Dan Lepard, is undoubtedly one of the most influential bakers in the UK. His gentle, informative style gives even the most nervous of bakers confidence. Most people know Dan from eight years of writing a weekly column for The Guardian, but it's not just the newspaper that made Dan's work lead the way for home bakers baking artisan bread. You can pinpoint the resurgence in hand made bread to the moment that Dan’s book The Handmade Loaf was published.
This almost no-knead loaf uses a mix of white, wholemeal and rye flour, though the recipe could use any other flour or combination so long as the white flour stays dominant (60% white to 40% other flour). The method is almost identical to the white leaven bread in The Handmade Loaf, however the result is quite different, with a dark, nutty sour taste to the crust and crumb.
In a large bowl, whisk the water with the leaven. Next add the flours and salt, and mix to a soft, sticky dough, adding more flour or water if the dough needs it, then cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a 20cm area on your worktop, and oil your hands. Scoop the dough out of the bowl onto the worktop and gently knead the dough for just 10 - 15 seconds. Rub the bowl inside with oil, return the dough to the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Give the dough two more light kneads in the same way, at 10 minute intervals then return the dough to the bowl, cover, and leave the dough for 2- 3 hours until it is risen slightly and about 1½ times its original volume.
Dust the clean worktop with flour. Gently knead and shape the dough into a ball. Cover and leave for 10 minutes to give the dough time to relax. Rub the inside of a long cloth-lined banneton with rye flour.
Pat the dough out into a flattish oval then roll it tightly towards you like a scroll. Pinch or press the seam edge back into the dough to seal it then place the dough seam-side upward in the banneton. Cover and leave until risen by half (not double).
Heat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/465°F/gas 9. Upturn the dough onto the tray and with a sharp blade cut two slashes across the loaf. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a rich dark brown in colour.
Recipe published with kind permission of Dan Lepard.
Both recipe and photographs are © Dan Lepard