Max asked me if I was going to make “Bestemor Brød” soon, so I thought I would make a batch. What exactly is Bestmor Brød – or Grandmother’s Bread? It is an amazingly tasty, healthy and simple bread recipe that has been handed down in my husband’s family, for at least 6 generations! My mother-in-law has eaten this bread every day of her 74 years, since a little girl on the farm in north Norway. The satisfying crunching softness of biting into this dense, yet light bit of Norwegian sustanence brings my husband, Vidar, back to summers on his grandparents’ farm, by the salmon river, picnicking on sandwiches of this bread and his grandfather’s home smoked salmon. I love the continuity of baking this bread for my own children, to give them a healthy foil for their own beloved smoked salmon sandwiches, along with a healthy dose of nostalgia and tradition.
This is a fantastic beginner bread recipe, because it is based on a certain proportion of ingredients. Once you get the basics down, you can easily experiment with different kinds of flour. The recipe calls for flour in pounds (or kilos). If you don’t have a scale – the next time you are forced to walk the entire maze of an IKEA outlet – grab a kitchen scale in the kitchenware department.
Mine was inexpensive, it works really well, and it is easy to switch between kilos and ounces. The day I impulsively threw this (and other stuff I probably didn’t need) in my cart while trying to find the exit at IKEA was probably the turning point in the life of a very reluctant baker.
My stand-up mixer isn’t large enough to accomodate 2 batches of this bread, but I usually throw together 2 batches in a session. This produces 4 loaves of bread. I then slice the loaves in half and freeze all but one whole loaf of bread.
- 2 lb (35 oz / 1 kg) spelt flour
- 12 oz (350 g) whole wheat flour
- 4 cups (29 fl oz / 850 ml) water
- 2 oz (50 g) fresh compressed or 2 tsp (.4 oz / 12 g) active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1tbsp light syrup (Swedish baking syrup)
- Heat the water to 99F (37C) or 104F (40C), depending on whether using fresh or dry yeast, respectively.
- Pour the water into the bowl of a stand-up mixer, and stir in the yeast and disolve. If using dry yeast, let it sit until it becomes foamy.
- Add the oil, salt and syrup to the yeast-water, and stir, making sure the salt has disolved.
- Add both the spelt and whole wheat flours to the mixer bowl.
- Fit the mixer with the bread hook, and secure the bowl.
- Run the mixer first on low, then up to medium high, as the dough comes together.
- Run the dough on medium-high for 5 minutes.
- Cover with 2 thin dish or baking towels, place in a draft-free area and allow to yeast for an hour. (If making 2 batches, put dough in a second, oiled bowl and cover to yeast, so you can use the mixer to put together a second round of dough)
- After an hour, knead the dough again, on a floured work surface, with flour-dusted hands.
- Cover the dough and allow to rise again for another hour.
- Oil 2 bread pans.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and work form 2 loaves in the bread pans.
- Cover and allow the loaves to double in size. It will take approximately an hour, depending on the room temperature. Expect longer rising times in a cooler kitchen.
- Put bread in bread pans, and bake for an hour at 430F (220C). If bread is golden brown, remove from oven. Let bake an additional 5-15 minutes more, if bread hasn’t finished cooking, checking regularly.
- Keep a record of how long the bread takes to bake in your particular oven.