Easy Seed Loaf

Back to basics this week with my go-to loaf recipe and a few of my bread tips.

This crusty loaf involves very little effort and is very easy to change up the flavours.

I like to use a mixture of different wholegrain, spelt or rye flours each time I make it. It can get a little bit technical with how much liquid different types of flour needs, so it's good to stick with at least 50% strong white flour.

Then I add whatever seeds and nuts I have lurking around my cupboards. Maybe even some strong grated cheddar, olives or sundried tomatoes.

Although mostly I like to use a dough hook on my stand mixer, I do love the feel of kneading dough. It's a good Sunday morning job...the one where you can get away with popping out for Sunday lunch whilst the loaf proves!

Firstly, give the dough a few light kneads to mix all the ingredients together and after a 10 minute rest you'll get a stretchy dough like you've just kneaded it for all that time. This gives time for the flour to absorb all the water. Alternatively, leave it covered in a fridge overnight for the same effect. I like to stick to the 10 minute rule, not 10 minutes of kneading, but a series of quick and gentle kneads followed by 10 minute rests.

After the first rise, the loaf should have risen by half its size. After shaping and the second rise, it should have risen by another half. If it's doubled, or doesn't bounce back when you gently prod it with a finger then the loaf has risen too much and will be heavier and more crumbly in texture. To compensate for this, bake in the hottest you can get your oven for the first 20 minutes before reducing back to 220 degrees.

It's important to slash the top of the loaf before baking in order for heat to escape. Otherwise it'll find another exit route in a less pretty place. Once the crust is golden and loaf baked, remove from the oven and place the loaf out of its tray/tin straight onto a wire rack to cool to allow air to circulate around it.

Easy seeded loaf
     200g strong white flour, plus extra for shaping and dusting
     150g wholegrain spelt flour
     50g rye flour
     1 teaspoon fast action yeast
     1 teaspoon fine salt
     300ml warm water
     oil for kneading
     100g mixed seeds or nuts of your choice (I used sesame seeds, poppy seeds and finely chopped almonds for this loaf).
  • Put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Pour in the warm water and mix until just combined. It'll look a little messy. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the seeds and nuts in gently with your hands. Lightly oil your work surface and hands and knead the dough gently for a few minutes. Cover and repeat twice more. (Alternatively, use a dough hook in a stand mixer on a low speed. I like to add a few drops of oil into the bowl to help it knead).
  • Cover the bowl again and leave for 45 minutes.
  • Dust your work surface with flour. Shape into an oval shape, tucking in the ends and place seam side down on a floured tray.
  • Cover once more and leave for a further 45 minutes, or until it's size has increased by a half.
  • Heat the oven to 220 degrees. Sprinkle some flour over the loaf, slash the top and bake for 35 minutes.
I know 'the professionals' like to say that fresh bread is best on the day of baking, but a loaf like this will last me a week. A few slices to dunk in soup for work lunches or some for toast in the mornings smothered in honey and sliced banana.
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