When it comes to feeding, my little baby daughter has never been a natural. And when I recently started to introduce solids, she steadfastly refused to be given anything from a spoon or my finger. No tasty purée could tempt her. She did however take the spoon if it was put in front of her on her tray and into her mouth it went. I started giving her chunky finger foods such as broccoli florets which she could hold herself and after a few weeks I decided it was time to introduce some baby breadsticks for more a baby-led weaning approach.
Looking into baby’s nutritional requirements, The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook advises: “Under-fives are littler power-houses of development and growth. They need lots of energy, so starchy, calorie-dense foods are important – plenty of bread, pasta, rice and cereals. For adults, consuming starches in a high-fibre, wholegrain form is highly recommended. For little children, that’s not the case. Too much fibre can be over-filling and stop them eating other, nutrient-rich foods. Very high-fibre foods, such as bran cereals, can be hard for them to digest and may stop them absorbing nutrients. You don’t have to ban all wholegrain foods, but try to combine white and wholemeal bread, pasta and rice, gradually shifting more to wholegrain foods as your child matures.”
Based on my research, these are the foundations of my baby breadstick recipe:
Using mainly white flour (a mix of white wheat and spelt flours)
Adding a little bit of wholewheat flour (20% of all the flour in the recipe)
Adding yoghurt for some dairy and including a few tablespoons of rapeseed oil to add some fat/oil (both dairy as well as fat/oil are important pillars of baby’s nutritional needs)
Optional addition of ground herbs or spices into the breadstick dough to introduce baby to new flavours
Pieces of toast and firm bread make good finger food and can be dipped into purees and sauces. Many baby rusks on the market contain as much sugar as a sweet biscuit. Opt to make your own sugar-free breadsticks instead. It's super easy and you can make a big batch, freeze them and defrost as needed. You can add some herbs or spices into the breadstick dough if you want to mix it up for your baby. I sometimes divide the dough into three parts, leaving one part plain (with no added herbs or spices) and adding different herbs such as finely chopped rosemary or spices such as garam masala to the other two parts.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to form a dough
Knead for 10 minutes on a work surface until you have a smooth, even dough
Place back into the bowl and cover
Keep to proof at room temperature for an hour or so until the dough has visibly increased in volume
Knock back the dough and split off walnut-sized pieces
Roll each piece into a 10 cm rod
Place on two lightly greased baking trays
Leave to rise for about 20 minutes
Bake at 200°C for 10 mins
Leave to cool on a wire rack
Cut the breadsticks into halves (lengthwise) and toast them before giving them to your baby. This helps to avoid them softening too quickly. Always watch your baby carefully when offering them breadsticks and break off any big soggy bits before they disappear into the baby’s mouth to avoid choking. Dip both sides of the bread stick into your baby’s food 🙂
For those worried about food allergies, Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner states: “There is no need to worry unduly about food allergies unless you have a family history of allergy or atopic disease. The incidence of food allergy in babies with no family history of allergy is very small (approximately 6%). (…) Don’t remove key foods such as milk or wheat from your child’s diet before consulting a doctor.
After a mini break from blogging due to the arrival of my sweet little baby daughter, I wanted to share my current go-to sourdough bread recipe with you. This multigrain sourdough bread has been the weekly staple loaf in our house over the last six months. It’s a super easy, yet wholesome and delicious recipe which I found easy to integrate into my new-baby-routine.
As with most sourdough recipes, it’s not difficult to fit the required steps into your day. A few small steps at a time, 5-10 minutes here or there, is easy to fit around even a newborn baby’s needs.
Since giving birth, I use my grain mill a lot more. I now just have bags of grains (wheat, spelt, rye, oat, barley) at home and mill to fine flour or more roughly chopped grain mixtures as I see fit. I still need to use white flours as all flours milled by the grain mill are naturally wholegrain.
Multigrain bread recipe
Don’t be put off by the amount of steps needed – you will only need a few minutes at a time to bake this delicious multigrain loaf. This is a solid loaf of bread full of delicious chopped whole grains and toasted seeds. It tastes delicious with both sweet and savoury toppings.
With my grain mill it's easy to make any combination of multigrain flour, three grain bread, four grain bread etc. This particular five-grain sourdough bread recipe uses a five-grain mix but you could easily use fewer grain varieties to the same effect, according to what you have at home or personal preference. The recipe for this bread is a modified version of the loaf '5-Korn-Kruste' from the book Rustikale Brote in Deutschen Landen.
Multigrain bread ingredients
If you are using a mill at home to prepare the flour and chopped grainsprepare the various portions as needed on the day.
150groughly chopped grainsa combination of wheat, spelt, rye, oat, barley grain - e.g. 30g each
For the main dough
220gwholemeal wheat flour
80gwholemeal rye flour
For the topping
Ahandful ofchopped grains
How to make multigrain bread
Combine the sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well and cover. Keep at room temperature for about 16-24 hours.
To prepare the toasted seed and grain soaker, toast the seeds in a frying pan (without oil i.e. dry) until they start to release their nutty smell. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped grains and salt. Mix well, then cover with boiling water. Cover the pan and leave to rest at room temperature for 16 hours.
Combine 240g of the refreshed sourdough with the seed and grain soaker and the other main dough ingredients in a large bowl.
Knead for 10 minutes, then cover the bowl and leave to rest for about 45 minutes at room temperature.
Prepare a bread tin (approximately 23 x 11 x 9.5 cm) and brush with sunflower oil.
Knead the dough for another 5 minutes, then shape into an oval to fit into your bread tin.
Brush the surface of the bread oval with water before rolling it in roughly chopped grains.
Place in the bread tin, cover and proof at room temperature for several hours until it has risen to the top of the bread tin.
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Bake the loaf on the second lowest oven shelf for 15 minutes at 250C. Turn down the temperature to 180C and bake for a further 45 minutes.
For a nice crust take the bread out of the tin at the end and place it back in the oven for another 15 minutes at 180C.