Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf

Ingredients:

Makes one 550g-600g (baked weight) loaf

Dan Lepard portrait
A recipe by Dan Lepard.

In this new age where we’re either in a lockdown or feeling less inclined to travel, I find myself thinking more about the journey ingredients take to get from the field to my table. For the grain used to make flour it’s no exception. It used to be said up until not long ago that all of us, the world over, could only make fine bread from high-gluten Canadian wheat varieties. And we believed it, mostly, even though hundreds of years of evidence – from old master still life paintings through to the early days of photography – showed us images of great looking loaves of bread made from what today we’d call “Heritage Grain”. These grain varieties became almost extinct as their characteristic growing requirements, yield, colour, protein levels and natural sugars became less desirable to farmers, millers and most importantly the big buyers of grains around the world.

Even today many artisan bakers who would describe themselves as utterly traditional make bread that is wholly dependent on the extensibility, resilience and reliability of modern wheat varieties. But there is a new band of artisan bakers growing in number who are challenging this view and starting to celebrate older wheat varieties, with grain festivals around the world and, within the bakery, sourcing heirloom grains and having to mill them in-house just to explore these heritage grain’s characteristics.

Here at BakeryBits, together with renowned miller Shipton Mill, you can explore and enjoy these wheat varieties for yourself. The flour in each bag is skilfully milled by Shipton from over 150 varieties of mostly British heritage wheats organically grown together in the same field, as they would have been done in previous centuries. So, by using this flour you tap into those heritage wheats just as they would have been farmed in Britain before the modern industrialised hybrids took over.

These are delicate flours that require gentle handling during the rising process, as they have less resilient proteins, so they cannot be pushed to extremes like modern hybrid varieties. However, what you gain is a more complex flavour, potentially more diverse microflora in your sourdough and a real connection with the way dough would have handled and baked in other centuries.

Here I’ve kept it simple and combined Heritage Harvest organic roller-milled white flour with cider

Method

  1. Pour the cider and water into a bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast. Whisk well until the yeast has dissolved.Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Cider
  2. Next add the Heritage Harvest Organic Roller-Milled White Flour and mix well so there are no obvious lumps.

    Cover the bowl, leave for 10 minutes then sprinkle on the salt and mix in lightly. The dough will be given many stretch and folds as it rises so this too will help distribute the salt through the dough. Cover and leave the bowl for 1 hour.
    Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Flour

  3. Lightly oil or wet your hand then stretch and fold the dough in the bowl. Repeat this at 1-hour intervals twice more or until you see clear signs to aeration in the bowl.
    Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Oil and Dough
  4. Next lightly dust the worktop with flour and shape the dough into an oval.
    Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Cider
    Leave this to rise in a cloth-lined banneton with the seam-side upwards, or as I’ve done here, use a flour-rubbed tea towel and a loaf tin as a makeshift proving basket.Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Dough
  5. If you want to develop the flavour and crust colour more you can also place the banneton with the dough in the fridge overnight, covered.

  6. To bake the loaf heat the oven to 220C fan, and have ready a tray or your baking dome. If your dough seems very soft and flowing in the basket you can place it in the freezer for 45 minutes to firm the outside crust, and this makes it more stable when you tip it onto the tray or baking dome base, and peel the cloth off the dough. Upturn the loaf onto the tray or base and slash it (then cover with the baking dome if you’re using one) then bake for 30 minutes with steam, then rotate the loaf on the tray (and remove the dome) and bake another 15 – 20 minutes until it’s the golden colour you prefer. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing.Dan Lepard - Wheat Cider Loaf - Bread and Knife