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Rye grass grows well at cool, damp latitudes and is one of the most hardy species of grass grown on our shores. In the past British rye flour was incredibly popular for bread-making, due to its resilience and abundance, it was far more reliable than its temperamental cousin, wheat that needed a drier, warmer and more consistent climate than we are blessed with.

Despite its high protein and fibre content, rye bread has in recent times become less popular than wheat loafs due to its low gluten content that results in a denser loaf. However with that density comes heady stickiness from the treacle and once of the most flavourful loaves one can bake. Rye bread is highly nutritious it is packed full of phenolics, known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here chef and food writer Claire Thomson has shared with us her fabulous recipe for a classic rye loaf, perfect for feeding the family.

The bread recipe will make two loaves, approximately 23cm x 13cm. One can be used the the other frozen for a rainy day.

Ingredients

Method

  • Put the rye flour in a mixing bowl. Carefully pour over the boiling water and stir with a spoon. Set to one side to cool for 30 minutes.

    In the bowl of a food processor or large mixing bowl, add the white flour, spices and yeast. Add the rye mixture. Add 250ml water along with the treacle and process with a dough hook, or mix by hand, to form a scraggy wet dough - at least three to five minutes if using a food mixer, a little more if working by hand. Add the salt and continue mixing for a minute.

    The dough will be sticky, so use a dough scraper if you have one, or wet your hands and work quickly to remove the dough and place in a lightly oiled bowl to prove until doubled in size, about one or two hours. The treacle will speed up the prove

    Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6 and line two loaf tins with greaseproof paper. Wet your hands to stop the dough from sticking. Turn the dough out on to a lightly oiled surface and cut it in half. Shape each half to fit the loaf tin, tucking the edges under neatly. Place the dough snugly in the lined tin, pressing down to fill the space. Cover the tins with a clean tea towel and leave to prove until the top of the dough has nearly reached the lip of tin, or until risen approximately half in size again.

    Dust the loaves with a little flour, then use scissors or a sharp knife to make two slashes on top of each loaf - this will help with a steady rise in the oven.

    Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the temperature down to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 after 10 minutes, until they are nicely coloured and hollow-sounding when tapped from beneath.

    Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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