|That's some good bread right there.|
I used to have a strange aversion to baking anything involving yeast, based on the (completely unfounded) assumption that it would be difficult. It’s not. Thankfully I decided to give it a go one day – spurred on by the lure of a home-baked pizza – and haven’t looked back since. Bread, rolls, buns...they are all pretty simple to make, as long as you have the time to let them rise. I stick my dough in a cupboard by our boiler in a lidded pan, which seems to do the trick, but anywhere fairly warm will do. I have also successfully let my dough rise overnight in the fridge.
This makes a gorgeous little loaf...great for sandwiches, great for toast, although perhaps not if you don’t like the aniseedy taste of fennel seeds. I do, however, and so think this is fantastic.
Oat and Fennel Seed Bread
For the dough:
250g white strong bread flour
250g wholemeal strong bread flour
2 handfuls or so of porridge oats
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 x packet of instant dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp runny honey
330ml warm water
1 tbsp white flour
1 tsp fennel seeds
Mix the flours, salt, oats, fennel seeds and dried yeast. In a separate bowl mix together the honey, olive oil and warm water, then add to the flour mixture and combine to form a wet dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes – by the end you should be able to feel that the dough has changed texture, from something quite sticky to a cohesive ball of dough. Put the dough in a lidded container, or cover with a teatowel, and leave in a warm place for 1 and a half hours to rise.
When you get your dough it should have risen to about twice the size. Use your hands to press the air out of the dough (this feels AWESOME) and knead for about a minute. Shape your dough into a ball, or whatever shape you want your loaf to be, and place on a greased baking tray. Lightly rub a little water onto the dough’s surface and sprinkle first with fennel seeds, and then with flour (using a sieve). Cut some slashes into your loaf, and cover with a teatowel, and return to your warm place to rise again, this time for 30 mins.
Whilst the dough is rising for a second time, preheat your oven to 220ºC. When the dough is ready, stick your loaf in the oven. After 10 minutes, turn the temperature down to 180ºC and bake for a further 10 minutes. When your loaf comes out the oven, place it on a wire rack to cool.