While I adore caraway in slow-cooked meaty dishes (such as my braised pig cheeks in red wine or my family favourite Bolognese), when I think of caraway I do tend to think of bread. As I said before, one of my earliest memories of caraway is smelling it in a little Jewish bakery in Stamford Hill in North London as a child.
But until this week, I’ve never actually baked my own bread with caraway. To be honest, we’re quite boring with our bread, most of which is made in the breadmaker, carefully timed so that we have a freshly baked loaf awaiting us in the morning. That’s probably the only thing I have in common with David Cameron. Thank goodness.
I am married to a man who loves his gadgets and so it is no surprise we own a breadmaker. It is also no surprise, therefore,that it is my husband who makes most of our bread in said breadmaker. But on those occasions when I decide I want to make bread, I usually do it the old fashioned way, by hand, in an oven. If I didn’t work almost full-time, I’d probably bake more bread this way. But I do, so I don’t.
My husband prefers his loaves fluffy and white. I like mine brown, seedy and substantial. The children eat whatever’s going, thankfully.
I guess I really should have tried a rye bread for my first experimentation with caraway in breadmaking. But that might have been a step too far for my other half. I’ll work up to that. For my first caraway bread, I decided on a simple wholemeal loaf with a spattering of caraway and linseed. I’m not completely sure why I ended up with this particular combination, but it’s probably got something to do with picking up a big bag of linseed in Holland and Barrett when I actually went in to purchase something entirely different, and needed to use it up somehow. Apparently it is one of the most potent sources of omega 3 fatty acids found in nature and offers a whole host of health benefits besides. I just thought they tasted rather nice.
So here’s my caraway and linseed bread recipe. It’s less of a sandwich or toast bread and more of a satisfying bread and cheese and soup bread, if you know what I mean. But I did find myself creeping into the kitchen late at night and tucking into a slice or two, with nothing more than a generous spread of salted butter. And the scent of caraway transported me right back to that Stamford Hill bakery and heading back home with Dad to finish my Puffin Post competition entries…
Caraway and linseed bread
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
250g wholemeal bread flour
7g fast action dried yeast
50ml sunflower oil
20g caraway seeds
Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl and mix together. Pour in the sunflower oil and water and combine with your hands to form a dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.
Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for around 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Gradually knead in the caraway and linseed until evenly dispersed through the dough.
Shape the dough into a round and place on a well-floured baking tray. Cover the dough again with cling film or a tea towel and leave again until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/gas mark 5 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
When I do it in the Aga, I bake the bread near the top of the top oven for 10 minutes and then move to the bottom of the oven for the remainder of the time.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
This caraway and linseed bread is another of my entries for this month’s Spice Trail challenge.