After a lot of experimenting this two-stage recipe has emerged as a tried and tested recipe for our daily bread.
It forces me think ahead, because it’s good to create the starter dough a day before baking the loaves; as that adds to the flavour. On other occasions I’ve got the starter on its way in the morning and used it later when baking in the evening.
The following mixture produces two tasty loaves, with that hint of fennel adding an extra zing to the flavour. Our best results have come from using Shipton Mill Organic Spelt Wholemeal four; but when I run out of Spelt, I use Shipton Mill Organic Stoneground Wholemeal flour which also produces lovely bread. Having experimented with how much fennel to use we’ve settled on using 14g of fennel in 800g of flour and that feels about right.
For the starter dough
300ml warm water
1tsp caster sugar
3tsp fast-action dried yeast
200g organic spelt wholemeal flour
50g organic light rye flour
For the bread dough
40g golden or brown linseed
210g organic spelt wholemeal flour
300g strong white bread flour
14g fennel seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp fast-action dried yeast.
220g warm water
For glazing the loaves
A little milk to glaze the loaves
Your preferred mix of poppy, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds to go on the top of the loaves.
1. For the starter, mix the sugar and water in a small or medium-sized bowl. Then add the dried yeast and wait until it begins to bubble up, and demonstrate it’s alive. Then stir in the flour and mix until a thick paste emerges. Cover the bowl with cling film (or a stretchy plastic cover) and leave overnight to allow the mix to begin to ferment.
2. When you are ready to start baking it may be helpful to get the sugar, yeast and water mixed up and working while you’re getting all the other ingredients ready.
3. Add the starter dough and all the other ingredients together, and then get mixing or kneading. I tend to use the mixer and let the dough hook work on the dough for a few minutes. Spread a little flour on the bread board and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Then shape the dough into a ball and put it in a larger, oiled bowl, cover it with cling film (or a stretchy plastic cover), and leave to rise for about an hour.
4. Grease two large loaf tins.
5. Divide the dough into two, shape into loaves and put in the loaf tins.
6. You may choose at this point to glaze the loaves with a little milk and scatter some poppy, sunflower and pumpkin seeds on top of the loaves. Press the seeds in gently. Then cover the loaves and allow them to rise again for about 30 minutes.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
8. Uncover the risen loaves and use a sharp knife to a cut a few shallow diagonal slits which will allow the bread to rise during the first ten minutes in the oven. Lightly spray a little cold water over the loaves before putting them in the oven.
9. Place the loaves in the pre-heated oven. At this point you may like quickly to spray some cold water into the oven to create some steam which should help to keep the crust flexible in the early stages of cooking.
10. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes at 220°C and then turn the heat down to 180°C and continue baking for a further 15 to 17 minutes (see what works best in your oven). If the bread’s ready, the base of the loaves should sound hollow when tapped. If necessary you can put them back in the oven for a couple of extra minutes to finish off.
11. Leave the finished loaves on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before cutting your first slice of delicious bread.
Added by: Peter Stevenson
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More than just a baking book, this is a book to introduce you to cooking with flour in general, from popular and classic varieties to ancient grains and gluten free flours.