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Plaited Milk Bread

This loaf looks stunning when it comes out of the oven. It is made from spelt, an ancient type of wheat grain with a nutty flavour which produces an excellent bread. Records show spelt was cultivated in the Middle East 12,000 years ago, and by Roman times, had become popular throughout Europe. Oat Drink can be used as the liquid to make the dough.

Ingredients

1 egg, separated into the white and yolk

300ml Oat Drink, gently heated – warm to the touch

500g white, spelt flour  

1 tsp dried yeast

½ tsp salt 

50g butter, or non dairy fat, melted

1 tsp poppy seeds

Method

Add the Oat Drink to the egg yolk and mix well. Set aside the egg white for later. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and add three quarters of the Oat Drink and egg yolk mixture. Draw the mixture together and add the melted butter, non dairy fat. Continue to knead the dough adding the remaining milk and egg mixture if you need to. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and springy.

Cover the dough with oiled cling film and leave it in a warm place for about an hour for the dough to double in size.

To make the dough plait

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

Lightly dust the dough with flour and knead gently for a few minutes before dividing it into three equal pieces – each about 40cm long.

Lay the three strands in front of you, on the prepared baking tray, and pinch the furthest ends together.

Plait the dough by gently lifting the right-hand strand over the middle strand to become the middle one. Then cross the left-hand strand over the new central strand so that it becomes the middle strand. Continue lifting right and left-hand strands over the central one and pinch the ends together to finish.

Brush the dough with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C, Fan 180˚C, Gas 6

Leave the plaited loaf to rise in a warm, place for 25 minutes. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and golden. Tap the underside of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. If it does the loaf is done.

Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before transferring the loaf to a cooling rack