Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm getting to terms with my new oven, and this is about the best loaf I've yet made in it. However ...

The first thing i decided was to use less rye flour than I've tended to use recently. I love the taste, but it has relatively low gluten so you're never going to get a very light bread. I noticed that flours like Dove's Farm Malthouse have around 3.6% rye flour so I aimed for 5%. I slightly overdid it, giving the following quantities:

400g strong white flour
30g wholemeal rye flour
4g salt

250g water
5g active dried yeast
half a teaspoon honey

I tried the folding method, which some people recommend over traditional kneading. After mixing the ingredients, and autolysing for 20 minutes or so, you flatten the dough out, fold it in three, like folding an A4 letter, rotate 90 degrees and repeat five or six times. You do this (or rather, I did this) five times during the initial rising, and once more before proofing. The feel of the dough was at least as good as if I had kneaded it in the usual way, so it was encouraging.

Before proofing, I rolled the dough in poppy seeds.

Then to face the oven. I've accepted the fact that I need to use the full force of the oven - 240C (reducing to 215 ish after 15 mins), but I've also decided that it's a good idea to turn off the air circulation. The only way to do this is to turn off the oven's electricity supply after it's lit, and the unfortunate thing is that this means the oven light goes out too. I also used steam by pouring a cup of water into a baking tray beneath the bread.

Here's the result. The loaf is rather unevenly cooked, probably because of the lack of air circulation, so I should have turned it I suppose. But at its best, this has a proper crust, better than any I've had recently.

Here's the however, however. I haven't shown the inside of the bread because there was a clear split between two layers, a vestige of the folding process. It wasn't fatal, but did mean the slices were in danger of falling apart. Maybe the surface of the dough dried a bit during the rising, and it would be helpful to spray water on it?

Never mind, it's lovely bread. The rye flavour is very faint, but the poppy seeds punched well above their weight.

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