I wanted to start my first piece as Food and Health editor with a versatile recipe that can be used by students as a satisfying staple, instead of just relying on plain white toast or pasta, as many of us do. Ultimately, I decided on this brown bread recipe, originally from Flahavan’s Oats, as it sustained me for all of first year, fuelling me in the mornings with some scrambled eggs; comforting me in the evenings with grilled cheese, and devoured at lunchtime with smashed avocado and a poached egg.
Although the idea of making your own bread may seem a bit daunting, I encourage you to give it a go. This recipe is so straightforward, with readily available ingredients, there’s no excuse not to adopt it as part of your weekly routine. It takes less than an hour to cook and its preparation time is minimal. As well as that, you don’t even need a bread tin to cook it in! Simply turning the mixture onto a baking tray lined with a sheet of parchment paper results in a delicious crust to your bread. Rich in fibre and protein, it’s a nutritious staple which can be elevated and adapted to suit your preferences in so many ways. I love to add pumpkin seeds for a lovely texture, but any seeds would work just as well. You can even add dried cranberries or apricots for sweetness. Experiment with whatever flavours you fancy, serving it in any of the ways I mention below, and more.
One large (500ml) tub of yoghurt. Natural yoghurt is easiest to get, but if you manage to find hazelnut yoghurt it adds a lovely flavour.
300g (or 3 cups) porridge oats
2 tsp bread soda
A little sweetener (This is flexible. A tablespoon of treacle, golden syrup or honey would do the trick, or a sprinkle of any kind of sugar).
A pinch of salt
Mix the egg, sweetener and yoghurt together, then add this to the porridge oats, bread soda and salt.
Stir until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
Turn out the mixture onto your lined tray or tin. Don’t forget to use greaseproof paper on your two-pound loaf tin or ordinary baking tray.
Sprinkle some porridge oats and/or pumpkin seeds on top.
Bake in the oven for an hour at gas mark 3 or 165°C for 50 minutes, allowing for more time if you prefer a crispier crust.
Allow to cool before tucking in. A wire rack is best for this, but if you don’t have one, improvise with the tray of your grill.
There is a palpable sense of enjoyment and pride that comes with making your own bread like this. The comforting scent will linger in your kitchen for a few hours, allowing you to bask in your achievement for a little while, as you plan all the ways to enjoy your loaf. This bread is gorgeous on its own, but it’s also an excellent carrier for other flavours, sweet or savoury – the potential topping combinations are limitless. Here are a few of my favourite ways to enjoy homemade brown bread, to inspire you at home:
When still slightly warm, this brown bread is gorgeous with a scraping of butter and a dollop of jam, such as raspberry or blackcurrant. This is a sweet and simple way to tuck into your brown bread, perfect with a mug of tea in front of the TV.
At breakfast time, this bread is perfect with eggs, cooked any way you like. Scrambled eggs are the quickest and easiest, and will fill you up for the day, but if you’ve got five minutes more to spare, try poaching or boiling an egg before enjoying with a few slices of toasted brown bread, a little butter and salt.
A trendy (and irresistible) way to consume your brown bread is with the beloved avocado. Slice open an avocado and mash half with a fork, seasoning with salt, pepper and even paprika or chili flakes if you have them. Spread the green goodness on a few slices of brown bread for a quick and satisfying meal.
Eating your brown bread with some peanut butter (or whatever your favourite nut butter is) and a sliced banana is the perfect pre-workout snack, as it will provide energy, protein and potassium (which prevents cramping) in the perfect quantities. No more excuses not to go for that run!
If you’re experiencing some wanderlust, or want to try something new, I recommend experimenting with Mediterranean flavours on your brown bread. A combination of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lightly fried Halloumi cheese, pesto and chorizo can transport the senses for a real treat.
Obviously, these are just starter points. The real beauty of this bread is how easy it is to make and enjoy. Mastering this simple recipe before college starts could be a real lifesaver on those days when you feel like you’ve got no food in the house.