This wonderful bread tastes like sourdough, only better. We like to make it with a mixture of white flour as well as rye, so it isn’t too heavy. But you can change the proportions if you prefer a darker loaf. You may need to add extra water if using more rye.
175ml whole milk
2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
250g rye flour
200g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1-2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
sunflower oil, for greasing
Put the milk, 175ml water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat very gently until the liquid is lukewarm and the sugar has dissolved. Give it a good stir to check it doesn’t feel gritty. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in the yeast and leave for 10 mins or until a light froth is floating on the surface.
Put the flours in a large bowl and stir in the salt and caraway seeds. Make a well in the centre, pour the warm yeast mixture onto the flour, stir with a wooden spoon, then your hands to form soft, spongy dough.
Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 mins or until smooth and elastic. This dough is hard work, so roll up your sleeves and give it some welly. Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hrs or until doubled in size.
Return the dough to a floured work surface and knock back with your knuckles before kneading for a further min. Shape into a fat oval or round loaf, pulling the dough from the top and sides and tucking underneath to make a neat shape. Put the dough on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and score the surface 4 times with a sharp knife. Cover loosely with the oiled cling film and leave to prove for a further 40-50 mins or until doubled in size.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 40 mins or until well risen and the base sounds hollow when tapped sharply. Allow to cool for at least 20 mins before serving.