Have a look at the 'Goes well with' section to the right of this page for three variations that use this basic recipe.
Mix your choice of brown flour with the
white, the yeast and salt in a large mixing
bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the
flour. Stir in the seeds if using. Make a dip
in the centre of the flour and pour in
almost 300ml hand warm (cool rather
than hot) water, with a round-bladed
knife. Then mix in enough of the
remaining water and a bit more if
needed, to gather up any dry bits in the
bottom of the bowl and until the mixture
comes together as a soft, not too sticky,
dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough on to a very lightly
floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins
until it feels smooth and elastic, only
adding the minimum of extra flour if
necessary to prevent the dough sticking.
Place the ball of dough on a lightly
floured work surface. Cover with an
upturned, clean, large glass bowl and
leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in
size and feels light and springy. Timing
will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by lightly
kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to
knock out any large air bubbles, so too
much handling now will lose the dough’s
lightness. Shape into a ball. Cover with
the glass bowl and leave for 15 mins.
Now shape to make a tin loaf Grease a 1.2-litre capacity loaf tin
(about 23 x 13 x 5.5cm) and line the base
with baking parchment. Using your
knuckles, flatten the dough into a
rectangle about 25 x 19cm. Fold both
shorter ends into the centre like an
envelope, make a ¼ turn, then flatten
again into the same size and roll up very
tightly, starting from one of the short
ends. Roll the top of the dough in extra
seeds and place in the tin with the join
underneath, pressing the seeds gently
into the dough. Cover with a clean tea
towel. Leave for 40-45 mins, or until risen
about 5cm above the top of the tin.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the
oven 20 mins before ready to bake and
heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put
the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour
about 250ml cold water into the roasting
tin (this will hiss and create a burst of
steam to give you a crisp crust), then
lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
Bake for about 30 mins or until golden,
covering with foil for the last 5 mins if
starting to brown too quickly. Leave in
the tin for 2-3 mins, then remove and
cool on a wire rack. If you tap the
underneath of the baked loaf if should
be firm and sound hollow.