| 6.4°C Dublin

Private pursuits

Some things are not fit for public consumption, discovers Sophie White, after a mishap involving a treadmill, the internet and some livestock


Seeded brown bread

Seeded brown bread

Seeded brown bread

It's long been the consensus that men are poor multi-taskers and women are much more adept at juggling several jobs at once. I'd like to say this is objectively and categorically true, but I'm starting to wonder if in fact men are on to something with this focusing on one job at a time.

I used to feel a sense of pride that I would often combine activities to get a better bang for my time-management buck. For example, I am typing this week's column from my bath! Similarly, I was a proud proponent of the working run for many months. I'd set myself up on my treadmill and then use the 5km to do research. As a writer, a lot of my work requires research. I co-host a podcast called The Creep Dive. For this podcast, myself and my co-hosts research and relate stories of the macabre and downright icky, usually with a comedic slant.

I was happily doing this for many weeks in the gym, until one fateful day, I was running and watching a horrific documentary on cannibalism when my headphones' battery died. The man being interviewed with his face pixellated-out was now regaling his predilection for eating people to the whole gym.

Now if I was a witness to this happening to someone else, I would probably try to forge a friendship with that person on the spot - after all, it's not easy making friends and finding common ground with people. Sadly, my fellow gym-goers were unbelievably uptight about it, with many turning away in open disgust, while the man on the treadmill beside me exclaimed, "What are you watching?"

I resolved to leave The Creep Dive research to a more private space, and now I combine it with my home yoga practice. It's possible that tales of the worst people to ever have existed slightly jar with the relaxing aims of yoga, but maybe I'm just wired differently.

After cannibal-gate, I opted to do my novel research at the gym instead. This can generally be counted on to be a shade less salacious. I'd be looking up details about police procedures or house prices in Malahide. Of course, inevitably the day came when research demanded I watch a YouTube video of a farmer delivering a calf.

I won't be too descriptive here, I'm aware this is a cooking column, but let's just say that it is an intense process, requiring ropes and a good bit of upper body strength. When I saw my treadmill companion watching me watching it, I knew my days in the gym were numbered.

I have sadly had to take my internet wanderings into a private realm - perhaps where they should have been all along. And so now I do what I call 'bake and rake', baking, while raking through the murkier enclaves of the internet. This bread recipe is the perfect accompaniment to disturbing stories from beyond the bounds of decency.


Seeded Brown Bread

Makes 2 loaves

You will need:

115g plain flour

1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon salt

500g wholemeal flour

500ml milk

Juice of ½ lemon

115g golden syrup

25ml coconut oil, melted

100g mixed seeds

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C,  350°F, Gas 4. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper.

2 In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, the bicarbonate of soda, the salt and the wholemeal flour. Put the milk in a jug, and add the lemon juice. Allow the jug of milk and lemon juice to stand for a couple of minutes to allow the milk to curdle. Then add the curdled milk to the bowl of dry ingredients. Next, add the golden syrup, the melted coconut oil and the mixed seeds.

3 Mix everything well until no pockets of flour remain, then divide the bread mix between the two lined loaf tins. Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until they are  golden and a knock on the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow.

Sunday Independent