This loaf first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, and is a favourite weekend recipe of mine. It was based on a similar loaf from Economy Gastronomy, by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett, using mashed chickpeas and sun dried tomatoes, but mine is, as ever, the more austere version. It is delightfully accidentally vegan, and robust enough for toasting, serving with a pile of grilled tomatoes or some kind of roasted red pepper dip. If you don’t finish it before it goes stale, the breadcrumbs make an excellent topping for a simple pasta dish, too.
Makes 1 decent sized loaf, to serve 6 at 17p each
400g carton of chickpeas (240g drained weight), 39p (39p/400g, KTC brand)
1 tbsp oil, 2p (£3/3l, Sainsburys vegetable or sunflower oil)
A pinch of salt, <1p (40p/750g, Sainsburys table salt)
400g plain white flour, 17p (65p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)
7g fast action dried yeast, 7p (£1.25/125g, Doves Farm)
A couple of pinches of mixed dried herbs, <1p (40p/14g, Sainsburys Basics)
1 tbsp bottled lemon juice, or vinegar, 3p (55p/250ml, Sainsburys)
400g chopped tomatoes, including the juice, 35p (35p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)
First drain the chickpeas over a large bowl to reserve the liquid, it is called ‘aquafaba’ and the glutinous gloop is an excellent egg replacer in vegan baking. Just pour it into a jar and pop it in the fridge and use it within two weeks. It stinks, but it vanishes in sweet baked goods, so don’t let the slight aroma of cat food put you off.
Anyway, thoroughly rinse your chickpeas under cold water to get rid of the tinny taste, and pop them into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher briefly to soften them and rough up the edges, and add a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt to help it along the way.
Add the flour, yeast and herbs and stir it all together. Give it another mash, if you’re so inclined.
Strain the tomatoes to separate the chunks from the juice, and tip the tomatoes in. Add the vinegar to the reserved tomato juice, and top up with warm water to make the liquid up to 200ml.
Make a well in the middle of the chickpea and flour mixture and pour in half of the liquid, mixing together. Gradually add as much of the remaining liquid as you need until you have formed a soft, sticky dough that is firm enough to shape but doesn’t stick to your hands.
Lightly flour your work surface, then tip the dough out and knead and stretch it for around 10 minutes. Pummel it, pound it, push your knuckles into it, it’s like a stress ball but far more satisfying! Pop the dough back into the mixing bowl – don’t worry about giving it a clean – cover with a clean tea towel or cling film, and leave to rise in a warmish place for around an hour.
When the hour has passed, lightly grease a baking tray and gently lift your dough onto it. Pat it into a chubby round shape and leave it for another hour for a second rise. It sounds a faff but the end result, a light fluffy dough with a good firm crust – is well worth it.
Heat your oven to 180C, and cook the loaf for 40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, and a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and dry.
Remove it from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Best eaten fresh from the oven, as all bread is, but it will keep for 3 days if wrapped up properly.
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