A delicious and simple bread recipe
In Lewes, you can buy the most delicious bread, called Chewy Brown or Campaillou, which is a crusty, chewy, slightly malty, sour dough-type bread, delivered from some wonderful bakers in Brighton http://www.realpatisserie.co.uk/. It’s quite expensive (£2.40 a loaf) and only really available to the good residents of Brighton and Lewes. My dear friend Sarah always brings some when she visits us in North Essex, and last time she came up we tried to find an equivalent recipe online, only to discover it is VERY arduous, the process seemed to take days and you need things like a planetary mixer (!), and a whole host of obscure ingredients. So we concluded that in fact £2.40 for this bread is a bargain.
The good news is, that the below recipe gives a near-as-damn-it equivalent to Chewy Brown, without devoting your life to making it. In fact, it’s about the easiest bread you can make yourself, and is most tolerant to time variants, as you will see below.
Please note, good bread can change your life! Do try this recipe, it will make all meal times a pleasure – breakfast (toast with marmalade), lunch (with soup or as any kind of sandwich) as a light supper with poached duck egg and rocket. I could go on, but instead, I urge you to spend 5 minutes to make this lovely loaf!
The original bread recipe is Jim Lahey’s basic no-knead bread recipe, which comes from his inspiring book My Bread, the below is a slightly simplified version
400g Bread Flour (I often use half white and half wholemeal, but you can use rye, spelt or any that takes your fancy)
¼ tsp instant dried yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
300ml Cool Water (I use either cold water from the fridge or the tap)
Polenta (optional, but I scatter a bit on the bottom of the casserole before adding the dough and then over the dough before baking)
Any seeds you want to add (I add a couple of tbps of sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
1 mixing bowl
1 heavy-lidded casserole
Mix your dry ingredients together and then gradually add your cool water, mixing well until you have a wet dough (add more than the above quantity if needed). Cover with cling film and leave to one side in your kitchen (doesn’t need to be anywhere specific i.e. warm) for 12-18 hours.
After 12-18 hours your wet dough will have risen to 2-3 times its original size and will have some exciting bubbles appearing.
Now, take a spatula and slide round the edge of the bowl bringing the dough from the sides to the middle of the mixture, as if you were folding it up and over. Go right the way round the bowl. The dough will have lost some of its air and be about half the size.
Leave the dough for another 1-2 hours (if you leave if for longer it doesn’t matter, I’ve left it for a whole day after the first rising).
Now place your lidded casserole in the oven and turn the oven on to heat up to 220ºC (fan).
Once your oven and casserole are hot, take the casserole out of the oven, sprinkle the bottom with polenta and carefully pour your dough in – it will sizzle a little. Sprinkle a little polenta on top of your dough. Place the casserole lid back on and put back into the middle of your oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take the lid off the casserole and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the casserole for about 10-15 minutes. Then tip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
This bread also keeps incredibly well (apparently – it never gets a chance to in our house…)