It seems I spend a awful lot of time baking bread these days, who can blame me, it is so therapeutic, but I mainly keep it up as I prefer to know what is in my food rather than buying ready sliced shop bread full of preservatives to ensure a long shelf life. I usually have three or four different loafs sliced and well wrapped in the freezer ready to use at any time.
I eventually stumbled across rye flour which it seems is scarily hard to find around here....well it was, funnily enough as soon as I tracked it down in a health food store I noticed that Asda had stocked it all along.
I prefer to make healthier loafs using wholemeal flours and adding seeds or grains, every little helps after all. As soon as I spotted the rye flour I knew what I was going to bake, Finnish rye bread from Nigella's How to be a domestic goddess. Nigella describes this bread as dense, dark and aromatic in a extraordinarily comforting way, she isn't wrong. I couldn't stop myself from eating this rustic bread, it is wonderful, I served it along side ham and pea soup, it is perfect for mopping up soup.
Finnish rye bread from How to be a domestic goddess.
225g rye flour
300g strong white flour
7g easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp salt
300ml warm water
45g unsalted butter, melted
1 baking sheet.
Put the flours, yeast, sugar and salt into a large bowl and slowly add the water, mixing with your hands or a wooden spoon, until you've got a messy but vaguely cohesive lump of dough. Add a tablespoon of the melted butter and mix just to incorporate it. Start kneading, either by hand or with a dough hook, until the dough comes together smoothly to form a dense ball, adding more water or flour as necessary.
Use some more of the melted butter to grease a bowl and turn the dough ball in it so that the top is oily (and won't therefore dry out), then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for a hour or so.
When the dough's doubled in size, punch it down. Give a good few kneads, and then form into a round loaf. Sit the loaf on the baking sheet, cover it with a tea towel and leave to get puffy for about 30 minutes, during which time preheat the oven to 190c/ gas mark 5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the loaf is cooked through.
Brush with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and leave on a wire rack to cool.
I forgot to brush the remaining butter over the top of the cooked loaf, I found the melted butter on top of the microwave a hour after I had cut into the bread. I don't think it suffered for it. This bread kept very well, it made great toast the next day.
I used leftover bread we had to make croutons. I cut the bread into cubes, drizzled with olive oil
and salt and pepper and baked for 10 minutes,they were the best croutons ever.