Wholemeal bread – basic, no mucking around bread

I have recently got into baking bread in a big way this year. I find it a relaxing weekend afternoon activity with the added bonus that my house is filled with the wonderful aroma of fresh bread. In addition I love that you can make a delicious loaf for a fraction of the price that you would pay for something similar inan upmarket bakery or deli.

For some reason this loaf works really well with saltier foods such as ham, smoked salmon or tuna and for this reason I tend to top it with herbs or sea salt crystals. However, I also occasionally (or more than occasionally) enjoy eating this with Nutella. For some reason the combination of chocolatey spread and salt works.

To make your own wholemeal loaf you will need

400g wholemeal bread flour – plus a bit extra for dusting

100g white bread flour

1 sachet fast action yeast

10g sea salt

40g butter

320ml lukewarm water

Olive oil

Optional

Extra sea salt, pepper or any fresh or dried herbs of your choice

Put the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl with the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Add 3/4 of the water and start to mix the dough with your fingers. Keep adding the water until all the flour comes away from the side of the bowl. You’re aiming for soft dough, if you need to add more water do so, but be conservative as you don’t want soggy dough.

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A hideously unflattering photo of my arm

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Add a light coating of olive oil to your work surface. Turn your dough out on the surface and knead for about 10 minutes until your dough is smooth. Dough kneading time is prime Sunday afternoon daydreaming time. Once your dough is smooth put in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for at least an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

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Knock your dough back and roll it into a fat sausage shape, around 30cm long. Tie the dough into a knot and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Leave to prove for another hour.

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My sausage looks strangely like a manatee

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Preheat your oven to 220°C and heat a baking tray in the bottom so your bread can be heated from below as well as above.

Rub the dough all over with the extra flour and whatever you want to adorn your bread with. Bake for 30 minutes until your loaf sounds hollow (like you’re tapping on a table I suppose).

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Allow to cool before eating. Serve your freshest slice with really good butter. You shouldn’t need anything else.

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