What could be more In The Sticks-ey than baking your own bread?

As part of my ongoing quest to reduce the amount of wheat in my diet, I adapted this recipe from one I found on allrecipes.com, to include both spelt and rye flours. Both are forms of wheat, of course, but the thought was there.

Starting with organic flours, and lactose free milk, I ended up with two mainly organic (the yeast was bog standard dried from a sachet, the treacle just Lyles) loaves:

Ingredients for 2 loaves

480 ml  milk – I used skim lactose free as my choice
1x 7g sachet dried yeast
2 tablespoons treacle
1 egg
400g rye flour
365g spelt flour
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons caraway seeds – this quantity gives a strong caraway taste, reduce quantity or omit if you prefer a milder taste
olive oil for greasing the dough and tins

Heat the milk to lukewarm. This is to activate the yeast; too hot will kill it so be careful you can easily hold your finger in it without discomfort. Stir in the yeast and leave it for around 10 minutes. You should find a bubbly brownish head forms on the top. It is doesn’t, leave a little longer; if there’s still no head on it start again with fresh yeast. Maybe not so hot the seond time!

In a large bowl, gently mix together roughly half of the flour, the caraway seeds if using, salt, egg and treacle. Pour in the yeast mix and mix together. It will be quite fluid at this stage – like a thick cake batter. Cover with a damp towel and leave to rise for 45 minutes.

Next, stir in the remaining flours, a little at a time until combined. I used a Kitchenaid mixer for this with the dough hook, but you can just stir it in. You’re aiming for a soft dough, so you may need to adjust the flour, using more or less than the total 765g.

….sticky…..

The dough ready for it's second rise
…becomes quite manageable quite quickly!

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it becomes smooth and elastic-y. This should take 5 minutes or so, depending on your flour. Again, I cheated and used the mixer for part of this, and finished it off by hand. Depends how much of a workout you need!

Put the dough into a large oiled bowl (the oil stops it sticking to everything) and cover it with the damp tea towel again. Put it in a warm place to rise – this time until it’s about double in size. I put mine near the dishwasher as it was running because I’ve noticed it gets quite warm on top of it.

Before rising…..

After rising. About twice the size….

Once it’s risen, knock it back ie give a bit of a whack – I love this bit. The dough feels fluffy and velvety. Cut in half and, on a floured surface, form into loaves. I did one in a traditional shaped loaf tin, and one as a country style round loaf. I slashed a cross in the top. No reason, just pretty. Make sure you oil the tins to stop the bread sticking to them.

Leave the dough one last time for a last rise, about 45 mins, again covered in the damp cloth.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Bake the loaves for around half an hour, until golden. To check it’s cooked, you can upturn the bread from the pan and give it a tap; if it’s well cooked it will sound hollow.

You can see that the texture is quite dense, and the combination of rye flour and treacle makes this quite a dark brown bread.

Despite being free of additional preservatives, this bread kept really well – it was still happily toastable after 5 days (not that there was much left by then!). Next time, I’m going to try adding some millet as well, to add more of a non wheat element.

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