Two Shires' Brown Bread


375g Cheshire Solstice wheat white flour
225g Shropshire Soissons wheat wholemeal flour
15g (1 d) dried yeast or 1 sachet instant yeast
2t salt
30g (1T) sugar
45ml Olive Oil (or other as preferred)
350ml lukewarm water

Make sure that the water is only lukewarm and pour into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, dried yeast (not instant) and 2T white flour and set aside to foam up and prove that the yeast is active.


Omit the above step if using instant yeast, simply combine all dry ingredients and add to the lukewarm water in the bowl.


Once the yeasted mixture shows good signs of bubbling then add the remainder of the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.  I use a Danish dough whisk and then bring the dough together in the bowl, adding any extra water or flour needed at this stage, before turning out onto a silicone mat (makes clearing up much easier) or a lightly oiled surface to work together to make a cohesive ball of dough.


Work the dough by kneading it for 10-15 minutes if by hand (the time depends on your strength and the enthusiasm of the kneading) or continue with a dough hook for 6-8 minutes if in a mixer.  I like kneading my dough by hand so that I can feel the magic as it happens, the tacky ball becomes firm, smooth and elastic, I never tire of feeling that change come about as I get into the stride of kneading, turning, kneading - love it!


Once the dough is sufficiently kneaded lightly oil the mixing bowl, or another suitably sized container and roll the ball of dough around it to lightly oil the surface before covering the bowl with cling film, a plastic bag or lid and leaving enough slack in the covering so as not to restrict the dough as it rises, place in a warm area to prove or if a longer prove is preferred then in a cooler place until the dough has doubled in size.  the time this takes depends entirely on the temperature of the dough as well as the proving area, it varies from day to day as well as from batch to batch.


While waiting for the dough to prove  select and grease the tin/s or sheet which you are going to use, a 2lb loaf tin, 2x 1lb loaf tins or the baking sheet for free form or rolls.  For a tin loaf dust with bran after greasing to give a lovely flavoured crust.


Once doubled in size turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface,  knock back gently and  form the shape that you want to bake the bread.  When filling a tin loaf pan the best shape can be obtained by flattening out the dough into an oblong then folding in thirds and pinching or turning the ends under to fit into the tin, if the dough is too short once in the tin then gently press with your knuckles from the centre towards the corners until the dough is roughly equally filling the shape of the tin.  Mist lightly with oil spray.

Cover the dough with cling film or a plastic bag, again taking care that this does not restrict the rise, and place back in a warm place to rise again.  Once nearly doubled in size preheat the oven to 180oC and bake on the centre shelf for 45 minutes.