Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022

© Christopher Hirsheimer

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Ballymaloe brown bread

Tim Allen, son of Michelin-star chef Myrtle Allen, made this famous loaf one day at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Doris Grant, who created the original recipe and who was a great foe of white flour, presumably would have been horrified when he added a couple of ounces to the mix, but Allen believes that it improves the texture.

1 tsp. (5 ml) treacle (a type golden syrup) or molasses
1 oz. (30 g) fresh active yeast, crumbled or 1 ¼-oz. (7-g) packet active dry yeast
5 c. (1.25 L) stone-ground, whole-wheat flour, preferably Irish or Irish-style or 4
½ c. (1 L) stone-ground, whole-wheat flour mixed with ½ c. (125 ml) white flour,
preferably Irish, or unbleached pastry flour
1 tsp. (5 ml) fine-ground sea salt
sunflower or canola oil for greasing

Dissolve the molasses in 2/3 cups (160 ml) warm water in a small bowl. (Water around 100°F/40°C is ideal; the easiest way to obtain this temperature without a thermometer is to bring 1 c. (250 ml) of water to a boil, then add it to 3 c. (750 ml) cold water. Stir in the yeast and set aside for 8 to 10 minutes or until the yeast begins to froth.

Put the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt.

Lightly grease a nonstick loaf pan with oil.

Make a well in the flour, pour in the yeast mixture and let sit for a minute. Pour in about 1¼ cups (300 ml) warm water (see above), then form your hand into a rigid claw and mix the liquid into the flour slowly, but steadily, in a spiral motion, starting in the middle and working outwards to the rim of the bowl. The dough should be soft and too wet to knead; add more water if necessary.

Let the dough rest in a bowl in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Transfer the dough to the greased loaf pan, cover loosely with a damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes. (“The bread should be what we call ‘proud,’” says Tim Allen, “just beginning to peer over the top of the pan.”)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

Bake the bread for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temper¬ature to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 35 to 45 minutes more. If you like a crisp crust, remove the bread from the pan 10 minutes before it’s done, then return to the oven, placing it upside down directly on the rack to finish cooking. Makes 1 loaf.

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