Step 1: You will need….
- to make the pre ferment:
- 130 g all purpose flour
- 130 g rye flour
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 280 ml water
- to make the dough:
- 260 g all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp caraway or any other seed
- 1 tsp caramel, coffee or cocoa to colour
- 60 g butter milk or yoghurt
- flour for dusting
- 3 medium sized bowls
- 1 loaf pan
- 1 brush
- 1 tea towel
- 1 plastic bag
- 1 spray bottle
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 electric mixer with hook attachment
Step 2: Make the pre ferment
The pre ferment controls the fermentation and flavour of your bread and is also called the 'sponge'. To make it, mix the all-purpose flour and the rye flour in a bowl. Add the instant yeast and water and stir slowly into a smooth mixture. If you stretch the mixture from the sides of the bowl with a spoon you will see threads of agglutination. Cover it with a clean tea towel and set it aside, at room temperature to prove - or rise - for roughly 3 hours. It will bubble as the yeast ferments and then double in volumed. Do not leave longer than this or the pre ferment may collapse in on itself.
Alternatively, you can cover it with a plastic bag and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Step 3: Make the dough
Put the all-purpose flour into the mixer bowl. Add the brown sugar, salt, instant yeast, caraway seeds and the caramel. This gives the bread its distinctive, dark colour. Then add the buttermilk or yoghurt and finally all of the combined pre ferment mixture. Switch on the machine and knead the dough for 10 minutes, until it becomes fully incorporated into a smooth, elastic, ball of dough. If the dough is wet you can add a pinch of flour to the mixer, this will soak up excess moisture without ruining the dough. You can also do this by hand if you don't have a machine but it will take about 8 -10 minutes.
TOP TIP! You may want to add other goodies to the mixture. Try olives or walnuts; but remember that if the goodies you add are at all moist - use a little less water in the pre ferment.
Step 4: Allow the dough to double
Once kneaded, place the dough into the medium bowl. Cover it entirely with a clean plastic bag and set it aside at room temperature for roughly 2 hours to expand to roughly double its size.
Step 5: Punch the dough
Once the dough has doubled, let some of the air in it escape. Do this by punching the dough with your knuckles. This process divides the air pockets, and evens out the temperature and moisture. You may only have to punch it once or twice, as it will deflate very quickly.
Step 6: Mould into log shape
Next, shape the dough into a log shape and transfer it into your loaf pan. If shaping it has caused a seam, make sure the seam is at the bottom of the dough. Cover it once more with the same plastic bag. Set it aside at room temperature for 1.5 hours, to prove again. From this stage it is important that no more air is knocked out of the dough, so handle it gently.
Step 7: Preheat the oven
Set the oven to 220ºC (430ºF/ gas mark 7). It is important that the oven reaches this temperature before you put the loaf in, or it won't bake properly.
Step 8: Bake
Gently place your loaf pan into the centre of the oven. Spray or flick a little water onto the sides of the oven to create steam. This will enhance the texture of the crust. Bake for 15 minutes before turning down the oven to 180ºC (350ºF/ gas mark 4). Then bake for a further 35 minutes.
Step 9: Remove from the oven
Take the bread out of the oven, turn the loaf pan upside down and release the freshly baked bread onto a clean surface. To check to see if the bread is thoroughly baked tap the bottom of the loaf. If it has a hollow sound, it is done. If not, place it back in the oven, for a few more minutes, as the bread is still too doughy.
Step 10: Serve
When it's done, leave the loaf to rest on a rack for at least 30 minutes. Then slice and enjoy.