BY REDUCING the amount of yeast, you can leave bread to rise for longer. With this recipe you can plan your loaf round the evening’s viewing or whatever else you may be up to.
I kneaded this a few short times in between watching television on a Friday night, left it to rise overnight and then baked it first thing in the morning, fresh for Saturday brunch or lunch.
The country crunch comes from using granary-style flour. Other flours will work too, but this is particularly good. I’ve upped the moisture content a little, so it’s a sticky dough giving a moist loaf.
1kg country-style flour
6 or 7g fresh yeast (or slightly less of the easy-blend dried variety)
15g fine salt
650ml warm water
Generous splash or two of olive oil.
Bring all the ingredients together in a large bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave for ten minutes. Knead briefly (in the bowl if you wish) and leave for ten minutes; knead briefly again and leave for 20 minutes; then give one final quick knead before covering bowl with clingfilm. Leave out at room temperature or in the fridge in very warm weather.
In the morning, let the dough warm up if it’s been in the fridge. Knead lightly, divide into two pieces, shape and place in greased and floured bread tins or on baking trays covered in grease-proof paper. Leave to rise for 20 minutes then heat oven to 200C/gas mark 6 for ten minutes or so.
Slash loaves if you wish and then bake at this temperature for 15 minutes, reducing oven to 180C or so (know your oven) for 20 minutes or so. Check to see if done and return un-tinned loaves to the oven for a few minutes if they don’t sound hollow when tapped (this can be a tricky guide but does help).
Leave to cool on wire trays. Good eaten fresh.