I’ve been making this bread a lot lately. I am a sucker for the smell of home-made bread already, but add in a divine crust and I am in bread heaven 😉
This is a recipe that is easy to follow even for beginners when it comes to bread baking. I am no expert and it always comes out perfect. If I can do it, so can anyone else. I found the recipe on Jo Cooks, where all the measurements are Imperial. I’ve been making this bread using my measuring cups, but decided to convert the recipe to Metrical measurements, as I ultimately find those easier and think most people in my area of the world do too.
I eat this bread for breakfast or lunch with different toppings or as a side to dinner. It is hearty, has lovely flavour and texture due to the slow proofing and seeds and it is incredibly satisfying too.
You do need to start the dough the day before you plan on baking it, but it takes 5 minutes to get the dough going and then the dough just sits on the counter for 12-18 hours developing flavour and texture and you don’t have to do anything to help it. How lovely is that?
In case you haven’t baked a bread like this (in a pot) or haven’t baked a slow proofed bread before I am including a lot of explanation and pictures before we get to the recipe itself 🙂
This bread gets it’s lovely crunchy crust from being baked in a very hot oven and inside a cast iron pot with a lid. If you have a cast iron pot, make sure the handle/knob on the lid is oven safe. If it isn’t oven safe, perhaps you can unscrew it when using your pot for this. If the handle doesn’t come off and isn’t safe to use in the oven, you can use a piece of foil in place of the lid. The important thing is that you can create an enclosed space in the pot. If you don’t have a cast iron pot you can use a big oven safe pot with a heavy bottom and a lid. Again check if all the parts of the lid are safe to use in the oven.
There is one important thing to remember when baking in a pot like this: Don’t oil or grease the pot! Your pot and the lid needs to be heated up alongside the oven, so that both oven and pot are piping hot when the bread goes in. The bread will not stick to the pot if it’s as hot as the oven – I promise. If you oil or grease the pot you will get a smoke filled kitchen and a mess to clean out of your pot when the bread is done, so please don’t do it.
This is how my cast iron pot looks after baking this bread:
The brown that you see here is baked flour left behind by the bread. When the pot has cooled down, it washes right off. As you can see from the picture my pot is oval. This is just the pot I have, but the bread bakes beautifully in any shape pot.
I start my dough in the evening before I go to bed and bake it the next day. Do what works best for you, but remember to let the dough proof for at least 12 hours before baking and up to 18 hours. I use cold tap water for the dough and the slow relatively cold proofing helps the yeast develop a lot of flavour. I recommend that you mix your ingredients up in a big mixing bowl, so the dough has room to rise.
Now, here is my walk-through of the recipe. First, measure out the dry ingredients in your bowl:
Give the dry a ingredients a good mix with a big spoon or similar:
Add in the water and stir. You only need to stir until there is no dry flour left. The dough will look very wet and like what is often described as a shaggy mess in bread recipes:
Now you need to cover your bowl tightly with cling film and let it sit on the counter out of direct sunlight for 12-18 hours.
When you heat up your oven, remember to put your pot and lid in the oven first. Preheat oven and pot for 30 minutes, so you are sure the pot has been heated up thoroughly.
When you uncover the bowl you will likely notice the dough smells a bit sour – a little like beer. This is normal and we want this, as it will be a big part of what makes the bread so lovely. The dough will have grown in volume and gotten small bubbles on the surface like this:
Now you need to generously flour a clean and dry surface, where you will shape the dough. Notice how wet the dough looks in the above picture? I use a flexible bowl scraper that I dip in flour to scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured surface. You can also use a spatula dipped in flour if you prefer.
To shape the bread into a nice round ball of dough you need to work with quite a lot of flour on your hands. Keep on flouring your hands in between touching the dough and shape it into a loaf shaped like this:
Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly round. It will still look gorgeous, rustic and most importantly taste great!
Get your piping hot pot out of the oven and remove the lid. Quickly pick up the dough and plop it into the pot:
Put the lid back on – remember to use oven mitts or pot holders, so you don’t burn your hands.
Put the covered pot back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off the pot and bake for 15-20 minutes more, till the bread is golden brown and baked through. To test if the bread is baked through you can knock on the underside of the loaf and if it sounds hollow it’s baked through.
Get the pot out of the oven. To get the bread out of the pot, cover your hands with a folded up dry tea towel or some oven mitts and you can pick it right up. Place the loaf on a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 30 minutes (and I recommend a little longer) before slicing into it. Fun fact: Often you can actually hear the bread cooling. Put your ear near the crust and it will give little crackling sounds as it cools down.
Let the pot cool to room temperature before washing out the baked flour.
This loaf will serve 10 and each serving is 6 SP.
- 250 g regular flour (all purpose flour).
- 250 g whole wheat flour.
- 45 g sunflower seeds (raw and unsalted).
- 50 g flax seeds.
- 2 tsp fine salt.
- 1 tsp dry yeast.
- 460 ml cold tap water.
Measure out all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients and add the water. Stir until you see no more dry flour and cover the bowl with cling film.
Let the bowl sit on the counter, out of direct sunlight for 12-18 hours.
Put your cast iron pot with its lid in the oven on the lowest rack and preheat to 230C for 30 minutes.
Generously flour a clean and dry surface and scrape the dough onto it. Flouring your hands shape the dough into a ball shaped loaf.
Get the heated pot out of the oven and take off the lid. Remember to protect your hands from the very hot pot and lid.
Quickly pick up the loaf and plop it into your pot. Put the hot lid back on and return the pot to the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on the pot.
Remove the lid from the pot and bake uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes. The bread is done when the crust is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when you knock its underside.
Let the bread sit on a cooling rack for at least 30-45 minutes before slicing into it.
The cooled bread will keep in a bag for a couple of days. The crust will loose its crunch as it is stored, but it will still taste lovely and will also make great toast.