Farmhouse Loaf

Although sourdoughs are my passion when it comes to bread-making, I do like a full-flavoured “standard” bread. This has an open crumb, a light springy texture and is perfect toasted.

This bread is also so simple to make, needing very little attention, and minimal shaping & dough handling skills. Once the dough has been kneaded, which can be done in the food mixer with the dough hook attachment, you simply let it do its own thing (slowly ferment and rise) while I get on and do my own thing!

Getting the best flavour into bread

For maximum flavour I reduce the yeast and prove the dough overnight in the fridge for its first rise. I use cold tap water so that the yeast does not activate immediatly, thereby allowing it rise very gently.

For a more rushed bread, increase the yeast to about 9g, use warm water and prove/rise in a warm place – as indeed many books recommend. Now this certainly gives bread that beats shop-bought bread, and costs mere pennies to make, but when you have tasted a loaf that has risen very slowly compared to one that is hurried along, you will be staggered at the greater depth of flavour in the former loaf: failing to come up with a really suitable anaology, I suppose it is like the difference between a high quality brand of dark chocolate and a supermarket’s budget bar (mind you, each has its rightful place!).

The rye flour is not essential but I love the flavour this small proportion of rye flour adds. If not using rye flour, replace it with the same amount of strong white flour, wholemeal flour or flour of choice.

Recipe: farmhouse loaf – makes one very large loaf or two medium-large loaves

  • 750g organic strong white flour, plus a little extra for dusting over
  • 150g rye flour
  • 4g easy-blend dried yeast
  • 15g fine sea salt
  • approx. 600-700ml tap water
  1. Mix the flours together and stir in the salt. Add the yeast and mix in. Make a well in the centre and add enough of the water until a soft dough is formed – add more water if needed.
  2. Knead well for 10-15 minutes until smooth, almost silky, and stretchy. This is perfect in a machine with the dough hook attached, setting it to medium. Place back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise overnight in the fridge.
  3. The following day turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Cut into two pieces and place in two well oiled 2lb loaf tins. Alternatively place the entire dough in a very large (4lb) loaf tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise at room temperature until the dough domes a little above the tin. You can slash the bread once risen or leave as it is. Dust lightly with flour.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated oven (220C) for about 15 minutes and then turn down temperature to 200C and bake for a further 25-35 minutes until golden brown for the 2lb loaves or 40-50 minutes for the larger loaf. To test, remove the loaf from its tin and tap the bottom – it should sound hollow. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
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4 comments

  1. Linda Stockwell · ·

    Philip, I wonder if I could ask for your advice. I have often tried bread making and never been hugely satisfied with the result. Your farmhouse loaf with it’s overnight rise appealed enormously. I kneaded the dough in my Kenwood for 6 minutes using 600 ml of water and it looked and felt just right. However, the cooked result, despite looking very good with a nice even crumb, has a rubbery texture and the slices dried out very quickly. I have failed again, where do you think I went wrong?

    Linda

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    1. hi Linda,
      I am sorry the bread didn’t turn out as you wanted, although getting a good look and a nice crumb suggests you are practically there. For a rubbery bread, I can only think that the dough was overkneaded (although 6 mins in the Kenwood shouldn’t result in over-kneading unless possibly was on its highest setting). I know that on occasions that I have over-kneaded I have a slightly rubbery feel to the bread.

      It might also be a matter of not having enough water, especially as different flours have different water absorption rates. Did the dough rise enough?

      Regarding the drying out, add some melted butter or olive oil to the dough with the water: about 40g will be enough here to help it keep a little longer, I don’t often add fat here as the bread gets polished off too quickly for it to go dry!

      I have had loads of batches of bread that didn’t work for me for one reason or another so I know how off-putting it can be, but don’t let the bread defeat you

      Regards,
      Philip

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      1. Linda Stockwell · ·

        Thank you for your reply Philip. I mixed on medium speed and the rise was good. I am definitely going to try the recipe again – a little less speed, a little more water, fingers crossed.

        Linda

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      2. A pleasure to try to help, Linda. All the best with the next batch which I am sure will be perfect

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