The Hungarian Split Farmhouse Loaf recipe has been around for a long time and there are currently many recipes with small variations made to it as time passes. I baked this loaf over 10 years ago, during my early days of baking, and although it was a nice loaf, I forgot about it till recently, when I was looking through my pictures and I saw it. This is the recipe as I have it from that time, and I hope you will enjoy baking it yourself at home. The recipe is from a book entitled: BREAD by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter. -(Anness Publishing 2006.)
450 gm unbleached organic bread flour
10 gm salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tbs castor (superfine) sugar
20 gm yeast
275 ml warm water
25 gm melted butter
1 egg white
pinch of salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
Assemble all your ingredients before starting. This way you will not forget or miss out on an ingredient. Believe me, this does happen! The photo above shows all the ingredients lined up at the start.
In a glass or plastic bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and crushed fennel seeds, and then make a well in the centre of the mixture.
Cream the yeast with a little warm water and stir in the rest of the yeast.
In the bowl of the flour mix, pour the yeast liquid into the well at the center. Sprinkle some of the flour from the sides and mix gently in to make a runny batter. Then leave this to bubble for 30 minutes.
Add in the melted butter, mix all the flour in and turn the dough onto a floured silicone sheet to knead the dough till smooth and elastic. Here’s where you can appreciate what a well kneaded dough feels like!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently flatten, fold and form into a ball. Place back onto a baking sheet, and cover again with the plastic wrap for another 30 to 40 mins.
During this time, fire up your oven to 220˚C. I use a baking stone and a small shallow metal tray for adding boiling water to create steam in the oven. The steam creates a crispy crust.
Mix the egg white and a pinch of salt together, and brush this glaze over the loaf. Sprinkle with about 2 tea spoons of fennel seeds. Then make a slit about 1 cm deep along the middle of the length of the loaf with a sharp knife. Pour half a tea cup of boiling water on the shallow metal tray in the oven prior to placing the dough on to your baking stone.
Bake the loaf at 220˚C for 20 minutes and then at 180˚C for another 10 minutes or thereabouts, till the loaf is nicely brown and tapping the loaf at its base sounds hollow.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Tips: I prefer to use weight rather than cups of flour for a more accurate measure. It is also good to be specific on the type of flour used, as different types of flours weigh differently due to their varying densities and moisture content.
In the initial 5 to 10 minutes, the steam allows the yeast to work a little longer in the dough and this, combined with a hot baking surface, produces an extra push of volume. In addition, the steam coagulates the starch on the surface of the dough to give the crust its characteristic brown color.
“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven ―