Tag Archives: bread making

Marmite Bread

Last week, in my post about my top three books for beginner bread makers I mentioned Marmite bread, with reference to James Morton’s book Brilliant Bread, where I got the initial idea for this recipe. (It’s a great book that should be on everyone’s shelf.) I offer Marmite bread as a choice for people to make on my full day Bread Basics course and it will be a recipe that will be included in my upcoming online course because it one of my absolute favourites.

My mentioning Marmite bread prompted Tony to get in touch and ask if I had published the recipe on here yet. It is included in my recipe book but Tony was one of the first people to attend one of my bread making courses, way back in May 2015, and as learning to make bread is a lifelong adventure I hadn’t come across James’ Marmite Bread at that point.

So this post is especially for Tony, as a thank you for his support for all of this time.

Even if you hate Marmite I urge you to try this recipe just once because I promise that it doesn’t have to taste marmitey, if you reduce the Marmite to 30g (don’t go lower or there is no point in adding it at all) all you get is a deep savoury taste to your loaf which is absolutely delicious and fantastic with soups and stews, but please try the 40-45g first as it really is lovely even for the Marmite haters amongst us (weird creatures). It also makes delicious toast which can, of course, be spread with yet more marmite for a double hit. Can you tell I am a Marmite lover?

Note of caution though – Marmite is salty so reduce the salt that you would normally add otherwise the loaf will be too salty. Also, don’t do what I did once and overdo it on the marmite front. I got cocky in a class one day and added two spoonfuls instead of my usual one spoonful and whilst everyone else’s loaves rose beautifully mine remained as flat as a pancake. The saltiness of the Marmite will kill the yeast if you go overboard. Lesson, well and truly learned.

500g strong white flour or you could replace 100g with 100g wholemeal or 50g rye & 50g wholemeal
5g easy bake/ instant yeast or 15g fresh yeast (remember that you can reduce the yeast and allow the bread to rise longer)
5g fine salt
45g Marmite
340-380g water (depending on flour choice)

Place the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl and mix together. Weigh the Marmite out in a jug and pour over 100g hot water and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool a little and then add to the flour. Add another 200g of warm or cool water (if you use cool water your dough will take longer to prove which improves the texture and flavour). Start to mix, adding splashes of water in until you get a dough that is soft and slightly sticky. Make sure that there are no dry bits in your dough. Leave to rest for at least ten minutes or up to an hour depending on how your day is going.

Knead your dough or use the stretch and fold method as I demonstrate in this video.

Cover well and leave to prove until airy, remember it will take longer for it to prove if you used less yeast or cooler water. You can also pop it in the fridge at this point for several hours or overnight if that fits better into your day.

Shape your dough. I show you how to shape for a loaf tin or as a batard/ bloomer in this video.

Cover with clingfilm or similar, remember to oil it well so it doesn’t stick to the loaf and deflate it. Allow to prove, again this can happen overnight in the fridge if it suits you.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade, gas mark 7 or use the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga. Steam the oven well as you put your loaf in, I like to use a plant mister to do this, spraying several times (avoiding the glass door and light). Bake for 30 minutes, check that it is baked by tapping on the bottom, it should sound hollow or insert a temperature probe and check that it reaches 90 degrees centigrade. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and I promise you will love it even if you hate Marmite.

Reducing the amount of yeast you use for your loaf

In these strange COVID19 times many of us are wanting to make our own bread but are finding it hard to get flour and yeast easily. If you have yeast and are worried that you may run out soon, remember that your bread will still rise if you use only one-third of a sachet of easy bake for every loaf. It will take longer to rise, but will be all the better for it, taste wise, as a result. You can also develop a pre-ferment using a tiny bit of yeast, which will, over a few hours, multiply the yeast cells to raise a delicious, chewy loaf that will last longer than your usual loaf. All bonuses. The following text is taken from my booklet on Advanced Doughs, so if you have been on my Ciabattas and Baguettes course you will already have this knowledge at your fingertips. But I hope this will serve as a timely reminder or if you haven’t been on an advanced course this will help you to learn new skills during lockdown.


Using Pre-ferments
You can improve the flavour of your bread by using a pre-ferment. Your loaf will not only have a more developed flavour but also a chewier and glossier crumb and better keeping qualities. 

A pre-ferment is simply preparing part of your dough several hours before you make your final loaf. There is a lot of conflicting and complicated information about pre-ferments and many names for it out there on the internet so I aim to keep it simple.  

A pre-ferment differs from a sourdough culture because the pre-ferment uses commercial yeast rather than wild yeast from the air.  A pre-ferment cannot be endlessly revitalised like a sourdough culture. When it’s ready to use, it’s ready to use. An over-fermented pre-ferment will have collapsed and the yeast will have weakened the dough, stripping its gluten and this will make a weaker and flatter dough that will fail to rise.

The pre-ferment will improve your everyday bread, is essential to a ciabatta and makes a proper baguette.  It will also help to improve the flavour of a sweet dough, helping the dough to rise through the fats and the sugars. It can be used in any of your bread recipes to improve the flavour. 

There are three main types of pre-ferment – the poolish, the big-a and the pate fermentee. 

Pate fermentee means ‘old dough’. It is often used by traditional bakers to improve the flavour of their loaf.  It is as simple as retaining a piece of dough after the first rise and before shaping and popping it into the fridge to use the next day in the next loaf. Pate fermentee has salt in it, something to consider when you add salt to your final dough. So, if you are baking regularly at the moment, consider taking 50-100g of the dough and wrapping it well and placing in the fridge. You can then add more flour and water (and a reduced amount of salt, say 6g to every 500g flour as a maximum) to this ‘old’ dough and use this to rise your loaf instead of using yeast. This ‘old’ dough will be good to use for a maximum of three days.

The poolish is often used in French bakeries. It is a wet pre-ferment, 100% flour, 100% (or more) water and a little bit of yeast. It is left to develop between 8 and 16 hours. The amount of yeast that you add depends on several factors. If you want to use the poolish in 8 hours time you need a little more yeast than one you want to use in 16 hours. If it is summer and the kitchen is warm then you will need less yeast than on a cold winter’s day when the kitchen is cold.  You don’t add salt to a poolish until you make the final dough.  As a guide, I use one-eighth of a teaspoon, or a pinch, of easy bake (aka instant) yeast to 100g flour and 100g water and leave it to get very bubbly on the surface and then add 400g flour, 200g -250g water (adding the extra 50g as and when it is needed according to the flour) and 5-10g salt and make bread in the usual manner.

The biga is Italian and very similar to a poolish, except that it is a much drier mix. You use 100% flour to 50-55% water and a little yeast.  Because it is a drier dough it takes longer for it to reach full fermentation. This means that it can be made up to 18 hours (kept in the fridge) ahead of making up your final dough. It is less likely to lose its gluten strength than a poolish and because of the longer fermentation time it means that it potentially has time to develop extra flavour with the acetic and lactic acids having more time to get to work. So, I will use one-eighth teaspoon (or a pinch) of easy bake yeast to 100g flour and 50-55g water and mix to a smooth dough. Leave to ferment until doubled in size (several hours in a warm kitchen or 18 hours in a fridge) and then add 400g flour, 275-300g water and 5-10g salt and proceed as usual.

Pre-ferments can make up to 50% of the final dough. The more you use the less time is needed for the first and second rise of your bread. The less you use, the longer the fermentation time, but the better the flavour development of your final loaf.

You can choose whether you give your final dough an extra boost with a little more yeast. If you add more yeast then you reduce the time the dough needs for its first and second rise.  If you do add more yeast then reduce the final amount by at least half. So, if you normally use 5g of easy bake in a 500g loaf then you will only need 2g of total easy-bake yeast in a dough using a preferment. This might be 0.5g in the pre-ferment and then 1.5g to use as a boost in the final dough. 

I hope this helps you to use less yeast to make delicious bread. If you need any more bread help, I am always at the end of an email.
If you have very limited access to commercial yeast this may be the time to think about starting your sourdough journey. I have a post about making a sourdough starter here.

Using Freshly Milled Flour

Komo flour mill

The photo shows my Komo flour mill in action. Using freshly milled flour makes a huge difference to the taste of your bread, cakes, scones and biscuits. When you mill fresh flour the flour smells of wheat. That may sound obvious but I am yet to open a bag of flour and smell the wheat in the same way that you smell it when it is freshly ground. Using freshly milled flour in your baking will lead to your bread and cakes etc tasting and smelling sweet and delicious. Freshly ground wholemeal flour is as nutritious as flour can get. As flour ages it loses its nutritional value. If you are grinding the flour minutes before using it, you get the full nutritional benefit.

Using freshly milled flour in bread making is not without its challenges however. As flour ages the gluten stabilises. It takes two weeks for gluten to stabilise fully. This is why flour from large mills tends to be aged artificially by oxidising the flour before being sent out to retail. Most flour that you buy has been sitting in warehouses and on the shop shelf for longer than two weeks since milling. Using freshly milled flour means that you are working with weaker gluten. The flour is stickier to work with, it takes a while to absorb the water as you add it and it can seem to be able to take a lot more water than normal but then will leach the water back out after allowing the dough to rest. It takes some getting used to when working with freshly milled flour for bread, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. The taste and fragrance more than compensates for the slightly denser loaf.

When using freshly milled flour in cakes, biscuits or scones the less stable gluten can work in your favour adding a tenderness and lightness to the finished bake that you can’t get when working with an aged wholemeal flour. Using freshly milled wholemeal flour in a Victoria sponge results in an incredibly light and tasty cake. The biscuits and scones will taste better than any you have ever tasted before.

If you would like to learn more about using freshly milled flour in your baking you can join me for a full day class where we will use freshly milled flour to make bread, biscuits and scones. I will also be talking about the benefits of freshly milled flour at this year’s Ludlow Food Festival. This year’s festival promises to be better than ever as they celebrate 25 years. I am doing a Talk and Tasting at 11am on Friday 13th September all about freshly milled flour and you can also catch me later the same day at 3.15pm in the Bake in Time tent talking about bread making.

http://www.ludlowfoodfestival.co.uk/whats-on-at-ludlow-food-festival

The Veg Patch Loaf Project Instalment 1

I have had the Veg Patch Loaf Project in my mind for the last year or so. The idea is that I will plant wheat in our veg patch next to our bread kitchen. This wheat will grow, (unfettered by bad weather, pest, disease or squirrel) and at the end of this year I will bake a loaf from home-grown wheat.

Well, I have finally managed to plant my wheat seeds today.  I had hoped to plant some winter wheat seeds in the autumn last year, but with life being busy I didn’t get round to it somehow. I thought that perhaps I had missed the boat. Then, I was reading the latest copy of True Loaf magazine from The Real Bread Campaign and an article reminded me of The Brockwell Bake Association and their project to encourage allotmenteers, schools and community projects to grow heritage wheat. I visited their website and was very pleased to find that I could still order some spring wheat seeds from them. I know that I am far behind most farmers and growers but this is my first time attempting to grow wheat so even though I am really hoping I will get a small crop my expectations for success are fairly low. I am just going to give it a go and see what happens.

Brockwell Bake Association sent me 40g of April Bearded seed.

Here is the planted plot and how it looks today:

The wheat patch at Veg Patch Kitchen

The wheat patch at Veg Patch Kitchen

The plot is roughly 3m x 2m with a path through the middle so I can get in and weed.  I broadcast the seeds randomly, raked them in and then used a large piece of cardboard (a Shipton Mill delivery box as it happens) laid on the soil to tread the seed in. The canes and string are there as a collie disruption mechanism, in other words to stop our collie, Rascal, from digging up my seeds. For some reason his favourite game is to dig large holes in this particular patch.

I am an erratic gardener. I try my best every year to be better than the last. We always have a degree of success and a fair few meals from our garden every summer and autumn, but my gardening leaves a fair amount to be desired. Inevitably the weeds get the better of me.  I hate pulling up self-seeded borage, nasturtiums and poppies because the bees and other pollinators love them so much.  As a result our veg tends to be a little drowned out by these. Only the very strong wins through.  I am going to try my hardest to be a diligent weeder of the wheat patch and I am hoping that the squirrels and pigeons give me a break when it comes to harvest time (if the crop survives that long).  I will report the progress of the Veg Patch Loaf throughout the season. I very much hope I will be able to post a loaf that uses at least a bit of the wheat later in the year.  Watch this space.

Ludlow Food Festival

I was invited by Wot’s Cooking to join them on their Talks and Tastings stage at this year’s food festival at Ludlow. The Talks and Tastings was a more intimate affair than the larger chef demo stages, helping the audience to get a bit closer to the action.

The setting couldn’t have been better.

Talks and Tasting stage Ludlow Food Festival

Ludlow Castle is wonderful and if you haven’t visited before and get the chance make sure you take the opportunity. It has wonderful little rooms like this one, which once you pass through that magical door is rather majestic inside. I doubt when it was used as a castle is was quite as majestic as it is now, it was probably poky, smelly, dirty and cold in there, but now, now it is majestic.

Inside were tables and chairs for about thirty people and a small stage up front for the speaker. When I arrived on the Friday I managed to catch some of the talk by the cheese monger from Ludlow Food Centre. He had bought a whole wheel of delicious cheese, which at the end of his interesting talk he used a very large knife to crack open to share samples.

While I waited for my turn on the stage I took a walk around the festival site within the castle walls.  I haven’t been for a few years.  Several years ago I judged the Sausage Trail for a couple of years, but it usually clashes with my eldest daughter’s birthday celebrations so it is a festival we normally miss out on.  I was impressed by how many improvements had taken place.  The flow through the stalls was much better than previous years and there are now several stages of varying sizes where you can take a pew and watch chefs and local food producers doing their thing.  There is certainly plenty to see and do.  I nipped into the Castle tearooms for a quick cup of tea before strolling back to the Talks and Tastings and managed to catch most of the talk by Our Lizzie.  She specialises in teaching vegetarian and vegan food and her quinoa dish sounded delicious, unfortunately I missed out on one of the tasting pots that were handed around.

My talks and tasting was, of course, all about bread making and an attempt to help others catch the bread making bug. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope I spread the bread love.

Jon was managing the stage and took this photo of me in action – one day I hope to be photogenic…

Kath Veg Patch Kitchen

Grow Local

Breads at Grow Local

The table of goodies at Grow Local

On Sunday, Veg Patch Kitchen spent the day at The Greenwood Centre in Ironbridge at the annual Grow Local event run by Transition Town Telford. It’s a lovely community day, with lots of plants available to buy from local growers or you can take your garden tools to be sharpened and experience how to look after chickens in your garden. I had been invited to have a stall to promote Veg Patch Kitchen as a local business and shared a space in the barn with Taste Not Waste and Molly’s Vegetarian Kitchen. Taste Not Waste takes surplus food from local supermarkets and sells it cheaply to encourage people to eat healthily whilst avoiding food waste. Molly, of Molly’s Vegetarian Kitchen has recently set up her catering business providing vegetarian food for events or to eat at home.

It was a great event, busy with local folk buying plants and enjoying the sunshine. It was the first time I have baked bread to sell and it’s quite a different experience from teaching people to make bread. I took along white sourdoughs, brown sourdoughs using freshly milled Shropshire Soissons grain (milled with my Komo mill), focaccia, Chelsea buns and Shropshire butter buns. I had sliced a loaf or two as samples and we sold out. I later had texts and tweets to tell me how much the buns and the bread were enjoyed. It was a great day and I loved the experience.

Food festival appearances

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy. On Saturday 23rd July I demonstrated bread making at Cosford Food Festival. It was the first time I had presented on a chef demo stage and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

In full flow

In full flow

The next weekend saw me on the chef demo stage at the first Telfood Feastival in Telford’s Town park. This time I was demonstrating bread making in the context of additive free. I discussed the difference between the Chorleywood bread making process (the supermarket loaf) and the loaf you can make at home.

Telfood Feastival

I enjoyed both weekends very much thanks to the organisational skills and professionalism of the Wots Cooking team and I am looking forward to my next time on stage.

Class on 3rd May 2015

We had a wonderful day of baking this Sunday. Three students joined us for a class using different flours. We started the day with tea and cake (as usual) and also sampling a wholemeal spelt and a khorasan loaf that I had made the day before. We then got stuck in making a spelt loaf (some of us made wholemeal and some mixed white and wholemeal spelt) and a khorasan (Kamut) loaf. We used the folding method for the doughs as neither spelt or khorasan benefit from vigorous kneading. The loaves were beautiful when they came out of the oven and word has come through from our students that they were much enjoyed at home. Just before lunch the students were given the choice of making an olive oil dough or an enriched dough. Together they turned out a very tasty looking focaccia with olives, rosemary and sea salt, some gorgeous looking iced buns and some very sticky chelsea buns. We finished the day off by making tortillas on the Esse.

As always, there was much laughter and fun had during the day and we shared a delicious lunch prepared by Leena and drank plenty of tea. I have received some very positive comments from the students about how much they gained from and enjoyed their day with us at Veg Patch Kitchen and that lifts my heart. I must say, I really do love my job.

I was enjoying the day so much that I forgot to take photos of the cooling breads. Silly me!

If you would like to join us at a future class please do contact us.

25th January Baking Course

We had a wonderful day of baking with three lovely ladies last Sunday. The course was bought as a present for one of the ladies’ special birthdays. A lovely day of celebration was had, with lots of tea, cake and a tasty lunch. We made some enriched dough, with two of the course participants choosing to make chelsea buns, another chose hot cross buns and I made iced fingers. They were all absolutely delicious. In fact, the hot cross buns were the best I have ever tasted.

We also made some focaccia and fougasse from an olive oil dough, which looked amazing. I was so pleased to hear that  the focaccia has been a big hit back home and that one of the ladies’ sons has made it himself in the week since the course so that he can enjoy it at breakfast time. That is why I started these courses, to hear stories just like that.

25th Jan course participants

   A happy day of baking

25th Jan breads

The goodies produced during the day