October 1997

Topsham, Devon 20 October 1997The autumn weather continues to be up and down, but fortunately more up than down: the cold snap of last week was replaced with a return of the Indian summer, so we were all back in shorts again, and messing about on the Exe in dinghies, a most welcome prolongation to the season before the onset of darkness and despair (the clocks go back next Sunday, always a depressing time for us). Today, suitably for a Monday, it is drizzly and grey, a day for staying in and baking.
Earlier this summer, we enjoyed a bread workshop at Quay Cottage with our friends Anna Evans of Real Cakes and Andrew Crump, an old mate and accomplished professional baker who works at Bread Works in Charlottesville, Virginia. We (and the kids) enjoyed a whole day of kneading and knocking back and made a selection of really fine and unusual breads. We will pass on some of Anna's recipes and breadmaking tips in due course, but in the meantime, by popular demand, here is the delightful recipe for Anna's Rye and Wholewheat Bread which we enjoyed with last week's lentil soup.

Anna's Rye and Wholewheat Bread

4 ozs. rye flour

4 ozs. stoneground organic wholewheat flour

1 lb. organic white strong bread flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil (not a strong virgin oil)

15 fluid ounces lukewarm water

First: Put the yeast, oil and warm water in a bowl, and whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Then whisk in 4 ozs. of wholewheat flour. Remove whisk and scatter the remaining flour over the liquid in the bowl to make a "blanket" of flour. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the flour. Cover the mixture tightly with cling film, and leave for about half an hour to 45 minutes, depending on room temperature - until you can see the yeasty liquid breaking through the flour. Then mix all together until a ball is formed, and the dough no longer feels sticky. Put into a large clean lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over so that the whole lump is lightly oiled. Cover tightly with cling film. Leave undisturbed until the dough has doubled in size.
Remove from the bowl and on a lightly floured surface knead the dough until it no longer "squeaks" as air is expelled. Shape the dough into loaf shape and tuck it (seam underneath) into an oiled two pound loaf tin. Cover with oiled cling film, and leave to rise again until the dough reaches the top of the tin. Then remove the cling film, and gently put the loaf into a pre-heated oven at temperature 200 celsius for 35 to 40 minutes. At the end of the baking time, turn the loaf out immediately on to a cooling rack. Test to see if it is done by rapping the underneath of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, then it is done. If not, put the loaf, minus tin, back into the oven a further five minutes, and then test again.

Recipe © Anna Evans


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