Cakey-Goodness Bread, 62p a large loaf (VEGAN)

One of my readers got in touch last week to say that they had started baking bread using recipes from my book and blog, and that it helped immensely with their anxiety. I totally get that – I find if I’m having a wobbly day, or week, a good session of kneading dough helps to work through it somewhat. It’s not a catch-all solution, but it is one of the rare moments in my week where I can stand still and rhythmically bash something, both well recommended for calming the soul. 

Today I decided to do that thing, still not sleeping brilliantly after a fortnight of madness and a little jittery around the edges, and in the beautiful synchronicity of the universe, we had also run out of bread. I like how life works out sometimes.

I was a bit worried when I pulled this out of the oven, the peanuts and high wholemeal ratio had made it a rich, dark brown; exactly the way I like it, but sure to be greeted with abject suspicion from the 5 year old and 4 year old. I got round it by smearing it with honey and telling them it was honey cake toast (my honey cakes are legend among the two smallest people in the house, and how the recipe has never made it on this blog is beyond me, I’ve easily made them ten times this year alone. I’ll have to fix that…)

And so, without further ado, honey cake toast, as christened by the two Smalls, both blissfully unaware that they were asking for seconds of Super Healthy Bread. Aha!

  


Makes 1 large loaf, serves 8-10, for 62p.


200g white plain flour, 7p (Basics, 55p/1.5kg)

200g wholemeal flour, 15p (£1.10/1.5kg)

100g peanuts, 35p (Basics salted peanuts, 70p/200g)

1 tsp dried active yeast, 3p (5g), (Allinsons, 65p/100g)

1 tbsp oil, 2p (Sunflower oil £4/3l)

300ml warm water

First soak your peanuts in cold water for half an hour and rinse thoroughly to remove any excess salt, then shake them in a clean tea towel or kitchen paper to dry them. If you want to speed the process up and don’t mind using the energy, pop them in a dry pan on the heat and blast them, stirring, for a minute or two.
Then pop  your peanuts in a blender (you’ll have to pulse them a few times and give the jug a shake to loosen any bits that get stuck around the blade), or food processor if you have a fancy whizzy one, or bash them in a pestle and mortar if you have one of those, or if you’re low-tech fling them in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin. Whatever floats your nut-boat, you just need to crush them into smithereens.
Tip them into a large mixing bowl, and add both kinds of flour and the yeast and the salt (salt can be omitted if you are cooking for children or are watching your intake, I don’t add it to much but do the occasional bread and usually a little to stocks and sauces). Mix the dry ingredients to evenly distribute them.
Make a well (like a big deep almost-hole) in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add the oil, then most of the water – it should be just warm to touch, if it’s too hot it murders the poor living yeast and then your bread won’t work!) Mix it in well to form a soft dough, adding the rest of the water if it needs it. Your dough should collect all of the flour from around the bowl, but not be too tacky – it shouldn’t leave a residue on your hands. If it’s too dry and cracking, add a splash more water. If you overdo the water, shake a little more flour in.
Tip it onto a well-floured work surface and knead well for a few minutes until it is soft and springy. Kneading is basically stretching it out with your palm and knuckles, folding it in half, giving it a quarter-turn and repeating. And repeating. And repeating, until it is bouncy. Don’t throw it on the floor to test, just gently prod it with your finger to make an indent – it should slowly poof back out again.
Tip it back into the bowl and cover with cling film or a plate or a tea towel, and pop it somewhere warm for an hour to rise. If your home is chilly, or you can’t find a warm place, pop a few tea towels in the microwave for a minute then wrap them around your bowl to give it a big warm cuddle.
When it’s risen, almost doubled in size, pop the oven on to heat at 180C. Tip your dough out onto your floured worktop again and shape into a loaf – this will help knock some of the extra air out, but don’t fiddle with it too much, that air will contribute to a nice light loaf with a wonderful texture. Flour its bottom and place on a baking tray. Cut down the middle half an inch deep with a knife (to let the baking fairies out, according to Irish folklore), and bake for 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it feels light to hold, warm, hollow sounding when you tap the bottom, and your home smells like freshly baked bread. 
My family love it spread thickly with honey, hence the title (although that then doesn’t make it vegan, obviously), CakeyGoodness Bread. One day I might tell them, but until then, I’m enjoying cramming them with unbeknown goodness. Good for grownups too – I like mine with butter and marmite and strong cheese, and Allegra had hers with marmalade…

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe and find my book online at the tax-paying local-bookshop-supporting Hive Stores: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/a-girl-called-jack-100-delicious-budget-recipes/18105011/

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39 Comments »

  1. A Greek friend put her bread into the warm matrimonial bed to rise, early in the morning. She whipped back the bedclothes to show me the bowls wrapped up in towels. She had a woodfired oven (this is a village woman with a large family to feed, and the traditional oven was taken for granted).

    She lined a wooden paddle with sweet chestnut leaves gathered in the autumn specially for this purpose, and slid the risen round loaves, straight out of her bed, into the oven. This is not very relevant to your post, but it shows the living tradition in a remote Greek mountain village. For all I know, she made her own yeast – I cannot imagine her buying yeast locally, so it was probably wild yeasts gathered via a flour and water mix.

    Have you already tried rolling out a lump of bread dough and dry frying it? It puffs up into a pita type balloon which you can squash and eat, or fill with salads, peanut butter, hummus or whatever, and it is soft and warm and tasty and filling and cheap and quick. I keep bread dough in the fridge for this purpose. It takes minutes.

  2. Hi Jack
    Just checking out your blog again – brilliant stuff and great recipes – banana tea curry was fantastic . Just a quick ask really , are you able to post some recipes for some quick snacks that are totally nut and sesame free – my eldest son has a really bad allergy – even walking past a Chinese takeaway can cause a reaction – not good – but really like your web page – just want to find some cheap ways to fill a teenage boy up ! Also could we have some ideas for really healthy stuff – nut and seed free – for our sportsman son ! Swims 6 times a week , gymnastics, karate, Kung fu , trampolining and now running ! Phew exhausting x

  3. Can you use just wholemeal flour instead of adding white flour? Either way, it sounds delicious and I shall be trying it, perhaps with variations on the nuts as well. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Bread made with all-wholemeal flour can be very dense and
      Stodgy with a strong flavour. I started off with 20% wholemeal flour to get the kids used to it and gradually upped it to half and half – any more than that and they don’t like it, but I’m happy with half to be honest!

  4. Hiya,
    Glad the kneading cheered you a bit and am happy to see you’re back on Twitter. I love the ease of the recipe above but am annoyingly allergic to nuts (in a big exploding, straight to A and E, do not pass go, kind of a way), would it still work if I substitited the offending nuts with sunflower seeds? I cook a lot but have never baked bread…am feeling inspired by the idea of cathartic kneading!
    Thank you for all the good work you do,
    Clare

  5. This question isn’t supposed to be facetious – it’s just that I’m curious about what is and what isn’t classed as vegan and yeast, well it’s alive and feeds on sugar so is it really acceptable for vegans?

  6. Love the ‘cake toast’ idea, Reminds me of small DD who liked peas but wouldn’t eat sweetcorn until we started calling it ‘yellow peas’. Hope you continue to feel better and I still think you need a holiday…..wish I had a magic carpet to whisk you away somewhere exotic!!

  7. I alter the bread names for my grandkids – I make a wholemeal sourdough (using Tesco chappatti flour as its so cheap) and throw in seeds of all kinds, raisins that I soak overnight in orange juice or tea (whatever) and sometimes the rind from my marmalade cut up small if its to be really special. I tell them its a “medieval proto cake” – a sort of early peasant form of cake and of course its very good for you. #Can be dense it always varies usually I fling in oatmeal or rye flakes an sometimes wheatgerm if I’ve bought it reduced. Because their eating history they wolf it!

  8. Great ideas here. A few more….

    This dried yeast responds well to being revived in a small amount of warm water with a little honey, rather than being mixed into the flour when dry. I put a saucer over the bowl to keep the warmth in until the yeast bubbles up to show it’s ready to use.

    I’ve been drying, toasting and grinding up seeds from cheap melons, butternut squash etc to substitute for expensive bought nuts and seeds in baking. It works well and, as they’re less addictive as nibbles, they last longer in the cupboard than peanuts or sunflower seeds

    After years of putting the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and ending up with rather too much, not entirely dry flour left over in the bowl, I’ve taken to doing it the other way around and adding only as much of the sifted-together dry ingredients to the liquid ones as they’ll take. Some of the spare gets used when kneading; anything left can await the next batch.

    I also find that – perhaps partly because of the hard water in London – that I need much more water than recipes allow when baking (almost) wholly with non-white flour. Almost as much liquid as flour, for breads.

    Like another commentator here, I use a small proportion of soya flour to help balance the proteins in baked goods, since I don’t cook meat and need to maximise the usable protein in vegetarian foods. I also beat dried milk powder into the water I use, for that reason.

  9. I love bread making. I often look for reduced price baked goods at the end of the day but if I run out, and making just for me I use a mix of 2 parts white bread flour, one part wholemeal bread flour and one part of water – all by volume. When hubby is at home I make white bread – most commercial bread leaves him with an upset tummy but not home baked bread so I have to bake for him. So much easier these days with the instant yeast that is added direct to the flour (buy the tubs, not the sachets and use 4 level teaspoons to one bag (1.5 kg) white extra stong bread flour and 850-900 ml warm water, at least one level tbsp salt and glug of oil – I use this to make 2 large tin loaves or one large tin loaf, one large pizza and enough dough left to make a dough cake or fruit bread or freeze for another day). Salt helps with the structure of the bread, too little will give a sticky dough and too much will inhibit the yeast and even make the dough too salty. Another favourite is oatmeal bread that has a proportion of ground oats – I use the recipe in “Let’s cook with Yeast” by Patty Fisher, which is my breadmaking bible. Mum and I both had various attempts at breadmaking but none were really successful before I got my mitts on this book. I had it on almost permanent loan from the school library in the mid 1970’s and then managed to buy my own copy when I got to University (that £1.75 was well spent!). I have looked and it is available 2nd hand on the internet.
    I hadn’t thought to add peanuts, so will have a go at that in the near future (when hubby is away as he doesn’t react well to nuts or peanuts .. and cumin makes him very ill).
    Thank you for rekindling my interest in baking and I am looking forward to trying various seeded breads (oooooh, and olive bread).
    Stephanie

    • The commercial bread upsets a lot of people, it’s to do with the accelerated proving method. It’s called the ‘Chorleywood’ method and most big-name brands use it. I mostly only bake my own these days – I bought supermarket brioche for the kids a few weeks ago and pinched one as breakfast on the run, it just tasted really chemically! 😦

  10. Thank you so much. It’s on the list of things to make tomorrow. I shall use wholemeal flour from Aldo as it only costs 75p per bag and could I use the equivalent weight of peanut butter as I have some that I got on special that would be cheaper than using peanuts, I think?

    Another truly delicious-sounding recipe, thanks again.
    J x

  11. Oh Wow. This bread is just the best. So glad you posted it. Made it last night. I have been making soda bread ever since I was child but only attempted yeast bread when I had a bread maker. After using a bread maker 4 times a week for 4 years, it eventually blew up. This is the first time I have made yeast bread by hand AND IT WORKED. It’s delicious. Won’t be buying bread in a hurry for a while. If I split the dough into rolls, say 4 to 6, do you have any idea about how much to reduce the baking by, ball park figure or guess would do. 10 mins? 15? Thank you.

  12. Just made it. The house is smelling wonderful, peanut butter worked fine, I shall definitely put this on my ‘make often’ list. It was a lovely feeling dough too; a pleasure to make.
    J x

  13. Hi there! Any reason why you used nuts? Can they be omitted? Would it work with other nuts (say walnuts) too?
    Thank you! Cant wait to try it. All my breads have always come out a little too undercooked/dense so I hope I’ll succeed with this recipe! 🙂

    • Yes that would be fine! When the dough has come together turn the mixer right down slow to gently knead the dough for best results, if you whizz it around quickly the gluten gets all excited and you end up with a very tight dough (and if that happens just leave it to rest for an hour to loosen it up, it’s fixable)

  14. Hi, this looks delicious – does anyone know if it will work in a breadmaker? I think I will try at the weekend… I treated us to one a couple of months ago and I love shoving all the ingredients in and pulling out a fresh loaf at the end of it! Just subscribed to your blog, loving the vegan recipes, thank you x

  15. I made my first (cheat) sourdough loaf today. I made a quick starter yesterday with some flour water and 1/2 teaspoon of quick yeast and left it overnight. I then used this batter with more flour, water and 1 teaspoon yeast with a little oil and 2 teaspoon of salt. I left the resulting dough to prove for several hours (slow is good with sourdough bread) after needing the dough and shaping and placing on a backing sheet a final prove for 45 minutes then into a hot oven for 35 minutes. The resulting loaf has a mildly tangy flavor of sourdough bread but without having to maintain a sourdough culture if you only want to bake occasionally. It will make great toast when a day or so old, but was great slightly warm with butter.

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