This is a bread you need to prepare a day or few in advance by making a yeast starter. With a soft interior this flavoursome bread is perfect for sandwiches or mopping up a saucy stew. It’s a great summer loaf. The starter when it’s ready can be kept in the fridge for up to a week which is good because there is enough to make at least two loaves. I always recommend using a good organic unbleached white flour and organic whole wheat flour for bread making. It makes a huge difference to the end result nutritionally and taste-wise.
Yeast Starter can be made the night before.
1/4 tsp dried yeast
275mls warm water
300gms plain flour
Mix the yeast with 5 tbs or so of the warm water and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes till dissolved and slightly creamy. Stir in the rest of the water. Using a wooden spoon stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly for at least two minutes. I cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place overnight. It should rise to about 3 times it’s original size and will take between 8 – 12 hours. Once it’s risen it can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.
275ml warm water
200gms of the yeast starter
1 scant tsp dried yeast
2 tsps salt
2 tbsps good olive oil
450gm flour ( This time I used 350gms wholemeal and 100gms white)
Put the warm water in a large bowl, add 200gm of the yeast starter (I used roughly half). Mix this creamy and stringy dough with the water. Sometimes it’s easier to squish the starter through your fingers. When there are only a few lumps left stir in the dried yeast, salt and olive oil.
Slowly mix in the flour using a wooden spoon. Once mixed knead for a good ten minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
Put the ball of dough back into the bowl (now greased with olive oil) and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place until the dough has nearly trebled in size. Depending on the ambient temperature this will take between 2 -3 hours.
Once risen, remove the dough from the bowl, gently punch it down and knead/shape into a smooth ball. Place onto a heavily floured baking tray and leave it to rise. I gently oil the ball and cover with a bowl so that it doesn’t spread too much. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
Meanwhile heat the over to 230C. When the bread has risen sprinkle with flour and bake for 30-35minutes until the top is browned nicely and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Enjoy!