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Everyone claims to have a great family recipe for wheaten bread. I’ve experimented with a lot of recipes over the years and this is definitely the best I’ve tasted to date. It has a lovely sweet flavour but is still very much a savoury bread.
Makes 2 x 900ml (1 1/2 pint) loaves
500g (1lb 2oz) coarse wholemeal flour
125g (4 1/2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp melted butter, plus extra for greasing and serving
1 tbsp golden syrup
600ml (1 pint) buttermilk, plus a little extra if necessary
1 tbsp porridge oats
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6) and grease 2 x 900ml (1 1/2 pint) loaf tins.
Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the brown sugar, melted butter, golden syrup and buttermilk. Using a large spoon, mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. Add a little bit more buttermilk if necessary, until the mixture binds together without being sloppy.
Divide the mixture equally between the prepared loaf tins and sprinkle over the porridge oats. Bake for 1 hour, until cooked through and each one has a slightly cracked crusty top, checking halfway through that the loaves aren’t browning too much. If they are, reduce the temperature or move the loaves down in the oven.
To check that the loaves are properly cooked, tip each one out of the tin and tap the base. It should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. Tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To serve, place the brown wheaten bread on a breadboard and cut into slices at the table. Hand around with a separate pot of butter for spreading.
The beauty of this bread is that it takes so little time to prepare, but you could have everything weighed out and ready to go beforehand, though it’s hardly necessary. However, it can be frozen very successfully.
This recipe was given to me by Mary Flahavan and I liked it so much that we now make it up in batches and keep them in Kilner jars in our rooms for guests in case they’re feeling a bit peckish after a long journey but don’t want to ruin their dinner!
Makes about 36
275g (10oz) Flahavan’s Progress Oatlets
225g (8oz) butter, at room temperature
150g (5oz) caster sugar
100g (4oz) plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Blend the oatlets in a food processor until quite fine. Add the butter, sugar, flour and bicarbonate of soda and blend again until the dough just comes together.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll each one into a long sausage shape that is 15cm (6in) long and 4cm (1 1/2in) wide. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).
Using a sharp knife, trim the ends from each cookie roll and cut each roll into about 12 cookies – each one should be about 1cm (1/2in) thick. Arrange the oatmeal cookies well spaced apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until pale golden and slightly firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To serve, put into Kilner jars or arrange on a plate.
The cookie rolls keep well in the fridge for up to 1 week or can be frozen and defrosted at room temperature before using. They keep well in an airtight container for up to 1 week.