Category Archives: Bread

Double Obsessisms

Where to start? It’s been a while and a couple of embryonic obsessisms are in progress, these being solar cooking and bread making. Jonathan, a fellow roadie (2 wheels), gave me a sourdough starter a month or so back, prior to me clipping his back wheel and grating my body like Parmesan along bitumen. After a few goes following his recipe, which resulted in good bread, fantastic crust, but not much sourness, I needed to head off road.

This is where Dan Lepard comes in with his stunning, if slightly anal, baking book ‘The Handmade Loaf’. I followed his recipe for a starter to the letter, though temperature control is somewhat erratic here. An old fridge turned to minimum is a useful item to have around and sticks at around 9-10C. First outing was his ‘Mill loaf’, which is similar to the mix of flours I used to make back in Aberdeen, being mostly white but some rye and wholewheat. His is 60% white, 10%rye, 30% wholemeal- I made the latter two 20/ 20. This worked fine but the lack of sourness is meaning I’m not getting that firm gluey texture you  expect, and no big holes, grrrr.

I’ve been enjoying my own granary style loaf with sprouting toasted wheat grain, and I was very taken by a DL recipe for an Alsatian loaf which had a load of rye grain in it. Here, the rye grain is simmered in water till soft and then soaked in an Alsace wine. Lacking this, I soaked mine in apple juice. I was also rather taken by the addition of a small amount of lard. Interestingly this bread uses both a rye leaven and yeast, presumably it can be a bit heavy in the absence of the normal yeast. The recipe is as follows,

  • 200g rye grains, simmered 45mins in water, drained and soaked in apple juice (to cover), left overnight then drained again.
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 325g water at 20C (see, that’s anal)
  • 3/4tsp fresh yeast (I used half that dry)
  • 25g honey (omitted, as I used the left over apple juice, just made up the total volume of liquid to 325g as above)
  • 300g soaked rye grains
  • 150g rye leaven (refreshed a small amount of white leaven a couple of time over 48hrs with rye flour/ water in a 1:1 ratio)
  • 25g melted lard
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Rather than activating the yeast separately, as DL specifies, I just threw everything in a bowl together and stirred till said sticky mess was attained.

  • Left 15mins, kneaded 10-12 folds on lightly oiled (should have larded),  surface and hands.
  • Left 30mins, kneaded as above.
  • Further 2 or three kneads 30 mins apart.
  • Cut into 5 pieces and shaped into wee batons as shown. Left to rise till doubled. I did this in the fridge as the ambient temperature was over 25C which would make things a bit beery.

You will also see another loaf which is a pure rye loaf sourdough courtesy of DL. This has the rather interesting addition of a gelatinised rye mix where water at 90C is added to rye flour to form this. Left overnight this tasted strangely sweet the next day. Most goes in the mix, but some you brush onto the loaf for a glaze. Also, and interesting departure for me was the use of fine rye flour, basically with the husks removed. I sieved mine to get this and the husks make rather a nice base to pop the bread on when baking.

So, both conicided to hit the oven at 210C, et voila!!!!

Slightly over-risen, hence the razor slashes didn’t cut that cleanly, but OMG, it’s tasty.


Maltastic Leavenation

I’ve been getting a bit tired of the multigrain flour from the supermarket, which seems to have a lot of linseed in it. As far as I’m concerned, linseed should only go near cricket bats, I really don’t see there is anything favourable to be said about it from a culinary POV.

This made me hanker for some granary bread and in the absence of Hovis Granary flour, how about a home effort? Shona found out that the grains are malted wheat or barley. The other flavour essential is malt extract itself, a tin of which we happened to have lurking. I picked up a bag of wheat and we soaked a handful for a day, then placed on damp kitchen paper until sprouted 5-10mm.

Then heated on a highish heat in a thick small saucepan until dark brown as shown, stirring constantly to get an even tan and prevent burning.

The final breadmix was

  • 3cups flour- 3/4 white flour, 1/4 rye (I had no wholemeal, maybe 1/2 next time)
  • a dessertspoon of malt extract,
  • the handful of wheat,
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 300ml water

Into the breadmachine on multigrain setting.

Butter, marmalade, yum.