There is something so amazing with the smell of fresh baked bread coming from the oven. I am almost transformed back in time, remembering my grandmother baking bread. The dark shadows and light in the tiny kitchen. Her low round table and dark wood chairs. Her soft white hands in the soft white dough… A couple of years ago, baking my own bread felt like such an achievement. Nowadays, I feel nothing but pure joy. This is what tried and tested recipes should really look like.
A a simple wholemeal bread could be deeply satisfying. I love to eat it fresh out of the oven with butter and some sea salt. My husband, however really adores it toasted with some cream cheese and smoked salmon. However the meal, the most amazing thing about the recipe is that stored well, the bread can last soft with a lovely crust for several days.
The first recipe I have tried, using 500g of wholemeal flour made the bread really dense. Since then, we love to diversify using 300g wholemeal flour plus 200g plain white flour, or 100 white and 100 rye flour. This makes the bread slightly more soft as texture. But our ode of variation does not stop here, we have since learned to add walnuts, sesame and pumpkin seeds making the bread deliciously crunchy… A simple slice and chocolate spread – hmmm… simply divine!
- 300g strong wholemeal bread flour
- 200g white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g instant yeast
- 10g salt
- 340ml cool water
1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other (salt in direct contact with the yeast could kill it or slow it down).
2. Add the water and, using a plastic dough scraper or your fingers, work together the flour mixture and water. Slowly add the remaining water until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl and the dough is soft, but not soggy. You may not need absolutely all the water.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 – 10 minutes until the dough forms a smooth, soft skin. At first it will feel wet and sticky – continue kneading and you’ll end up with the smooth texture you’re looking for.
4. Shape the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size. This could be anything from one hour to three, depending on how warm your kitchen is but don’t worry too much about leaving it too long, the dough should be fine left for up to three hours.
5. Rub a thin layer of olive oil into a 1kg loaf tin. Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock the air out of it by folding inwards repeatedly. Then flatten the dough slightly and form into an oblong by folding the sides into the middle. Press firmly on the dough where it joins to create a good structure then place your dough in the prepared tin, making sure the join is underneath.
6. Place the tin inside a black plastic bag and leave to prove for about one hour, or until the dough is doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it with your finger. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C and fill a roasting tray with hot water, placing it on the bottom shelf. This will create steam to help your loaf rise with a lovely crust.
7. Dust the risen dough with flour and slash the top with a sharp serrared knife or razor. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through. Check by tipping the loaf out of the tin and tapping the base – it should sound hollow.
8. Remove your loaf from the oven and cool out of the tin on a wire rack.