Today’s recipe is for my staple gluten and grain-free bread, buckwheat bread. I love this bread SO much. Too much. I have to ration it.
we’re just back from our honeymoon!
The wedding was on a lovely sunny day, the ceremony was a small and simple registry office affair, very real and meaningful for us, and the afternoon reception was lovely; everyone enjoyed themselves, and the vegetarian buffet was a massive hit!
Things do not always, or often! go to plan, I know this well! Life is like the wind, it takes it own course, you can sometimes influence it, but you cannot stop it, and the day happened, not exactly as I had imagined as I was unwell and it was a big challenge for me, but as a cumulative effort, which was wonderful to behold and a success in so many ways. The sun shone, a miracle in itself, the children played on the field, where I have early memories of playing, and everyone was happy. Families came together, many making long journeys to be there, and people were reunited, or meeting for the first time, absent loved ones were fondly missed and those present fondly greeted and so much positivity was directed at us as a couple that it was such an awesome thing.
I found that on the run up to a wedding it is the details, the arrangements, that dominate your mind, and this planning is important as you are creating an event for everyone to share. But the day is so different for the bride and groom, as you somehow inhabit a higher plain, bathed in the goodwill of those around you, your family, friends, and new extended family. It was so special. You realise how many good people there are in your life, and how lovely it is to have such an occasion where they can all come together, have a good time, and be valued. I’m so thankful for being a part of that experience.
Our honeymoon was a few days in a beautifully converted stable (very biblical, kind of, in a 21st Century way!) in North Norfolk, near the coast; and after a long train journey with many changes we collapsed into an ill, coughing heap, in luxury, and it rained and rained, and rained! I had been so looking forward to days spent swimming in the sea, but it was not meant to be. I was not well enough, and the weather was too cold. But on the last morning the sun made a brief appearance (I know it doesn’t look like it but it was there!) and I went for it and had a paddle up to my knees, which actually was one of the most exhilarating and wonderful times of my life!
I love the sea! The experience of its colour is just incredible to me, and the waves, the water, the sound and feel, the wild power, the constant change, I just adore it so much. And the North Norfolk coast and North Sea hold a special place in my heart, and in that of my family, past and present. There are so many memories going back through the years. I try not to be sentimental about such things, but it was poignant, especially as I was wearing my recently departed Grandma’s wedding ring, who as a girl, between the wars, used to cycle to the same beach with her sister all the way from Norwich. And that’s what marriage reminded me of, that this life is fleeting and we must make the most of it and try to understand what it’s all about, and what we must do, in our search for meaning, wellness and true happiness.
I’m a free spirit at heart, and a feminist, and though we’ve been together since I was a teenager (a long time ago!), on the run up I found the whole thing pretty intense in many ways as it forced me to assess my life and our life together. It is a real landmark event. The reality is that marriage is serious and deeply meaningful, and it took me by surprise as I truly felt we basically were married, just without the piece of official paper. But the process is important, the day is so lovely, and being married does feel different. Better. We are paired in this life to help each other on this often wonderful and often difficult journey, and to do our best to be the best people we can and to help each other put our best foot forward, and our wedding rings will serve as a daily reminder of that.
Once home, (dear home! after a day spent travelling we were so pleased to get there and see the cat, who was nonchalantly cleaning himself on the chair as though our arrival wasn’t a momentous occasion!), we needed something nourishing, filling (and symbolic). What better than a nutritious loaf of buckwheat bread, to fill the house with warmth and its delicious scent, and to fill us up too.
Bread is a staple food for most people and cultures around the world, leavened or unleavened; it is basic, comforting, filling food you can share. Bread is symbolic of civilisation, and I think buckwheat bread is of the most civilised as it is so good for you, and such an ancient flour. Also bread is linked to procreation, symbolically, and loaded with such metaphor apt for newly weds. But for now, we need a meal, and such meanings are only subconsciously absorbed!
Buckwheat flour makes the most wonderful, light, nutritious loaf of gluten-free bread. A pseudo-grain, it’s lower GI/ GL than other flours, better for the digestive system and health in general (buckwheat is known to be good for the heart). It’s so tasty and filling without being heavy like other wholemeal loaves, and such an easy bake.
- 2 cups (300g) buckwheat flour
- 2 cups warm water, maybe a little more or less depending on sift and how moist you like your bread
- 3/4- 1 tsp salt (1 makes it quite salty, which I enjoy)
- 3/4 tbsp coconut sugar, other natural sweetener like agave or date syrup
- 3/4 tbsp easy dried active yeast
- Handful of sesame seeds, or seed of choice
- Olive oil/ other oil of choice
- 1-2 tbsp psyllium husk, or ground linseed, this binds and is very good for you, but I think in this loaf makes it a little less spongy. If using add a dash more water.
Warm the oven on a low heat
Mix the ingredients thoroughly, minus the seeds, mixing in the salt before you add the yeast. Add the water, start with 2 cups, which should be enough though flour sifts vary and a fine sift will absorb more. You want the mix to be lose and pour-able, but not too runny. Grease your pan with oil and pour in the batter, filling it half way (it will double) and sprinkling the seeds on top. Leave the bread covered in a warm place to rise for about 45 mins, or longer, (I recommend a warmed oven, not too hot just warm, as then you don't knock the dough by moving it). Put a ramekin or other earthenware dish of water in the oven. Turn up the heat to full. Bake at 220 C or in a hot oven for around 25 mins. Tip out onto a cooling rack, if bottom is soft, turn over and bake for another 5 minutes or so to crisp, and then put back in the oven to crisp up the top for a few minutes as will have softened, unless you like a softer crust when you're good to go. Cool on a cooling rack.
I use a 13 x 9 x 3 inch rectangular baking pan. You can use whatever you have or fancy using, but remember that buckwheat bread does not rise too high as there is no gluten and the dough is wetter. In my experience it's good to have a shallower loaf with a good crust and not so much middle, and not to overload the pan also. If you're using a smaller pan, just use less mixture, or distribute between several and cook for less time.
The wetter the mix the thicker and flakier the crust (within reason!). Less water gives a drier, denser loaf texture, and a drier crust, that's also very good indeed. Experiment, note down your variances and find the loaf you love most!
The mixture should be slack like a cake, some fine sift flours absorb more water immediately, so adjust the water accordingly, you can't go too wrong, just don't make it far too wet or far too dry. I started out recommending a little more water, but I don't know if the flour I buy changed but nowadays it seems to need less so I have set the recommendation at 2 cups.
As buckwheat flour has no gluten, you do not need to beat or knead, the mix is ready to go: easy!