For the Biga: either 150g of Organic Dark Rye Flour or 150g Barley Flour, 150g water at room temperature and 1tsp (about 4g) of dry yeast. Mix together before you go to bed and leave overnight (in a coolish place if the ambient temperature is very warm).
Next morning, mix together....
250g Strong Wholemeal Flour - if you don't want it too righteous, you can always sieve some of the bran out (sorry Shipton Mill, I'll go and wash my mouth out immediately!)
250g Finest Bakers White Bread Flour No1
10g Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Rapeseed Oil
300g ish of Water at room temperature to the biga, stir well and add this to the dry ingredients. You may need to add some more water if the mix feels too dry. If you are hungry and in a hurry for your bread, you could add another teaspoon of yeast at this stage but there's no need, it'll just take a little longer to rise without it.
Leave to stand for 10 - 15 minutes, then tip on to an oiled surface and give a quick 20 second knead and three or four stretch and folds. Leave it on the worktop but cover it with the upturned mixing bowl.
After 10 minutes, repeat the knead/stretch/fold, cover with the upturned bowl and then repeat once more after afurther ten minutes (who said bread making was hard work!). Now place the dough in the oiled mixing bowl and leave to rise until almost double in size. It takes as long as it takes...in our freezing cold house in the middle of winter, that's ages!
Tip on to a floured surface (I use wholemeal flour) and divide the dough into two. Stretch, fold and shape into two loaves. I do the second prove in bannetons, lined with muslin and dusted with wholemeal flour.
Once the loaves are nearly ready, pre-heat the oven to 220c. When the oven and the risen loaves are synchronised, tip the loaves on to baking trays and score the top. Add a little hot water to the bottom of the oven to add steam. Then place the loaves in t'oven and turn down to 200c for 30 minutes. After30 minutes, turn down to 170c and bake for a further 12 - 15 minutes. This is for our ancient fan oven, you might need to adjust accordingly if you have a swanky new oven or range!
Then leave to cool on a wire rack....if you can!
If I'm freezing the loaves, I slice them once they are completely cold and get slices out half an hour before breakfast. That way, you'll have nice crusty bead each morning. I've never quite understood how that works, it seems slightly counter-intuitive, but take them out the freezer and crusty they are.
I've tried various combinations of flour including wholemeal spelt, dark rye, barley and strong white but our favourite combination is dark rye for the biga and wholemeal wheat and strong white the next day. Using the strong white seems to give a better rise and lighter texture (and it's not quite so righteous!).
Adding 50g of pumpkin seeds is a good addition too.