It really does boggle my mind when people refer to bread as nothing more than an everyday staple, for you see when you bake it yourself, nothing could be further from the truth. Creating a home baked loaf is therapy from start to finish, a completely artisan process with so many subtle nuances of flavour and texture that the process really shouldn't be as straightforward as it is. I love love love baking bread and it is by far one of my very favourite things to bake. I can only recommend you have a go for yourself...
Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus some proving time)
Baking time: 45 Mins
350ml Tepid Water
20g Fresh Yeast
Big Pinch of Sugar
410g Wholemeal Flour (Plus a little extra to dust)
100g Strong White Bread Flour
200g Potato (Baked, mashed and cooled)
Big pinch of Salt
1tbsp of Caraway Seeds (Plus a pinch)
Time to bake! Pour the water into a large mixing bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast and add the sugar. Mix to blend the yeast, then add both flours, potato and salt. Grind the 1tbsp of caraway seeds, add to the other ingredients and mix to loosely combine. Tip out onto a floured surface and bring the mixture together to a dough. Knead the dough, pulling one end from the other, folding back on itself, turning by a quarter and repeating. The dough will start quite sticky but will come together as your work it. You can dust the surface as you go but try not to add too much or the dough will be too firm and dry. After around 8-10 minutes of kneading the dough should be relatively smooth and elastic, so at this stage dust all over with flour. Place in a large clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 75-85 minutes, until doubled in size.
When the dough has risen tip out onto a clean, floured surface. Give it a brief knead, treating the dough like a clock face and folding each hour into the centre to knock the air out. Shape into a loaf and place on a floured baking sheet. Cover with another large bowl, tub or container (I use a large upturned plastic cake container), and leave at room temperature for another 30 minutes to rise. At the same time preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
Uncover the risen dough, dust with a little more wholemeal flour and sprinkle with a few caraway seeds. You can also slash once with a razor or sharp knife to give a nice finish to the crust, but it's not essential. Place the dough in the centre of the oven and bake for around 45 minutes, until a deep dark brown and firm when you tap on the bottom. When you are happy the bread is baked remove from the oven and transfer to a chopping board. If you like a soft crust you can cover with a clean tea towel for 10-15 minutes, but if you like your bread crusty your work is complete. Huzzah!