Aga Bread

This one came to me via my friend Nel, from Mark David. It is very quick to make as there is no messing about measuring stuff and the instructions are so simple. I have a feeling the man was an engineer in a former life…

It is a softer dough than bread usually forms, but it is lovely. Eat it straight out of the oven for best effect! For those of us not blessed with an Aga, bake at 200ºC for the same time. I tend to do this one in two batches, as it is such a large recipe.

Bag of Strong White Bread Flour (1.5 kg)

2 sachets fast action yeast

1 heaped teaspoon salt

1 heaped dessertspoon sugar

32 fl oz warm water

2 tbsp. olive oil

Bung all ingredients into a large mixing bowl or food processor and knead for about 3 minutes. Dough will be soft and elastic.

Prove for about 1 hour in bowl on cloth on Aga simmering lid (covered).

Knock back, knead for one minute, then cut in half and shape.

Put on bakoglide (or Lakeland’s ‘magic carpet’) on cold shelf and prove again until double in size (1 hour)

Bake in middle of top oven for 35 minutes.

A very good addition to this is half a tin of pitted black Kalamata olives, drained of their brine, dried off a bit, and cut into smaller bits.

If you are anything like me, the rest of the tin of olives will never get as far as the fridge!

September 2001

Bara Brith

This is the real stuff, as far as I can tell. Not your cheap-skate rather boring cake-in-a-loaf-tin, but a proper bread. It is an excellent alternative to fruit loaf, and one of the best things to have come out of Wales!

10 oz strong white flour

1 level teaspoon of salt

¾ oz lard (or hard white vegetable fat)

1 oz sugar

1 level teaspoon of ground mixed spice

1 large egg, beaten

¼ pint warm water

¾ oz fresh yeast or 1 sachet dried/instant yeast

8 oz currants

4 oz sultanas

1 oz mixed candied peel

Put all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, stir them together, and make a well in the center.

Mix the beaten egg with the water, and if using fresh yeast, take two tablespoons of this to mix the yeast to a cream.

Pour the egg and water (and creamed yeast) into the bow, and mix together. Knead well to form an elastic dough, and shape into an oval shape. Place on a ‘magic carpet’ or greased baking sheet, cover with polythene, and put in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours.

Remove the polythene and bake at 180ºC for 35 minutes.

Cut in thin slices to serve, and spread with unsalted butter for the best taste!

This is a real favorite with all my family. It keeps well for several days, and if it dries out a bit, makes really good tasted cheese!

September 2001

Lardy Cake

This is a real diet killer!

The recipe gives enough ingredients for two loaves. It would be difficult to make less.

1 lb. (450 g.) strong white flour

1 level teaspoon salt

1 oz. (25 g.) lard

2 oz. (50 g.) sugar

1 oz. (25 g.) fresh yeast or one sachet of dried/instant yeast

½ pint (275 / 300 ml.) warm milk (40ºC)

8 oz. (225 g.) currants

4 oz. (100 / 125 g.) lard or hard white vegetable fat

4 oz. (100 / 125 g.) soft brown sugar

1 rounded teaspoon ground mixed spice

Sieve the flour and salt on to a working surface, or into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the lard and make a well in the center of the mixture. If you are using fresh or dried yeast, mix the sugar and yeast in a jug to a smooth, thin paste with 3 tablespoons of the warm milk. Stir in the rest of the milk and pour into the well. If you are using instant yeast, mix it in with the flour and stir in all the yeast and egg mixture. Mix vigorously to make a smooth dough. Shape into a ball and put in a large greased bowl. Cover with greased polythene and stand in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

Lightly knead the currants and sultanas into the dough, then let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes before rolling out into a long rectangle 18 by 6 in. (45 by 15 cm.).

Make the filling by mixing together the lard, brown sugar and ground mixed spice, and then spread it along two-thirds of the rolled dough. Fold the un-spread one-third over the center section and then the remaining spread section over these. Roll out the dough again to the same size as before. Roll it up from a short side like a Swiss roll. Cut the roll in half to give two rolled pieces 3 in. (8 cm.) long.

Stand each piece, cut end uppermost, in a well-greased round deep tin, 6 in. (15 cm.) across. Cover with greased polythene and stand in a warm place to rise for 40 minutes. DO NOT USE LOOSE BASED TINS!

Bake in the pre-heated oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes. Turn out of the tins immediately to let the hot filling run over the loaves and form a glaze. It will be extremely hot, so hold the tin with a thick cloth and take care not to get burned.

This is a wonderful stuff, as close as a bread can get to Christmas cake! It is very solid, and satisfying! It keeps well for about a week.


Dwarf Bread

This is a very solid bread, and rather friable, but very tasty when fresh. It is good toasted the next day, but thereafter should be used only as a doorstop or for sinking ducks! I have never tried freezing it.

This bread is greyish inside, rather than brown, because of the oatmeal and rye flour.

8oz rye flour

8oz malted wheatmeal flour

8oz pinhead oatmeal

8oz strong brown flour

2 tablespoons soya flour

2 tablespoons whole wheat grains

2 tablespoons brown rice

2 tablespoons pot barley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon muscavado sugar

1 sachet instant dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

Warm water to mix.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to a dough with the oil and sufficient water (the exact amount will depend on how dry the flour and grains are). Kneed as long as possible on a lightly oiled surface

Shape into a round lump on an oiled baking tray, and flatten slightly or cut into 8 segments with a large knife. Leave to prove in a warm place for 1½ or 2 hrs. It will get about half as big again, but not double because of the whole grains.

Bake at 200C for 35 – 40 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Serve hot with a good thick soup. Also very good with honey!

27 August 2001


Milk Bread

This comes out very white (for a home made bread!) and is truly excellent for sandwiches and toast! It’s often made into rolls and shaped loaves.

1 lb. strong white flour

1 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon white sugar

½ (10 fl oz) pint of milk (full or semi) warmed to about baby feeding temperature

1 oz fresh yeast or 1 sachet of instant

a little milk & egg wash to glaze

poppy seed to sprinkle

2 lb. loaf tin or baking sheet

Take about 3 tablespoons milk and the sugar and cream together to activate the yeast, or mix all the dry ingredients together. Add then milk (and yeast mix) and combine all together. Kneed into a smooth pliable dough (about 10 minutes is excellent). Leave to rise for a while in a warm place.

When doubled in size, knock back and shape to fit the tin*. Leave to rise again, and when half risen, brush with the egg & milk wash and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.

Bake at 220C for 30 – 35 minutes.

* You can shape this into small rolls, but they take less time to cook, so keep an eye on them! Try 15 minutes to start with. This bread also looks good as a plaited loaf, or a bloomer or cottage loaf.

27 August 2001


Ploughman’s Lunch Bread

This is a Lora Brody recipe, and truly scrumptious! Yummy, yummy!

¼ pint (5fl oz) beer

4 fl oz water

14 oz malted or granary flour

1 tablespoon Lora Brody’s bread Dough Enhancer*

scant teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon oil (I use extra virgin Kalamata Olive oil, but only because I really like it and buy it in gallon cans!)

1 teaspoon instant dried yeast

1 small onion, finely chopped

3½ oz grated cheddar cheese

Either: Proceed as for the general instructions for your bread machine, adding the cheese and onion at the beep, or before the last kneed before the rising period.

Or: Put all the ingredients into the bow of a large food processor with the dough blade attached and process until it forms a good dough.

Or: Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and combine: turn out and kneed for 10 minutes until a good elastic dough is formed.

If making by hand or in a food processor, turn into a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size, knock back and shape to suit. Leave until well risen again.

Bake at 200C for 40 minutes for a single loaf, or 20 minutes for small rolls.

The rolls look really good with an egg & milk was applied before baking.

*You don’t have to use the bread dough enhancer, but add an extra tablespoon of flour if you are not using it or the dough will be too soft.

27 August 2001


Herb bread

This is the way I have always done this, but you have to be careful to mix the garlic in VERY carefully! I find it easiest to whiz it in the mini bowl of my food processor, with the oil and a little of the water. It then combines more evenly with the rest of the ingredients, leaving less of a shock for the unwary!

2 lbs. strong white flour, or 1 lb. each of white flour and whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 heaped teaspoons mixed herbs

1 extremely well crushed clove of garlic (optional, but great for keeping vampires out of the bread bin!)

1 desert spoonful of sugar (white for white bread, otherwise I use muscavado)

1 teaspoon salt

2 sachets of instant dried yeast or (2 teaspoonfuls if you buy in bulk)

warm water to mix

Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of a large food processor and add the oil & garlic. Add enough warm water to form a good dough and kneed until a smooth elastic dough is formed.

Leave to rise until doubled in size. Knock back and either divide into two loaves or a lot of little rolls. Leave to rise again, until doubled in size, then bake for 40 minutes at 200C for loaves, or 20 minutes for rolls. The bottom should sound hollow when the bread is tapped if it is fully cooked.

27 August 2001


Bread Making Notes

And other rambling thoughts…

I have made quite a bit of bread over the last 20 or so years, and while I do not claim to be an expert, I have had some success. I usually use the food processor to make the dough because this takes so much less time, and I can sew while the bread is rising!

I have a Magimix 5100, which takes a full 3 lbs. of bread dough (warning: DOUGH, NOT flour!! I made this mistake once and overheated it! I had to wait a while for it to cool down after that… ) This means I can usually do as a single batch what most people do in two. If your food processor is smaller, you may need to halve some of the recipes. I also usually try to fill the oven, and freeze everything that won’t be eaten in the next two days. The dwarf bread never lasts long enough for this to have happened… Mind, after the first day you need a sawmill to slice it for you!

I will be adding a few more recipes to this page as time goes by. I have a good Bara Brith recipe (the bread version, rather than the rather more uninteresting cake version), and one for Lardy Cake, which is a real treat and a true diet buster!

Bread can be made quite successfully without any added fat or oil, but it tends to be dryer and not to keep as well. You can use sunflower oil if you prefer, but I usually use extra virgin olive oil for savoury breads as the flavour is so good and it’s one of the few unsaturated fats that doesn’t become supersaturated the minute you heat it. Anther good oil to use (though as expensive as extra virgin olive oil) is grape seed oil, for the same reason. You need to look for MONO-UNSATURATED oils rather than the polyunsaturated varieties.

I owe a lot of my ability to bake to my granny (sadly no longer with us) and my mother, both of whom are or were excellent cooks. Mum had a habit of welcoming all and sundry to the kitchen so long as 1: there was enough room! & 2: you did something useful, even if that meant peeling spuds or chopping carrots, blanching nuts, or stoning plums for jam! We started with the mundane and progressed to the difficult by imperceptible degrees. I learned far more about thrift and nutrition from this process than I ever did in classes in school.


One of my earliest cooking memories is stirring the scrambled eggs in a pot on the edge of the Ideal Boiler in RAF married quarters: just the perfect heat to cook them without boiling (the worst possible thing you can do to a scrambled egg!), and be just the right height for a 5 YO to see in the pot! Another enduring image is of all 3 siblings (our youngest sister must have been a babe in arms still), round Granny’s acre of kitchen table in the house in Kirkcaldy, making rhubarb pies and crumbles from Granny’s friend Mrs McKune’s donated rhubarb! John, aged about 4, was determined that what he was making was a ‘rhubarb pie-tart’! It remains one of his favourite puddings 40 years on. And I still like a small slice of early rhubarb raw, but dipped in the sugar bowl! (Tut tut, Granny!)

Some of my favourite flavours stem from these early years: stem ginger in syrup, sweet and sticky straight out of the jar, raw chocolate cake mixture, black treacle licked off the spoon used to measure it into Christmas puddings, and the crozzled toffee bits from round the edge of the crumble dish!

I still love cooking, nearly as much as I love sewing, but I could never do it for a living! I did short stints as a student, working in hotel kitchens, and that was enough, thank you! While things had improved considerably between my experiences in the 70’s and George Orwell’s in the 30’s the element of slave labour was still there. If any of you remember the Lenny Henry ‘Chef’ series, I can assure you that it was exactly like that! Boiling hot, manic panic every day, and crazy humour!

The only time I did any real cooking was in one hotel when the ‘pudding queen’ was off sick and I was asked if I could make some puddings. The chef was amused when I rejected ALL his knives as ’not sharp enough to cut butter’. I was used to my father’s knife test: if he couldn’t shave the hairs off his arm with it, it got sharpened again! I made a pile of puddings (lemon syllabub and chocolate mousse were two, plus the tipsiest trifle ever!), and when the pudding queen came back, she asked for the Madeira cake recipe I used for the trifle as there were no trifle sponges! The best day in that job was the day chef told me to lift up a pile of about 24 14" porcelain dinner plates to put them on the shelf above my head. I told him the pile was too heavy for a short person like me, and if I dropped them, I’d down tools until he swept up the mess. I duly teetered backwards, 15 of the plates slid off the heap, and I sat drinking tea while he swept up the resulting mess. Thereafter if I said I couldn’t do something because I was too short or not strong enough, he didn’t push it.

I preferred being ‘that mad woman wielding the dishwasher’ to an earlier stint as a silver service waitress. That really was hard, especially when you did a long Saturday: in to serve breakfast at 7:45 am, lunches started at 12:30pm, and two weddings in the afternoon, followed by High Tea for children at 5:30, dinner starting at 7:00, and 240 people in the function room for the dinner dance from 8:00 to 1:00 am. You were lucky to get out by 3:00am, and would be back again for breakfast… And for some reason I always had to serve the band at the dances! Perhaps I was safer doing that than tipping peas into someone’s lap in the dining room. I saved quite a few pennies that summer; thought this was minimum wage earning, I worked such long hours that I never got the chance to spend it, and I only wanted to sleep on my days off! I was never so tired again until I was teaching and they introduced the GCSE and all its attendant meetings and paperwork.

Throughout my teaching career I thought of cooking as a sort of relaxation, and bread making as stress relief! It is not so hard to get all the timing right and produce all the elements of a grand Christmas dinner for eight or ten people on time after juggling with exam candidates and classes of 32 refuzniks in a classroom with too many doors and not enough locks. Lugging two sewing machines around is also easy: they may be as heavy as a set of 30 hardback text books, though I doubt it, and they don’t all scoot off in different directions when you try to go through a swing door backwards!

Ho hum! Now I just work when the work come up, and relax with the cherub when it doesn’t. I made the decision a long time ago that if the housework could wait while I was teaching, it can still wait while I sew, or play with the boy. So long as we can see the dinner table and there’s space to cook in the kitchen, I can live with most of the cobwebs! Occasional guests will spur me into action, and I rely on a regular supply to keep me up to date with the worst of it!

Have fun with the bread recipes, and keep an eye out for more.


September 2001

New Bread Recipes!


Here are a few more bread recipes I've dug out of my files...  They are all a lot of fun, and very easy to make.


Chelsea Buns


You need a tray bake tin for this one, or a smallish high sided roasting tin.  If you do them on a flat baking tray, the edge ones spread out too far and try to escape...  Line the bottom of the tin with silicone paper, and butter the sides.


1 sachet of easy blend yeast

1 large egg

7 1/2 fl oz / 215 ml warm water

18 oz / 500 g bread flour

3 oz / 100 g sugar

pinch of salt

2 oz / 50 g softened butter.


For the filling:

Melted butter for brushing over the dough

3 oz / 75 g sultanas

1 oz / 30 g sugar

1 teaspoon sugar


Put all you dry ingredients into a large bowl or food processor and combine them together.  Add all your 'wet' ingredients and mix to a nice soft, elastic dough.  Keep kneading until it looks smooth and silky.  Put in a warm place to prove for an hour or until doubled in size.


Turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface and knock all the bubbles out of it.  knead it for a few turns, then roll into a neat oblong about 9" by 12".brush the dough with melted butter, all except a 1/2" strip along one short edge: brush this with water.  Sprinkle the buttered  dough with sugar, cinnamon and the sultanas, and roll up from the buttered short edge to the unbuttered edge.  Seal along the edge.  Brush the sausage of dough all over with butter, and slice into 12 rounds with a sharp knife.  Place each round in the baking tray about half an inch apart.  Leave to rise for about 40 minutes.  They will fill up the gaps in the tin and take on the traditional square shape with a spiral in it.  Bake at 220 C/425 F/Gas 7 for about 12 minutes.  While they are still hot, you can sprinkle them with Demerara sugar, or drizzle them with a thin water icing.  Separate the buns when they are almost cold. 


Make these buns while the family is out for the day, or they never will get time to cool down!  Chelsea buns make excellent sandwiches, cut through and spread with cream cheese and filled with home baked ham or smoked salmon!  The combination of sweet bun and savory filling just works so well...


Banana Bread


Strictly speaking, not a bread at all, but a cake baked in a loaf tin.  However, this is the best version of this I've made, and worth including, despite my pithy comments on mock Bara Brith!  If you want it for tea on Sunday, bake it on Thursday or Friday!  Best served with a generous slastering of Scottish unsalted butter.


2258 / 8 oz self raising flour (My preference is for wholemeal, but white works well too)

pinch of salt

100 g / 4 oz butter

175 9 / 6 oz caster sugar

100 g / 4 oz sultanas or light seedless raisins

25 g/ 1 oz chopped walnuts

100 g/ 4 oz glace cherries (I prefer the natural dyed ones, but you use what you like!)

2 large eggs

450 g / 1 lb peeled slightly over ripe bananas


Pile the flour, sugar and butter into a large mixing bow or the bowl of the food processor and turn into those breadcrumb things cookbooks talk about.  Having washed and dried the fruit, add all the dry ingredients, and mix together.  You will have to do this in another bowl if you start in the food processor, or you'll end up with obliterated fruit and nuts!  Mash the bananas and add to the mix with the eggs.  Keep mixing until you have a sloppy gloop of reasonably even consistency.  Pour into a greased and lined 2 lb / 23cmX13cmX5cm/9"X5"X2" loaf tin and bake in the centre of a moderate oven (180 C/350 F/gas 4) for one and a half hours.  Cool in the tin and keep several days before serving.


Yummy, if not really bread!




If you want a Scots breakfast, start with porridge and follow it with one of these rolls filled with a crisply fried slice of Ayreshire bacon, a turned over fried egg and a slice of Scots square slicing sausage or a slice or two of black pudding!  If you have room, follow it with a second filled with fresh butter and home made marmalade.  As a child I thought this the best meal of the day, eaten at about 11 am on a Sunday after an hour or two in the fresh air!  Each roll should come out roughly the size of your hand when cooked: hence the feast you can fit into it!


900 g / 2 lbs white bread flour

4 level teaspoons salt

350 g / 12 oz lard (or hard white vegetable fat)

350 g / 12 oz butter

2 level tablespoons easy blend yeast

250 ml / 8 fl oz warm water

2 teaspoons caster sugar


Blend together the lard and the butter, and divide into 3.  Mix all the dry ingredients together, add one third of the fat, and rub into fine crumbs.  Add the water and knead to a smooth dough.  roll it out to about 1/2" thick and mark into thirds.  Spread one of the remaining thirds of fat over two thirds of the dough, and fold the un-spread third over into the middle.  Fold the remaining third over the top and seal down round the edges.  Put it in the fridge to rest for 10 minutes.  Roll out again, and spread two thirds with the remaining fat.  Fold and roll once more to complete the mixture.


Roll out to about 1/2" thick and cut onto about 24 squares.  Scots bakers just tear off the dough in rough squares by eye, giving them their characteristically rustic irregularities, but I find it fairer to cut them, giving less rise to the 'his-is-bigger-than-mine' arguments that follow if I don't!  Put them on a well buttered baking sheet or two, and leave to prove until well risen and puffy.  Bake at 220 C/425 F/gas 7 for 15 - 20 minutes.  best eaten the morning they're baked!


You can freeze them, but they are never as good as when fresh.  I give this large quantity as there are never enough unless there are at least two each, and I grew up in a family of six, where there were often other strays by the time they were done!  At home in Scotland, where my granny lived within reach of a good baker, we could eat them whenever we got to the baker's in time!  Otherwise, they were occasionally made for high days and holidays because they are a bit of a skiddle.  Well worth it , though!


Back To Table of Contents