Cheap and cheerful, this loaf of Baked Bean Bread celebrates the humble baked Bean by making it the star ingredient.
I start this post with the history of the Great Supermarket Baked Bean War of the mid 1990s. Faced by the arrival of high street newcomers Aldi and Netto, the established supermarket chains slashed the prices of their own brand beans down to 5p a can. The nation’s shoppers and media began to use the price of the humble baked bean as a barometer for frugalness, resulting in Tesco leading a further reduction to 3p. The feverish battle ultimately led to one small chain of stores (Sanders Supermarkets) cutting the price to minus 2p! They actually gave money to their customers for putting a tin of beans in their basket!
While recent times have seen the baked bean become a teatime staple for the savvy shopper, it wasn’t always the case. The first UK sold can of beans came in 1886 from the Queen’s grocers, Fortnum and Mason. The arrival of Heinz tomato sauce and baked beans on these shores was a roaring success, with the middle and upper classes going wild for this American import. As with most established British traditions – such as Christmas trees and white wedding dresses – it was the Victorian penchant for these legumes that saw it become a permanent fixture as part of the Full English Breakfast.
Alongside tinned tuna fish, sweetcorn and condensed milk, I always have baked beans in my pantry cupboard. Not only do they allow me to throw together a quick evening supper in under five minutes, but they provide the basis for my Baked Bean Bread loaf. High in fibre and a good source of protein, they help make this loaf of bread soft and flavourful. I get two loaves of bread from this recipe – each of which keeps its softness for several days after baking.
As with my Stilton and Walnut loaf, I bake the bread inside cast iron pans (dutch ovens). This ensures a perfect bake with a dark, crispy crust and tender crumb within. I use slices of this crusty bread on a Sunday morning for bacon sandwiches, or toasted and topped with scrambled egg for a mid-week supper.Print
- 650g strong bread flour
- 1 x 410g tin of baked beans
- 250ml water
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1tsp salt
- 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I use Henderson’s Relish which is Vegetarian)
- 1 x 7g sachet easy bake yeast
- Empty the baked beans into a blender, swilling around the tin with the 250ml of water before pouring that over the top of the beans. Add the smoked paprika, dried mixed herbs, salt, tomato ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce. Whizz everything together to a smooth pulp.
- Measure the bread flour and yeast into a mixing bowl. I use a freestanding electric mixer, but you can do this by hand if you prefer. Mix everything together and knead until you have a soft, silky dough (around 5 mins in an electric mixer or 10+ if doing by hand).
- Cover the bowl and place in a warm place to prove for an hour. I turn the light on in my oven and place the bowl inside – the heat from the bulb provides the perfect conditions for this stage.
- Take two cast iron pans and use the lids as a template to draw a ring in the centre of two over-sized sheets of greaseproof paper – large enough to fit inside the bottom of the pans and up the sides, providing a bit of an overhang at the top.
- When the 60 minutes is up, the dough should have doubled in size. Uncover the bowl and punch the dough to knock all the air out. Split the dough in two and fold them into shape. For my round pan, I form a ball with the dough; for an oval pan, I form lozenge shape.
- Dust the sheets of greaseproof paper with a little flour and place the dough in the centre of the circles. Dust the loaves with a little more flour and cover with two clean tea towels before leaving somewhere warm to rise while the oven and pans preheat.
- Place the pans inside the oven to preheat at the same time as the oven. You want to set the temperature to 240C/475F/Gas Mark 9 and allow pans and oven to heat up for at least 30 mins.
- After 30 minutes, carefully lift the pans out of the very hot oven and rest on a trivet. Working quickly, remove the lids and gently lower the sheets of greaseproof paper and risen dough balls into the hot pans. Replace the lids and put the pans back into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes with the pan covered before removing the lid and completing the bake for a further 5-10 minutes (a longer bake will give you a darker crust).
- When the baking time is up, remove the pans from the oven and use the overhang of the greaseproof paper to carefully lift the loaves of bread out of the pans. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing to eat.
- Store the bread in an airtight container.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: baking, bread
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: baked beans, bread, baked bean bread, crusty bread, crusty loaf, loaf of bread, toast, breakfast, baking