This bread has the perfect mix of sweet and nutty in every slice
There is nothing more therapeutic than baking your own bread and this rye loaf is ultra versatile
Versatile: date and walnut rye bread. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
There is nothing more therapeutic than the process of baking your own bread but for many, it may be something that has never been attempted. While the ease and convenience of purchasing a ready-made loaf is a standard part of our everyday lives, there is care and reward in baking a fresh loaf yourself.
The process of nurturing something to life provides such gratification, and the aroma that fills your kitchen when that loaf is baking is incomparable. The first slice is the baker’s treat, that crusty end piece, still warm from the oven and slathered in butter.
The variety of different flours we have access to these days can be overwhelming, but rye flour is one that I have started using more regularly. It works well in so many different types of bakes.
I love using it in breads, pastry and even cookies. It is a wholegrain flour with a nutty flavour and varies from white to dark, depending on the degree of processing and the amount of germ and bran left on the kernel. The darker the rye, the denser and more complex in flavour the bake will be.
I like using a medium rye flour as it offers the best of all worlds in baking; it has the lighter texture and versatility of white rye, as well as the hearty, complex flavour of wholegrain dark rye flour. The trick when using it in this bread is to use it in conjunction with regular strong white flour, which gives the finished loaf a beautiful lightness while still retaining that nutty rye flavour.
One of my favourite flavour combinations in bread is date and walnut, and here you get a perfect mix of sweet and nutty in every slice. It is so versatile, with sweet or savoury toppings, and is particularly good toasted with cheese. This loaf is a big one, so freeze slices individually if you know you won’t eat it all in a few days.
Recipe: Date and walnut rye bread