Prep 4 hrs 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
I used half of Mean Chef's biga (81918) for this recipe. I also used Allinson's (which is a British brand) white bread flour with kibbled grains of wheat & rye, although if you do not have this available you may wish to use 3 & 1/2c of strong white bread flour & add 1/2c of grains. Using biga gives a lovely textured loaf with a tangy taste, it seems a bit time consuming but I actually spent less time in the kitchen than if I had baked a cake. Time includes proving time.
- 1 cup water, tepid
- 1⁄2 cup milk or 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, scant
- 2 cups active starter (biga)
- 4 cups white bread flour, with kibbled grains
- Put the water, milk & yeast into a small container & mix. Leave for 10 minutes.
- Put the oil, salt, brown sugar, biga & flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast/water mixture and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute.
- Using a mixer with a dough hook (I have hand mixer with two dough hooks), mix for 8-10 minutes. The dough will be very sticky & is not suitable for kneading by hand (I thought about it but don't be silly like me!).
- Cover & leave in a warm place until nearly doubled (this took me about 1 & 1/2 hours).
- Scrape out of the bowl onto a very well floured bench & gently split into 3 equal portions (I used a very sharp knife). Gently fold into loose rounds & leave to rest for about 1 hour. You need to be gentle as you don't want to knock the air out of the mixture.
- Gently shape into the form you want, being careful not to knock the air out of the dough. I gently stretched two of these into slipper shapes, and cut the other into 6 rolls, and rested each of the three portions on separate pieces of parchment paper. Being careful, put small dimples on the tops of the loaves & leave until doubled (about 1 & 1/2 hours for me).
- Just after doing this heat your oven & baking stone to 240 degrees Celsius.
- Once the loaves have doubled, bake as many as your stone can handle (mine was one portion at a time) for 5 minutes on 240 degrees Celsius. Lower the temperature to 200 degrees Celsius & bake until the base sounds hollow when tapped (about 30 minutes in total for a loaf, 20-25 minutes for the rolls).
- To get a nice crust spray the oven (taking care not to get the bread in the process) with water once or twice during baking.
- Once cooled these loaves freeze easily - I normally put them into a freezer bag with a twist tie & pop them in the fast freeze section of my freezer. I then let them defrost on the bench, or if you make rolls you can let them defrost & pop them into the oven on 200 degrees to warm them through.
- For Vegan use only the water.
This bread was an education. We don't have the Allinson flour, so I had to search for wheat and rye berries. I ground them until they were no larger than my steel-cut oats. I made a biga from 3/4 cup sourdough starter, 1 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. I used half one day for half of the above recipe, omitting the yeast. The rest of the biga stayed in a zippered bag in the fridge. Last night I used the rest of the biga, adding the yeast to the recipe. Both days I used my bread machine to mix up the dough, and then baked at 400 deg.F. What a delicious bread. The grains give a little bit of resistance to the teeth and a pop of flavor that is really welcome. For each loaf I used 1 1/2 c. bread flour and 1/2 cup of the "kibbled" grains.