Making bread must be one of the most satisfying of all baking in the world, well…, for me at least. I could make, knead bread all day long, everyday.
I love making it, baking it, I love the smell of it and of course I love eating it.
Again it must be something haunting me from my childhood times because my both grandmothers used to bake the most amazing breads; all types and some of those were specific for Easter and Christmas times.
So, for me bread baking is such an unique affair, it fulfills all my senses, especially the one of satisfaction.
What can be better than that smell of baking bread produces and seeing a nice loaf of bread?! To me, it brings memories of my happy childhood when we used to play around grandma’s house, a good few acres of land that we used to run around and then the smell of baking was bursting out from her kitchen spreading around in no time hitting our noses. It was heaven! Heaven in granny’s garden, making us wonder and ask ourselves every time “Mmmmh!….what is grandma preparing for us?!”
Ah, all those times were the best and I really love remembering and bringing these memories back as they are just nostalgic battery re-fillers that refills my soul with pure joy and happiness.
I really want to carry that and take further passing it on to my children so maybe one day they will feel the same with the slight difference that there are no acres of land to run around and that is not their grandmother but their mother instead 😉 ??
Making bread it’s not the easiest thing but it’s not hard either, can be a little bit more laborious but hey, it is very satisfying when you see that bread coming out of the oven.
Generally it is nice to see that people nowadays do get a lot more health conscious and opt for healthier options and bread is one of those that you can really have a wide variety to choose from, especially nowadays.
I do use a lot of low glutenous flours such as buckwheat, rye or spelt flour which is one of my favorites in fact. I like spelt mainly because I find that it is a lot better tolerated by my digestive system and I think this is a generality that applies to many digestive systems on most people.
It is really good for us to go for breads that are high in fibre and any wholemeal, spelt and/or rye bread are a superb option. I have to say that I almost stopped buying white flour for a good couple of years now using a lot healthier options in my baking or cooking. Oh, yes, I do get a pack of white flour when making some naughty doughnuts although even for those I replace the white flour with a healthier option.
My love for rye bread and all of this dark shaded or speckled with grains breads must be coming from travelling to Scandinavian countries and Germany as they do have the best breads in the world without any shadow of a doubt.
Generally rye bread is a mixture of rye and wheat flour (normally a 2:1 ratio) but this time I have made this using rye and spelt flour at a ratio of 4:1 and I have mixed some ground flaxseeds for even more goodness.
Rye sourdough is truly delicious especially when you pair it with a mature cheese or any smoked fish, because of its sweet and slighhty nutty flavor. Some pros choose to make sourdough rye bread over five days or so but I find that crazy and totally unnecessary. Yes, rye bread and spelt flour are naturally low in gluten levels, hence this does not rise like a white flour or any glutinous flour would.
I agree that the longer you leave it the sweeter it will get because the starch converts into sugar but as I said, I don’t find that necessary at all. It is still so delicious without having to leave it 5 days around the kitchen or in the fridge. I occasionally leave it overnight but I did not find much difference neither in taste nor texture so, what is the point I have asked myself.
This could be the very reason why perhaps many people are put off baking a good loaf of bread because of the time they think could be spent to make a sourdough bread.
But let me tell you the good news!! It takes a max of 8 hours to make this bread and I will tell you exactly how I do mine and it is absolutely delicious every time I make it.
Kneading the dough is very important. I know that rye bread has little gluten to develop but I think it’s definitely worth putting the effort and kneading it properly for quite some time, rather than simply mixing the ingredients as some recipes say.
Step by step, I will take you through the ‘process’ of making a perfect loaf of rye bread and I can assure you that it requires nothing more than following these steps carefully and gracefully.
Make sure you buy a good quality stoneground rye flour. I hardly ever consider any flour that isn’t organic but that’s me being a little peculiar and a true lover of organic produce.
Steps to follow for the best rye loaf bread making – see detailed ones in recipe notes.
I will have the recipe and the ingredients listed in a short while, but before that, make sure you have all ingredients ready and prepared for use.
Following the fist step of having the active yeast mixed with 2 tsp sugar is pretty crucial.
So, you either do it this way or simply have it all well mixed into a mug and then poured into the well. It is entirely up to you.
About 15-20 minutes later, you should have this big bubble of fermented yeast. The sugar and the warm water really help speed this up tremendously.
After 5-6 hours, the dough will be looking like this.
The only trick here is to keep it either in the sun for extra warmth or just near a heat sauce. It needs to be kept in a warm or sunny spot covered with a nice and clean table cloth. Some people put it in the oven at low temperature (30 C or below) to speed up the process.
The dough forms a little crust on top, but that’s OK and totally normal so don’t panic.
Here is the recipe so let’s get kneading: get your dukes out and be prepared to do some nice punching! The nice thing is that the punching goes one way only and you are not receiving any dukes back ;-))))
Rye ground linseed bread
- 1 kg rye flour
- 250 g spelt flour (light)
- 250 ml water (lukewarm)
- 200 ml butter milk
- 100 g linseed (crushed/ground)
- 18 g dry yeast (fast action yeast is best)
- 2 tsp himalayan salt (or sea salt, or kosher salt)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4-5 tbsp olive oil
In a large bowl mix in the flours, sprinkle the salt more towards the edges. Form a well in the middle. Make sure salt is not sprinkled in this well.
In a cup/mug mix the yeast with the sugar and pour 100 ml lukewarm water. Mix well until both sugar and yeast dissolve. You could leave it in the cup or pour it in the well formed in the flour. I recommend the latter as leaving it in the cup requires that you keep an eye on it as it will overflow so, best is to pour it in and set aside for around 20 minutes.
Once the yeast has become all a big bubble start kneading the bread. Pour the remainder of the water and the buttermilk and the crushed linseed. Mix very well and knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hand. This will probably take 4-5 min or so.
Gradually add the olive oil while still kneading. Feel free with punching, slapping, stretching, whatever you feel like doing with it but as I said the low gloutenous flours do not require that much working but maybe half the time (5-6min instead of 10-12 min what would be needed for a higher gluten flour).
When finished, smooth the surface into a big ball and cover.
Allow to prove for as many hours as you fancy. I normally leave it between 4-8 hrs.
When finished with proving just put into the baking tray.
Allow to prove again for an extra hour or so and then place in the oven. Bake at 190 C for 40-50 min.
When ready, turn oven off and allow a good 20-30 min to cool.
Take out of the oven and cover with a towel for another 20-30 minutes outside the oven. Then, take out from baking tray and serve slightly warm or cold with anything you like, whether that is sweet or savoury. Simply divine! P.S. break it if you want to eat it pretty warm and only cut when it has completely cooled.
I always slice the bread and freeze it as it is likely that you won’t have it all within a day unless you put it on the table for loads of people or for a party. Otherwise, when I bake it for the four of us only, I do freeze it (sliced and arranged nicely in freezer bags) a few hours after cooling has finished.
Freeze it from fresh and, whenever you want to have a slice or two, just toast the required amount, it’s simply amazing. It tastes and feels as if it has just been freshly baked. If you choose to keep it, it has to be stored in a paper bag and has to be consumed within 3-4 days.
But, just to summarize the steps for baking bread in general, they apply in most homemade and hand-prepared bread but are not the same when you choose to machine-make the bread.
Put the flour(s) in your bowl, add the salt and the yeast mixture. Salt should not be put in the well as this can ‘kill’ the yeast. I sprinkle the salt on the upper edges of the well and not inside. Allow for the yeast reaction and then add around three-quarters of the remaining water. Use your hand or hands (it can be a little messy process to begin with) to mix all the ingredients together, incorporating all the flour and adding more water (if necessary) until you have a nice and fairly soft (not too soft though) dough. As you work the dough a little more, the messiness will disappear as the dough will not be so messy and sticky any longer, especially after adding the olive oil/butter or coconut oil.
This process can take between 5 and 12 minutes (depending on the type of flour used - the more gluten the more the stretching) until the consistency of the dough changes slightly, becoming smoother and more elastic. Eventually, it will begin to hold together a lot better and you can form a nice and pretty smooth big ball. With less glutenous flours like rye, spelt or buckweat there would be so much elasticity or smoothness that you can get out of it but I still stretch and work the dough for half the time - it is fully worth the time (around 5-6 min).
Add a bit more oil, giving the dough a nice top coat and then cover with either cling film or a clean tea towel, so it keeps the warmth as well as drying too much. It might still form a skin but that is okay. The dough will begin to rise ( quicker when higher gluten flour is used and a lot slower for low gluten ones). The rising has reached its highs when the dough gets some creases and when this may start to deflate/go down. This is the point when we need to get to the next level which is when we push the dough back.
Shaping the dough
After rising, the dough needs to be pushed or knocked back down. This will knock the air bubbles out which will make it easier to shape and work with the dough. Shape it in any way you wish, such as a plat or however you wish your bread to look.
This is the final stage and it is a really important stage that does not get skipped or rushed. After shaping the bread we must allow it to rise again just before going into the oven. Brushing it with some oil again and covering the dough with cling film during this final stage is preventing it from forming a skin. It is important that you do not allow the dough to over prove, and the way you can observe the right stage is by slightly pushing the dough down and this should bounce back. Again, on low gluten dough this will not be as obvious as on a white glutenous flour. If you get creases and cracks it means you have left it too long so you will have to reshape the dough and start the proving process again.
Baking and the cooling process
You will know the bread is ready if this has got a nice crispy crust and it is brown in colour. The easiest way to check and see if the bread is truly ready is by taking it out of the oven and by tapping it at the bottom of the metallic tray. This should sound hollow but if it doesn’t, it’s easy to guess, it’s not ready so it needs to go back in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
Once you have decided it is ready and are fully satisfied and happy with it, get it out of the oven and let it cool either in the oven (unless slightly overdone) with the oven door completely open for about 15-20 min, and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack outside the oven, for a good hour before eating.