Farmer’s bread can refer to many different breads and the definition seems to be quite fluid. It can be made with varying proportions of flour and various types of flour. It can be sweetened with malt syrup, molasses, honey, or treacle. Caraway seed is a common addition too.
This kind of bread would be made with a sourdough starter. Other recipes suggest using a yeast derived preferment and others even add some vinegar for extra acidity. I decided to stick to cold bulk fermentation which gets us as close to sourdough as we can get with using commercial yeast. It is also the easiest and most fail proof-fermentation method. Another great thing with cold fermentation is that it allows us to easily use the no-knead method.
It would be hard to simplify the process even further without any compromises.
I proof this loaf in a bread basket and I use my Lodge cast iron combo cooker to bake it. If you do not have a basket or a combo cooker, then you can just final proof it in a cloth-lined bowl or tin and bake it on a baking stone, steel, Pyrex dish or a regular baking tray. Or just final proof it the right side up on a tray and bake it that way.
What I’m saying is that you can use whatever you have and still make a great loaf.
This recipe makes one large loaf. You can shape it into a boule or batard, or you can make rolls out of it.
Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.
For the dough –
450g (1lb) white bread flour
50g (1.75oz) white rye flour
30g (1oz) barley malt syrup
4g (0.14oz) instant dry yeast or 4.8g (0.17oz) active dry yeast or 12g (0.42oz) fresh yeast
9g (0.31oz) salt
10g (0.35oz) caraway seeds
15g (0.5oz) sunflower oil
300g (10.6oz) water*
*To learn more about dough temperature control click here.
If you are using active dry yeast, then you may need to let it sit in the water for 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients or else it could take a lot longer to raise the dough.
- In a large bowl combine the water, caraway seeds, yeast, salt, oil, syrup, and rye flour. Mix well until the salt has completely dissolved and the all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Add the white bread flour and mix to a dough. *Desired dough temperature 25C (77F).
- Place the dough in the fridge to cool down for 30 minutes.
- Place it back in the fridge and leave to cold ferment for 24 hours.
- Shape the loaf and place it in a proofing basket.
- Cover and final proof for 2 hours. During the final hour of fermentation pre-heat the oven and the baking vessel to 210C (410F) fan off.
- Invert the loaf onto a piece of non-stick paper. Score the surface.
- Place the loaf in the combo cooker and cover with the lid.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes.
Leave to cool down for a couple of hours before cutting.
Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.
Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.
Watch the video here