Saturday, 6 June 2015


Days off were made for baking bread. When you have the whole day to take your time working that dough and proofing it slowly and precisely you can end with a beautiful lully loaf coming out of your oven. This is exactly what I did yesterday to create this monster of a loaf using just wholemeal flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water. Then with a simple egg white wash and some steam in your oven  you can give your loaf a crispy crust to compliment its soft crumb centre. Total bread perfection!

Not much to talk about here when it comes to the ingredients. They are pretty straight forward. It's the technique that we need to discuss. As mentioned above creating a bit of steam in your oven will give your loaf an amazing crust. This is the first time I've used this technique when I've made bread but the results are clear to see. If you don't have a spare tray or oven space to house a ban Marie then it's not imperative, you just might not have as good a crust. 

Secondly I've used polenta in my recipe but this is solely for throwing on the baking paper to prevent the bread sticking. Again you don't need to do this part but just make sure you grease the paper well so you can remove the loaf easily from the paper after baking.

You will also need some warm water for your bake to get that yeast bubbling away. The ideal way to do this is to get yourself a cooking thermometer so that you can accurately heat up the water slowly in a pan on your stove to 43 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer then I suggest you do if your planning on baking bread. Accuracy is the key especially when yeast is involved so I wouldn't try to attempt baking this loaf without one unless you are some kind of bread making ninja!

Finally, pizza stones! Whenever I make bread I always take about how good pizza stones are for giving you a really crisp base. Buy one of you make a lot of bread and you'll get your money's worth. If you don't have one then a lined baking tray will suffice and if your having trouble fitting all the dough onto a smaller stone or tray you can split it in half and make two or three smaller loaves instead. Just reduce the baking time by about five minutes as they won't take as long to bake and keep an eye on them to ensure they are not burning on top.

Ready? Let's get that bread-a-baking!

Wholemeal Loaf

3 And A Half Tsp Dried Fast Action Yeast
1 Tsp Golden Caster Sugar
 750g Wholemeal Flour
2 Tsp Salt
1 Handfull Of Polenta
1 Egg White

  1.  Begin by warming up 500ml of water to 43 degrees Celsius and then quickly add in the yeast and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then leave to stand for around 5 minutes until the mixture bubbles and foams up.
  2. Add 500g of the flour into a mixer with a dough hook (or you can use large mixing bowl and wooden spoon) along with the salt and quickly mix together. Slowly pour in the foamy yeast mixture and beat until well combined. 
  3. Add in the remaining flour in batches whilst continuing tobeat until a dough ball forms that is pulling away from the side of the bowl. You may not need all the flour for this so reserve any leftover to dust the top of your loaf later.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around five minutes before shaping the dough into a ball. Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with a slightly damp tea towel and then place in a warm place for around 1 hour until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
  5. After the dough has risen, turn it back out onto the flouredsurface and knock out the air. Knead for a minute or so before shaping back into a ball and returning to the floured bowl. Recover with the tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 minutes.
  6. Take a piece of baking paper around the size of your pizza stone or baking tray and sprinkle it all over with the polenta. Turn the dough out onto the baking paper and knock the air out again. Shape the dough into a large rectangular loaf shape and then cover again with the tea towel and leave for 20 minutes.
  7. Whilst the dough rests, turn your oven on to 220 degrees (200 fan) and place a deep side roasting tin filled with water in the bottom of your oven to create steam. Place another rack in the middle of the oven and place your pizza stone on here.
  8. After it has rested, remove the tea towel from the dough and brush it all over with the egg white and slash it three times across the top with a knife about 1cm deep. Sprinkle over any a bit of leftover flour if you have any and then transfer the loaf on the baking paper onto the pizza stone in the oven. 
  9. Bake the loaf for around 35/45 minutes until golden brown on the top and so that it sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
Cut through that crispy crust and reveal the fluffy warm insides and then do yourself a favor! Slather a slice with some butter and just take a bite. There can be no better taste in the world than a slice of home baked bread you have made yourself. Make yourself some beautiful butties for lunch, use it for grilled cheese or for mopping up any leftover sauce on your dinner plate. It's an almighty sized loaf so you will have plenty to go around. Your well going to be baking yourself one of these every weekend. 

That is the wonder of the "Whoppin' Wholemeal Loaf"!

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