what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the tag “rye”

Black pepper rye bread – Dan Lepard recipe

I’m killing time with baking things I like because I’ll be getting on with other things like preparing for the LondonSurrey 100 mile bike ride if the weather ever gets better. Today is a rest day because I did 50 miles yesterday.

Back to Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet book and an interesting loaf with a bit of a punch to it, the black pepper rye bread. Black pepper, and in my case fennel seeds, he gives you the choice of fennel, anise or caraway, are added to the mixture, and it’s all topped off with poppy seeds.

I have tried this once before and found that heating the coffee and the rye to boiling point means you get a really tough mixture and it doesn’t work too well. The good people over on The Fresh Loaf solved the problem years ago, which will teach me not to do the Googling before I get it wrong. Anyway, the recipe says “heat half the rye flour and the coffee until just reaching boiling”. DO NOT DO THIS. If it gets too hot and the mixture boils and is like polenta you’ve gone too far and you will need more water when you add the other flours, up to 75ml seems to be the quantity required. At least now I have the confidence to fix it when it’s gone wrong. If I did it again I think I might just use hot coffee and bypass the boiling bit. No-one seems entirely sure why you do it. I used fresh yeast rather than fast action yeast. I used milk instead of egg wash and slashed after I’d put on the poppy seeds.

Results – quite peppery, and browner than the book suggests. I used Bacheldre Watermill rye, maybe a light rye would not be so dark. It would be great with soft creamy cheese and/or smoked salmon as suggested by Dan.

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Paul Hollywood’s rye, ale and oat bread

The second of my Paul Hollywood bakes this week is the rye, ale and oat bread from the first programme.

For beginners this might look a bit scary. It’s mainly rye flour, and its got treacle and some ale in it. Rye flour doesn’t have much gluten in it so it is never going to be a bright and bouncy loaf. If you like bread with a bit of heft to it, this is one for you. There’s a lot of different brands of rye available these days. I’m using Bacheldre watermill flour, which is available in some supermarkets.

I’m also using fresh yeast as I do find it more reliable than packet yeast. A quick word on fresh yeast, it is available from all the supermarkets that have instore bakeries, sometimes I get charged 1p for a little bit that’ll last a week, sometimes 10p, and some charge proper money (Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are about 60p for 200g). Don’t be shy if you want to try, just say the magic words “can I have some fresh yeast please” at the bit where you can get your store-bought bread sliced and see what they give you. Other sources of retail may include wholefood shops (not to be confused with healthfood shops which are nothing of the sort) and local bakeries that bake on site, although you’ll be taking custom away from them if you bake a lot of your own bread so buy something while you are there.  Weight-wise, just use twice the weight or volume of fresh yeast to dried yeast, so two teaspoons where one is given or 20g for 10g as in the case of this recipe. And I’ve cut down on the salt, as mentioned previously I think 10g is probably twice what you need.

In the programme I think Paul mentioned making bread with ale or barm is a very old technique, and where we get the word ‘barmy’ – in the sense of mad, crazy and frothy. This loaf doesn’t use leaven with the ale so isn’t really all that old-fashioned.  There’s quite a discussion about barm and the place of malt and hops in making bread in times before commercial yeast became available in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf. Commercial yeast was created to make bread making more standardised and less prone to natural changes in the starters that bakers used. There’s also  a recipe for barm bread using a barm made from beer or ale, flour and leaven which I’ll have a look at when I’ve got a new batch of leaven established. So, because Paul’s loaf uses commercial yeast it isn’t really a barm, but hopefully it will taste good. I’m using Black Sheep Golden Sheep pale ale today as it was all we had apart from a chocolate porter, which I think I’ve reserved for something else.

For this loaf I did diverge from the recommendation to knead for 5-10 minutes. It was a very wet and sticky mix so I used the Dan Lepard approach of mix, leave for 10 mins, knead very briefly, leave 15 mins, knead briefly, and finally left for 30 mins and kneaded very quickly. My kitchen is baltic today due to the cold weather, being east facing and taking the brunt of the east wind. So I left it for about an hour and a half after that lot. It had risen quite well despite the cold. I made up the beer batter topping, and it was rather a lot so I think if I did it again I’d only make a half quantity. Then it was left to sit for an hour and a half while I did the typing above and pictures below.

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It was then left to prove for a further one and a half hours. And was rising well during that time. I also had to patch up the coating while it was rising as it strted to split a little, so just as well I didn’t throw out the spare coating mix. So how did it turn out? There was certainly some anxious pacing outside the oven as it started baking.


Got a bit of a rise there, the cracks opened up. And now waiting for it to cool down so we can cut it up and have it for tea with some cheese.


[Edit the next day] I don’t think Mr Hollywood got more of a rise out of it than that, it is quite dense but is very tasty. And I’d probably make it again if I were making a buffet lunch with a range of breads on offer.

Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer

First of all, it’s my blog’s birthday. what?bread? is one year old today. Thank you to everyone who’s ever taken a peak and I hope you’ve found what you’ve come looking for. If not, please leave a message or ask a question.

This month is going well and I hope to continue for another year at least! The public image of baking has gone from strength to strength this year with the rise of the Great British Bake Off and most recently the spin-off programme with Paul Hollywood.

The BBC has kindly asked the Silver Fox of Great British Bake-Off to put his money where his mouth his and make some programmes to show viewers how to make bread. If you’ve not seen the first episode, you can catch it on BBC i-player.

The first episode starts with a bloomer, followed swiftly by a ploughman’s loaf (lots of lovely brown flour and rye and oat topping), a malt loaf (versatile and could be made into a sort of bread and butter pudding), and a ‘trencher’ to use as a base for some lamb steaks and greenery. That’s all squeezed into half an hour alongside a nice look at a farmer and a miller who have a great working relationship near St Albans at Redbournbury.

I found it all quite exhausting to watch as Paul got stuck in to mixing and kneading, and boy does he knead strong, sometimes one in each hand! To the extent that I stopped watching what he was doing and started taking in the aesthetics of his kitchen and the slightly bonkers range of mixing bowls he had to use. It looked like the set designer had been given the run of John Lewis and got one of every type of bowl that looked like it would hold water. So the bloomer was mixed in a wooden bowl that looked like a salad bowl, then there’s a pyrex bowl for it to rise in, the ploughman’s loaf is made at the bakery at Redbournbury and is mixed in whatever they had, then back to Paul’s own kitchen for a nice white glazed bowl for the malt loaf, and then a blue coated steel bowl for the trencher.

However, that all sounds a bit mean, and you can find other reviews of the programme on the web.

So what about the bread? Well you can get the recipes online from the BBC, which is really what I pay my license fee for. I think they’ve tried to make the ingredients nice and simple, which is good, and so far only using instant yeast. They don’t give conversions for fresh yeast, so if you try them you’ll have to remember that you need approximately double the weight of fresh yeast.

One thing did strike me as not being quite as it should be and that was the amount of salt that is used. The basic bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty. If your palate is used to store-bought bread you’ll probably find it too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

I’ve written another blog about salt in bread to give a bit more information. Click here.

Also Paul’s recipe has approximately twice the amount of yeast you’ll usually find in recipes for baking white bread at home, so it rises quickly even though he says to use cold water. If your kitchen is quite warm and your water isn’t too cold it’ll probably go off like a rocket and you’ll get a good result. All of this mitigates against leaving the dough to rise slowly to enhance the flavour. The recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in it’s own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

So last night, in between other things, I made a loaf strictly according the Paul Hollywood method, including muscular kneading, and another by the Dan Lepard method. I really should have started the Dan Lepard loaf first, but didn’t think ahead enough to do that. Both turned out OK. The Paul Hollywood bloomer rose a lot and has a nice open soft crumb. The Dan loaf didn’t want to rise too fast, I think the kitchen was a bit cold, or maybe the packet yeast was a bit old, and in the end I had to bake it because it was getting late, it did spring quite well in the oven but didn’t get as large as the Paul Hollywood version.

I’ve had lots of people searching for the bloomer and problems and ending up on my blog so there’s a ‘trouble shooting’ page here too.

I’ll be trying the other recipes when I get the chance, in the meantime, if you want to give it go, do go ahead but go easy on the salt.

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Paul Hollywood Bloomer followed by a Dan Lepard style Bloomer


light caraway rye bread

The second of June’s Mellow Bakers recipe from Dan Lepard’ The Handmade Loaf (congratulations on yesterday by the way Mr Lepard and David!) http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/22/coconut-mascarpone-cake-recipe-wedding?newsfeed=true

One where you make a ferment and leave it for a bit, then add the other stuff and make yet another brick!

Ingredients include: sour milk – didn’t have any of that so used sour cream, yeast, rye flour, caraway seeds, white flour, salt more yeast, malt – used the liquid “Roo strengthening medicine” type although I think you’re supposed to use some dried stuff, butter to slap on the top and that’s your lot.

Actually I think I need to get another loaf pan that is between a 1lb and a 2lb length and that might impact on the brickiness of some of these loaves. Output tasted OK and got eaten which is always a good thing. I used heavy rye and have been waiting to try again with light rye but got bored of waiting for an opportunity, so here’s the photos.  Today I have been baking with Einkhorn flour and that’s another story!

wholegrain rye bread

This is the third in the Mellow Baker’s selection for May 2012 from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf.

Contents: water, rye leaven, fresh yeast, soaked and cooked rye grains, salt, light rye flour.

Being a natural sceptic I only used half the ingredients that the book suggested, just to see how it went. I diverged from the recipe also by just cooking the grains and soaking them in the cooking liquid, maybe they would take on something from some ale as suggested in the book. It also took forever to rise on Sunday, which was not a warm day, so rather than the 2 and half hours suggested, it was in the kitchen for about 5 or 6 before I gave in and put it in the oven. Also, I couldn’t find a brown paper bag, so it has been in some baking parchment snuggled up in the bread bin.

Actually, it went OK, but it does still look a lot like a mesopotamian mud brick. It smells a bit like pumpernickle, which it obviously shares ingredients with, and would go well with strong tasting things as suggested like stinky french cheese.

Here’s the pictures:

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