the Grant loaf I understand exactly how this is a perfect foil to scones and teacakes.
Brown Bread (Grant Loaf)
Makes 1 loaf – I generally make 2 at a time
2 t salt
1 pound wholewheat flour (my favorite is Hodgson Mill; if I have to use King Arthur I add wheatgerm and wheat bran)
1 packet (about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
1-2 T molasses (I don’t use this)
1 2 c water, at blood temperature
butter to grease pan
* Preheat oven to its lowest setting. Add the salt and flour to a heat proof mixing bowl and stir well. Put the bowl in the warmed oven. When both the bowl and its contents are comfortably warm (but note hot), remove from the oven and stir in the yeast.
* Dissolve the molasses in 1 cup warm water. Add to bowl of flour, plus enough additional water to make a sticky dough (just too wet to knead).
* Put the dough into a generously greased loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free corner to rise by 1/3, about 45 minutes.
* Preheat oven to 375F. Bake loaf until nicely browned, about 45 minutes. Turn out onto a towel-wrapped hand and tap the bottom with a finger. It should sound hollow. You can also turn off oven and leave the decanted loaf on the oven rack for 20 more minutes to develop a crisper crust. (r you can brush the top with milk for a softer crust.
I now save electricity by baking 2 loaves in a convection toaster oven, only 25-28 minutes at 350F.