This recipe was given to me by my Slovakian auntie. She bakes her own bread on a daily basis.
For a long time I had missed the taste of bread that I was used to from home so I asked her to send me her recipe.
When I moved to Australia it took me a good couple of years to get used to the white fluffy, cotton wool-tasting bread you buy in the supermarket. And toasting the bread – that’s not the practice at home. At least it wasn’t when I was growing up. You don’t really toast rye bread.
Rye bread with caraway seed is the most common variety in the Czech Republic.
One day I used my aunt’s recipe and tried to bake my own bread that tasted like the one from home. And I succeeded.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful bakeries here in and around Melbourne baking the most amazing sourdough I’ve ever tasted. For example The Red Beard in Trentham that we visit quite often.
But still, the first thing I go for when I get home to Prague is bread. Fresh, not toasted, plain, just like that, yum…
Or with a spread of home-made lard and thinly sliced onion and lots of salt. Not so good for my waistline though 🙂
Try baking your own bread. It’s quite easy. And the reward? Two loaves of preservative – free goodness. The better quality flour you use, the better the quality your bread will be.
I use white bakers flour, organic white spelt and organic wholemeal flour in a 2:1:1 ratio.
You can use just white flour, if that’s what you have at home.
I tweaked my auntie’s recipe a little.
Here is my latest version.
This recipe yields two loafs.
500 g strong bread flour
250 g white spelt flour
250 g wholemeal flour
3 tsp salt
1-2 tsp caraway seeds, whole or crushed
3 Tbsp vinegar ( I use organic cider vinegar, but white is fine)
3 Tbsp olive oil
200 g cooked potato, grated (3 small or 2 bigger potatoes will do, cook them in their skins, peel and grate finely)
200 ml tepid water
1 Tbsp dry active yeast (my Tbsp is 20 ml, that’s 5 ml bigger than a standard US Tbsp)
3 tsp granulated white sugar
300 ml tepid water
Mix the starter ingredients and let them ferment for about half an hour – until bubbly.
Put all remaining ingredients (except the 200 ml water) in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl if you don’t own a mixer.
I use my stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, makes the kneading so much easier. If you knead by hand, that’s a bonus exercise for you.
With the mixer on minimum speed start adding your fermented starter. Also add bit by bit the 200 ml of water.
Dough ball will start forming. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes on minimum. It’s a lot of flour, we don’t want to overheat your machine.
Dough should be elastic, smooth and not too wet. Keep adding water if the dough feels too dry. The ball should pick up all the flower off the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels too wet and sticky, add more flour.
Let the dough rise in a covered bowl for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Punch the air out of the dough, roll and knead for a minute, return it to the bowl, cover and let rise again for another hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Meanwhile prepare the tins for baking. I butter mine and dust them with some corn meal (flour).
Punch the dough again and divide in two equal parts. Shape the dough according to your tin. I use rectangular high bread tin.
Let the bread rise one last time.
Meanwhile preheat your oven to maximum, mine gets up to 250C.
Make a couple of slits (with a thin sharp knife) in the top of your bread and brush it lightly with some milk, sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake in the middle of your oven for 15 minutes then reduce to 150C for 45 minutes.
When finished baking remove the bread from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
I slice mine and usually end up with 12 -15 slices per loaf.
This bread has no preservatives so it won’t last a week like the supermarket kind, but I promise you it tastes much better.
I usually put mine in a zip-lock back and freeze.
We toast it straight from the freezer.