This is not a recipe, it’s an experiment. It’s not perfect, in fact it’s a little doughy in the middle right now but I took the time to make and eat it (and it is totally delicious!), so I wanted to honour it in a photograph and offer it. Sometimes, oftentimes, sharing thresholds and beginnings creates a generous, generative space. Putting your little imperfect loaf out there might inspire someone to dig out their family secrets recipe book and have a go. Allowing people in before your work is crystallized often opens the way for greater creativity. For the perfectionist or the shy person, used to muting their wild song, it is a radical act of confidence. Now I’m talking about more than bread but you get it. To go with the metaphor, to prove, you’ve got to rest; if it doesn’t work, put it out there and maybe someone will help you rise.
This imperfect and delicious bread was inspired by my creative and completely perfect nephew, Max. We rolled on the walnuts as they lay spread out to dry; he cried in rage when we took him away from my house-mate’s painting area; he nearly fell down in delight when we sang his song, ‘Here Comes The Sun.’ In the morning, his fists were stuffed with fragments of raisin toast and his joy was all in the spiced kitchen air.
Oh, here’s the recipe…
300g rye flour
200 ml cold water
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
¼ cup of raisins, soaked overnight and a splash of their soak water
1/8 cup of broken walnut pieces
Measure the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and sprinkle in the yeast. Add half the water and let it sit for about 20 minutes until there are little bubbles appearing on top of the water. Add the rest of the water and all the other ingredients and bring it together into a soft dough. Rye bread tends to make a dense dough, not the usual springy dough that comes from wheat flour, but if it is not malleable at all, you may have to add more water. I used a splash of the raisin soak water.
Grease a loaf tin with olive oil. Wet your hands and pass the dough from hand to hand, shaping it into an oblong, smaller than your tin. Place the shaped dough into your tin and, without smoothing it, sprinkle the top with flaked almonds or seeds to prevent it from sticking to the cloth as it rises.
Leave at room temperature for several hours. I had to move mine near the fire and leave it for 6 hours. You may need to leave yours overnight in the fridge. The loaf should have risen to half its size again and the surface should be slightly pulling apart in little pockets.
Heat the oven to 220 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and bake for a further 35 minutes. If the top looks to be burning, cover it in tin foil.
Cool completely and wait for at least one full day, preferably two before eating. It’s worth the wait!