I can't remember the last time I made a loaf of bread by hand and since I have been in France, there hasn't exactly been any need to. I used to think of it as some unexciting and lengthy task when in fact, there is nothing more satisfying that baking a loaf of bread. I find the kneading therapeutic, the smell incredibly comforting and the taste is unbeatable. So when I found myself in the kitchen a few weekends back, experimenting with baked root vegetable crisps, I decided to give it a go. As always, my sundried tomato obsession got the better of me, and I added some pumpkins seeds for a good bit of crunch, but really its a very versatile recipe and you can flavour your bread with anything, from black olives and rosemary to walnuts and dried sour cherries. I already have so many ideas for different flavours to share with you...
Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to any diet. They are an amazing source of zinc, omega-3 fats and magnesium, which is vital for some many processes in your body (especially energy production in cells). Since they are packed full of all this goodness, they help you sleep, have anti-inflammatory benefits and (one for the boys...) promote prostate health. Aside from their numerous health benefits, one of the best things about pumpkin seeds is that they are on the cheap end of the scale when its comes to smoothie/salad toppings.
2.5 cups of spelt flour
1 tsp of yeast
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp of olive oïl
1 cup of warm water
0.5 cups of pumpkins
0.5 cups of sundried tomatoes (hydrated in warm water)
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, then add the warm water and oïl, mixing them with the dry ingredients until a dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes, then place back in the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for an hour.
When the hour is up, pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Place the dough on a well oiled baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until golden and crusty. The bread is best served whilst still warm - I love it with soup, hummus, garlic mushrooms or smashed avocado.