Memorable meals come at the most unexpected times. Way back years ago in the sixth form common room, a large room in a tall Victorian curly columned terrace house, we sprawled about on the sofas talking parties, clothes and art gallery visits over our packed lunches. One day a friend brought in a feast of tin foil packages, one contained a coarse homemade pate, another dense slices of dark bread, there was a jar of fruity chutney too, all made by her father. Though food was very important in my family, this was an intense light bulb moment, it was the bread that really pricked my taste buds, pumpernickly, dark, rich and chewy. I remember her telling me it was sour dough bread. Her father was very particular about food, a gourmet, searching out the best, always making his own bread.
No, this recipe wasn’t a result of that happy experience, but it’s about the years trying to recreate the moment, an adventure in taste, experiences good and some bad. This is a great little bread packed with fruity, full on flavour. Toast fresh slices and spread with honey or wrap the loaf in a damp tea towel ready to slice thinly the next day. Delicious with home cured gravadlux, if you start curing the fish at the same time as your yeast culture they will be ready to feast on together.
Dark Rye Sour Dough Bread
- 225g rye flour
- 225g strong white flour
- 500g wholemeal flour
- 450ml water
- 2tsp honey
- 1 tsp salt plus a pinch
- Measure out half the white and rye flour. Put in a bowl with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp honey. Stir in enough warm water to make a sloppy dough. Leave in a cool place loosely covered with a tea towel for 3 days.
- Stir in the remaining white and rye flours and enough water to make a wet dough. Leave covered for a further 2 days.
- Put the yeasty mix in a large bowl add the whole meal flour with the remaining salt. Stir in enough warm water to make a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead till you have a silky dough. Shape into a long loaf then place on a baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel. Put in a warm place til it’s risen by nearly a half. Depending on how lively your wild yeast mix is this can take all day.
- Bake at 190C for 30-35 mins til the loaf it hollow when you tap it on the base. Cool on a wire rack.