One of my recent visits to Ireland brought me to The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore and, oh my, they do good brown bread there. Luckily, I found the recipe in The Cliff House Hotel Cookbook: Granny McGrath’s Brown Irish Soda Bread.
Some of the ingredients were rather hard to find in the UK (they are more readily available in Ireland) but I did succeed and found what I needed.
The recipe is fantastic. There is no doubt, this is the real deal.
Brown Irish Soda Bread Recipe
A beautiful recipe for brown Irish wholemeal soda bread.
Adding seeds to homemade breads is a great way of enhancing the taste, texture and nutritional value of an otherwise plainer loaf. Here is a recipe for a multi-seed bread using different seeds (sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well as seeded flour) and a handful of chopped walnuts. Dry-roasting the seeds and nuts first makes the loaf even more wholesome and delicious.
Bake the bread in a (La Cloche) baking dome to achieve a perfectly crunchy crust. Putting the lid on for most of the baking process, the closed dome traps moisture and creates stream for a crispy crust.
Multi-Seed Brown Bread Recipe
This beautiful loaf is based on a unique flour blend by Shipton Mill which also includes a multi-seed mix. If you don’t have this to hand, you can make your own multi-grain and seed flour. Add together finely ground wholewheat, rye and a smaller portion of barley or oat flour and add in some finely ground seeds (you can do this with a grain mill or coffee grinder).
Feel free to experiment with different seeds to bake your perfect multi-seed loaf.
For the sourdough starter refreshment
50g sourdough starter
100g wholewheat flour
65g bread flour
For the toasted seed and nut mix
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
260g boiling water
For the main dough
465g Shipton Mill’s 3 Malt & Sunflower flour
How to make multi-seed bread
On the day before baking, refresh your sourdough starter, by combining the sourdough starter, wholewheat flour, white flour and water in a medium mixing bowl. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 12-14 hours.
On the day of baking, start by dry-roasting the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chopped walnuts in a non-stick pan until they are nicely toasted and their nutty flavours are released. Add the water to soak the seeds and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
After the 30-minute wait, you are ready to make the main dough.
Combine 330g of the sourdough starter (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), the seed and nut soaker as well as the remaining main dough ingredients in a large bowl and knead for 10 mins.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover the bowl with a lid.
Leave to rest for an hour at room temperature.
Prepare a proofing basket by lightly dusting it with flour.
Once the dough has rested, give it another quick knead, shape it into a round loaf, cover it with flour and place it seam-side up into the proofing basket.
Cover the proofing basket with a polythene bag to prevent the loaf from drying out and prove the loaf for several hours at room temperature until fully proofed.
Preheat the oven to 220°C at least 20 mins before baking and preheat the La Cloche dome (including lid) at the same time.
Carefully turn out the loaf from the proofing basket to the preheated baking dome plate.
Score the dough by making a few incisions.
Place the lid on the dome and put in the oven.
Bake for 15 mins, then lower the heat to 190°C.
Bake for another 30 mins, then take off the lid for another 15 mins.
A new favourite! This rye bread with sunflower seeds is amazing – rye sourdough, malt and toasted sunflower seeds give this bread its delicious flavour. While sunflower seeds usually only have a very mild taste, toasting them evokes a wonderfully nutty flavour. Additionally, they are a great source of Vitamin E, copper, vitamin B1, magnesium and selenium.
Focaccia is a flattish rustic Italian bread with an open, irregular crumb structure. I love focaccia when it’s moist and chewy without being too oily, when it’s kept simple, with an emphasis on fresh herbs and olive oil flavours.
Focaccia dough is fairly wet and sticky, but the addition of olive oil means it’s still pliable, soft and easy to work with. Additionally, I’ve added a bit of semolina and rye flour to give the bread more character.
Ingredients (to make 2 focaccia breads) –
The day before baking…
Combine 50g 100% hydration active sourdough starter with 100g water and 100g wholemeal flour.
Give it 12 to 16 hours to ripen.
On the day of baking, you’ll need the following dough ingredients…
285g strong white bread flour
285g Italian 00 flour
80g rye flour
7g dry yeast
11g sea salt
90g olive oil
380g warm water
4 tbsp olive oil + some more for brushing
How to make the focaccias
Combine the prepared sourdough with the dough ingredients in a large bowl.
Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead for approx. 10 minutes.
Shape the wettish dough into a round by folding the edges into the centre.
Cover the dough with the bowl (moisten the bowl’s sides and edges before you place it over the dough).
Leave the dough to prove for approx. 1.5 hours.
Prepare two round cake tins (approx. 23 cm in diameter) and wrap tin foil around the outside of the tin to prevent any oil from leaking.
Put 2 tbsp of olive oil into each cake tin and use a brush to make sure the whole bottom of the pan is evenly coated.
Lightly dust a free space on the work surface with flour.
Carefully move the dough over onto the floured surface, taking care not to deflate the dough too much in the process.
Divide the dough into two equal segments.
Fold the edges into the centre, then place the dough parts into the cake tins, seam-side down.
Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Very gently pull, push and prod from the centre towards the edges to obtain a roundish shape.
Cover the pans with a clean dishcloth and set aside at room temperature for about 30 – 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220°C
Use your fingers to push the rosemary into the dough, distributing it evenly. Push ever so slightly outward, towards the edge of the pan. You’ll dimple the dough at the same time, giving the bread its characteristic indentations.
Evenly sprinkle over the sea salt.
Place the focaccias on the center rack of the oven and bake until crisp and golden-brown, for approx. 25 minutes.
Remove the focaccias from the pan onto a wire rack.
Finally, brush the surface of the breads with olive oil while hot to give it a nice glossy finish.
Packed with great tasting flax seeds, this flaxseed bread recipe is one of my current favourites. I love baking with rye and use both wholemeal rye flour as well as whole wheat and white wheat flour in the recipe. The result – a robust loaf of wholesome brown bread filled with crunchy seeds. Delicious with butter and jam for breakfasts or as a side to creamy vegetable soups.
Thanks to the way the seeds are soaked, the bread will stay extra-moist for days after baking. It also tastes delicious when toasted as the heat will bring out the nutty flavour of the seeds. Give it a go – you’ll love it!
The mighty flaxseed…
There are two basic varieties of flax seeds: brown and yellow/golden. Nutritionally, they are very similar; both types are a great source of dietary fibre, antioxidants and a type of omega-3 fat.
It’s important to soak the seeds before baking (see another example of this technique in my Kamut flour bread recipe). If flax seeds are not soaked, they absorb moisture from the bread and dry out the crumb quickly.
Prepare the sourdough by combining 30g sourdough starter, 50g dark rye flour, 50g wholewheat flour and 100g water in a medium bowl. Mix well then cover with a lid. Leave to rest at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
For the flaxseed soaker, combine 90g flax seeds with 200g cold water in a small bowl. Cover and set aside until needed.
Combine all ingredients: 200g of the sourdough (rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), 125g dark rye flour, 50g whole wheat flour, 175g strong white flour, 130g water, the flaxseed soaker, salt and dried yeast in a large bowl.
Knead for 10 minutes. Have some extra water ready as you might need to wet your hands and the worktop a few times depending on the dough’s consistency. You should end up with a soft, slightly sticky dough.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it into a bowl and keep it covered for 1 or 2 hours – it should have quite visibly risen by then.
Give the dough a quick 10 second knead, lightly flour the dough surface all over and place it into a lightly floured proving basket.
Cover with a polythene bag and keep in a warm place for another hour or more until it has expanded significantly and is fully proved.
Bagels are exciting; not only because of their unique taste but also because the baking process involves boiling the bagels before baking them. It’s this process that creates the wonderfully chewy interior crumb while leaving the outside browned, crisp and shiny.
There are two different shaping methods –
‘Rope and loop’: Makes a rounder bagel and the overlap of the rope ends makes it unmistakably homemade
‘Stretch and poke’: Better looking and no danger of the loop opening up when boiling
Ingredients (yeast version) – 6 bagels
7g dry yeast
350g strong high-protein bread flour (around 14% protein is good, I used Marriages flour (13.8%))
150g wholemeal bread flour
275g lukewarm water
2 tbsp clear honey
Ingredients (sourdough version) – 6 bagels
200g sourdough starter
300g strong high-protein bread flour (see description above)
75g wholemeal bread flour
75g light rye flour
135g lukewarm water
2 tbsp clear honey
How to make bagels:
Combine all ingredients (except the egg) to form a firm dough – might need a little more water depending on the flours you use
Knead for 10 mins for a firm and elastic dough (wetter isn’t better when it comes to bagels; the dough should be quite firm)
Slighltly oil a large bowl and also coat the dough with a little oil, place in the bowl and cover with cling film
Yeast version: rest for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size
Sourdough version: rest for 4 hours (this may vary depending on the ‘ferociousness’ of your starter and the room temperature)
Divide into 6 pieces
Shape each piece into a roll, then form a ring (these should be roughly hand-sized)
Link the crossed over ends with wet hands
Place on baking paper
Cover with a damp kitchen towel as you work
Yeast version: rest for 30 mins
Sourdough version: rest for 1-2 hours
Preheat the oven to 220°C (gas mark 7)
Boil a large pot of water
Lower to a gentle simmer and lower the bagels in approx. 3 at a time or as many as fit comfortably. They should be floating at the top.
Leave 1 min on 1 side, flip over to boil for another minute on the other side
2 mins each side makes a really chewy bagel
Remove and drain, don’t use a paper kitchen towel as it will stick!
Place on a ligthly oiled baking sheet
Prepare some egg wash
Brush each bagel with egg wash and sprinkle on the seeds (see toppings above)
Bake for 10 – 15 mins until golden brown
Cool on a wire rack
You can store the bagels in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Best eaten fresh!!
Don’t worry about larger holes in the crumb – they are perfect for trapping an extra bit of cream cheese!
I started using Kamut khorasan flour in bread baking two months ago and have not stopped using it since. It tastes excellent in sourdough breads and I’ve baked some of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever tasted with this beautiful flour. Here is my Kamut bread recipe, also incorporating flax seeds. I recommend it!
“Kamut” is a trademark which has been set up for a species of ancient wheat called khorasan to guarantee certain qualities of the grain. For example, the name KAMUT® certifies that khorasan wheat has been organically grown.
The khorasan grain is not suited to the UK’s soil or climate conditions and is currently grown in North America. In the UK, you can buy Kamut Khorasan Flour from Doves Farm, the licensed UK supplier of KAMUT® khorasan grain.
Kamut khorasan flour is high in protein and has a mild, slightly nutty taste and golden colour. It contains gluten, but is reported to be tolerated well by those sensitive to gluten. It’s generally advisable to mix Kamut flour with plain flour – your loaf of bread might otherwise be quite dense due to the khorasan flour’s high gluten content.
Mix together and cover overnight (about 12 hours).
200g preferment (see above)
165g flaxseed soaker (see above)
250g Kamut flour
100g bread flour
100g plain flour
Combine all ingredients
Knead for 10 minutes
Leave to rest for an hour
Stretch and fold and carefully cover with a layer of flour
Place in a well floured proving basket, cover with a polythene bag and rest at room temperature – the proofing process might take quite a few hours depending on the temperature in your room (recently I had to proof the dough overnight – 6 hours – before baking as it was quite cold)
Preheat the oven to 240°C half an hour before baking
Bake for 45 minutes, turn down the heat to 200°C after 10 minutes
This whole milk bread recipe makes one of the most comforting loaves of bread I’ve ever tasted. It’s gorgeously soft and pillowy and deliciously wholesome. The proofing and baking process is a real spectacle as the dough boldly spills over the top of the tin and then rises to exuberant heights in the oven.
“The addition of milk to a bread dough has a pronounced softening effect on the crumb.” Andrew Whitley
The distinguishing milk bread recipe ingredients
The fats in milk (especially whole milk) contribute to a soft and even grain in the crumb while the sugar found in milk (lactose) gives the bread a lovely golden colour as it caramelises on the loaf’s surface. Milk also increases the nutritional value of the loaf as it contains protein and minerals such as calcium.
The addition of butter adds flavour and coats the gluten strands, making the bread more tender and the crumb more close-grained. An additional benefit of adding fats to bread dough is the increased shelf life.
Honey adds a certain sweetness to the milk loaf and aids the browning process, making milk loaf slices perfect toasting material.
Milk bread recipe
250g strong white flour
250g wholemeal flour
350ml whole milk (slightly warmed to lukewarm temperature), plus a little extra for glazing
2g dry yeast
25g warm melted unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
How to make milk bread
In a bowl, whisk together the warm milk, honey and yeast.
Add the flours, salt and melted butter and combine until all the ingredients have come together.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place back into the bowl.
Cover and leave to rest for about 1 ½ hours. It should have visibly risen by then.
Butter and flour a deep loaf tin (12 x 19 cm in size).
Divide the dough into 2 or 4 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. I personally prefer using 4 pieces as the shape of the final loaf looks better.
Place the dough balls side by side into the tin (smooth side up) and cover the tin with a clean cloth.
Leave the dough to rise for 1 ½ hours until almost doubled in height.
Preheat oven to 210°C (gas mark 6 ½) ½ hour before baking.
Brush the top of the loaf with a little milk.
Place the tin in the oven but make sure you leave enough space to allow for the additional rise – it tends to go a little bit crazy in there!
After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 180°C (gas mark 4) and bake for a further 30 minutes.
It’s picnic time! Well, almost… It’s mid-April and in Edinburgh we have maximum temperatures of 8°C and wind gusts of up to 47 mph. So, not quite picnic weather yet, but I’m sure when the Scottish summer comes, it’s going to be amazing!
The unpredictable Scottish weather is exactly why a picnic loaf needs to be quick and easy to prepare here. So you can judge the weather in the morning and still have time to make a lovely loaf to be ready for the early afternoon.
This picnic bread (a recipe by Dan Lepard) will take you four hours to prepare and as Dan says, “a homemade loaf turns a simple sandwich picnic into a feast to be proud of”.
200ml warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
400g strong white bread flour (mix in some spelt flour if you like)
100g wholemeal flour
2 tsp fine salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large handful of oats (I used jumbo oats)
Optional: 1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
How to bake it
Pour the water into a large bowl, add the yeast (and chives), and mix.
Whisk in the yoghurt, add the flours and salt, and mix again.
Add a little water if the dough is too dry. It needs to have a soft, slightly sticky feel while holding its shape.
Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
Put a little oil on a clean work surface, knead the dough gently for 10 seconds, return to the bowl, cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Lightly knead once more, return to the bowl, cover, and leave for 90 minutes until risen by half.
Prepare two dinner plates: cover one with a wet kitchen towel, the other with a thick layer of oats.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Shape the dough into a loaf (use a little flour if it’s too sticky).
First, roll it over the wet-towel plate, then on the oat plate. Try to cover the loaf also on the sides.
Place it seam-side down on the baking tray.
Cover with a cloth and leave for about an hour to rise.
Heat the oven to 220°C (gas mark 7).
Cut a few diagonal slashes into the loaf.
Bake for 40 minutes, until golden.
Dan Lepard’s recommendations for this picnic loaf:
Good with soft cheese, salmon or trout, or just butter and slices of salted cucumber.
Make it without chives, so if it rains, it’s a lovely bread to have with your breakfast or brunch the next day!
Watching the first episode of Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast set in Morocco, I was (of course) inspired by the industriousness in the Moroccan bread bakery. It brought back memories of my first authentic Moroccan meal, sitting on a balcony overlooking the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh.
If you love Middle Eastern & Mediterranean food as much as I do, Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are an unbelievably wonderful resource:
Now For The Khobz Recipe…
This authentic Moroccan bread, called khobz, is a round, flattish bread with plenty of crust making it an ideal bread for dipping and scooping up tagines and salads.
I found a wonderful recipe for Moroccan bread on the Culinary Anthropologist blog and have adjusted it slightly by using wholegrain spelt instead of wholemeal wheat flour. The bread is usually flavoured with anise seeds; however, I used fennel seeds instead which worked well.
Ingredients for 2 khobz loaves (enough for 6 people)
325g strong white bread flour
50g wholegrain spelt flour (use wholemeal wheat flour as an alternative)
125g maize flour or fine polenta
5g dried yeast
350g tepid water (add slightly more if needed)
2 tsps sesame seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
Sesame seeds for the topping
Olive oil to grease the bowl and brush the bread
How to make khobz bread
Combine the flours, salt, yeast and water in a large bowl.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Knead in the sesame and fennel seeds.
Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in the bowl (moving it around to cover the dough with olive oil), then cover the bowl.
Prove the dough for approx. 2 hours (depending on the temperature in the room; it should rise significantly).
Divide the dough into 2 halves with a dough scraper and shape each part into a ball.
Prepare a baking tray and line with baking paper.
Place the dough balls onto the baking tray and flatten them with your hands to about 4 cm in height.
Sprinkle the loaves with the sesame seeds and use your flat hand to carefully press them into the dough.
Cover the loaves with a tea towel and leave for their second prove. This should take about an hour.
1/2 hour before baking, preheat the oven to 240°C.
Just before baking, brush the loaves with olive oil and make a few incisions.
Bake for approx. 30 mins.
Cool on a wire rack.
Khobz is best eaten on the day of baking. We had it with this super-tasty lamb tagine, a recipe by Antony Worrall Thompson.