Marking what I hope is my return to breadmaking is today’s mostly organic loaf, a rye bloomer. Flour, as always, is from Shipton Mill, and I always use a stand mixer, in my case a 1200W Kenwood Premier Silver Chef (current version has been downgraded to 1000W for some reason). Without it I couldn’t bake at all – it does all the grunt work for me. You can, of course, make it by hand if you’re able.
My normal loaf is 50-50 white and some form of wholemeal. With rye, which doesn’t rise particularly well, I use more white than usual.
These are my scales, sitting on the cooling rack while my loaf bakes. Very accurate, £49.19 including a mains adapter. Runs on 3 AA batteries or the adapter. I’m still on the original batteries after 2 years or more. Go figure. If you bake a lot, it’s probably worth getting the adapter, it’s only a fiver.
Click pic to go to website.
350g strong white organic flour
150g organic light rye flour
30ml e-v olive oil
30ml organic cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
270ml warm water
1scant teaspoon organic barley malt extract for the starter.
1.5 teaspoons Fermipan Red yeast (it’s the pack that’s red, not the yeast)
I always make this as it gets the yeast off to a flying start.
Measure the warm water into a pre-heated jug, then whisk in the malt extract (take care not to use too much or your dough will be very soft), along with a tablespoon of the mixed flours (before adding salt), and a teaspoon of the yeast (the rest goes straight into the bowl with the flour).
Once everything is well mixed, leave alone for about half an hour, or until it as a thick, creamy, head.
Tip: Weigh everything, even liquids – it’s the most accurate method by far. A litre of water weighs a kilo, ergo, 1ml = 1gram. In a laboratory setting the fact that water, oil and, say, milk, have different specific gravities matters. In the kitchen it does not. We’re talking minuscule differences which will affect the final product not one iota.
So, put the mixer bowl on the scale and hit the Tare (or zero), button. Weigh the flours and put the bowl on the mixer.
Repeat the process with the jug and weigh the warm water. Then the oil and vinegar. The latter is to retard mould. You won’t taste it once the bread is baked
Put the scales away, you’re done.
Make the starter.
Add the salt and half-teaspoon of yeast to the flours, and mix well.
Once the starter has a thick, creamy, head – think Guinness – stir well and pour into the mixer bowl, along with the oil and vinegar.
Mix briefly on Min, scraping down the flour as needed, then increase the speed to 2 and run until the dough forms a mass around the dough hook and comes cleanly away from the bowl.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead once or twice by hand, shape into a ball, put on a sheet of lightly floured baking parchment, cover with clingfilm and a clean tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size. Don’t over-prove – bigger is NOT better.
Once doubled, turn onto the work surface, lightly floured again, and knock back. There is no need to knead again at this point, just roll up, shape into a bloomer, re-flour the parchment, put the dough back on it, cover with clingfilm and the towel and leave to rise.
Keep an eye on it and, when almost there, fire up the oven and preheat to its maximum temperature. If, like me, you bake on a stone, do make sure it’s in the oven, on the middle shelf is usual, but see my comment below.
Once the loaf has reached the size you want – again, about double – dust the top with flour,** slash with a very sharp knife, and then cut away most of the parchment from around the loaf and, sliding a peel*** under what’s left, slip the loaf onto the stone and close the door gently (I’ve read that slamming the door can cause the dough to collapse – no idea if it’s true but why take chances?).
**This is purely cosmetic, but I’ve found it makes slashing easier as the dough doesn’t cling to the blade.
***If you don’t have a peel, use a baking sheet.
DO NOT FORGET TO REDUCE THE TEMPERATURE TO 200C!
I have – it’s not fun.
On the shelf below the loaf I have a baking tray into which I pour about half a pint of boiling water – the steam helps crust development and oven spring.
Bake for 35 minutes or so, depending on your oven (mine takes exactly 35 minutes, in a fan oven, one shelf up from the bottom. Sounds odd, I know, but experience has shown that for this oven, that’s the best place. Never be afraid to experiment if standard instructions don’t work for your equipment.
Remove to a cooling rack.
And you’re done.
And, any newbies out there, if you follow this to the letter, this is the end result. By preheating to the max, and using a stone (just a basic, 15-quid pizza stone), you get excellent oven spring, by which I mean the excess of heat in the oven and in the stone, causes the gas in the dough to expand rapidly as soon as it goes in (once the crust forms, that’s as big as your loaf gets, so all expansion has to happen early or not at all). And that’s why you slash it – to give it room to expand. The loaf that came out is twice the size of the one that went in.