•  Baker 


Honey Wheat Bread.


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package rapid rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter




Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.

Combine milk, 1/4 cup water, shortening, honey, salt and wheat flour in food processor or bowl. Mix in yeast mixture, and let rest 15 minutes. Add white flour, and process until dough forms a ball. Knead dough by processing an additional 80 seconds in food processor, or mix and knead by hand 10 minutes. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Punch down, and divide dough in half. Roll out each half, and pound out the bubbles. Form into loaves, and place in buttered 9x5 inch bread pans. Butter the tops of the dough, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until doubled; second rise should take about 30 minutes.

Place a small pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tops are dark golden brown. Butter crusts while warm. Slice when cool.

The History of Bread Yeast

There are many different types of yeast in the environment, from those that cause fungal infection such as Candida to others that are used in the brewing industry and in wine-making

. As we shall see there is a strong connection between bread and alcohol production.

Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is something that we use all the time when making bread and pizza doughs. But how many of us know much about its origins?

Wild yeasts are single-celled microbes that are in the air all around us, on the leaves and the bark of trees, in the soil and on the skins of fruit. When did man first discover yeast and work out that if we added it to flour and water, it turned out a lighter loaf? How did we harness this knowledge? What does it mean for bakers today?

Medieval bread

A practical medieval-style bread recipe


4 cups of stoneground wholemeal flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt


Dissolve the sugar in the warm water
Add the yeast to the sugar water mixture.
Let it stand for 15 minutes.
Cook's Note: When the yeast starts to "work' with the sugar water, a brown froth appears on the surface of the liquid.
Mix flour, salt and the prepared yeast mixture together to make a dough.
Knead enthusiastically until the dough can be pulled away from the side of the bowl, or until it becomes elastic-like.
Add more water (a little at a time) or dust with flour as required to get the texture right.
Cook's Note: Within limits, the more you knead the dough, the lighter the bread will be. We just kneaded until we were tired and really 'needed' a cup of tea!
Put the dough into a large loaf tin or mould gently into flattened balls and put onto a baking tray.
Leave the dough in a warm place to prove (until it doubles in size). This can take around 1-2 hours depending on temperature.
Bake in a moderate (350 or 375 degrees) oven for approximately 45 to 55 minutes.
Cook's Note: This recipe makes excellent rolls and loaves for "same day' use. It produces a coarse texture and a fairly hard crust and fills a hungry stomach fast.


Medieval bread was very similar to the loaf we know today. According to historic sources, the taste was comparable to modern wholemeal bread made from stone-ground flour.
Unfortunately very few original bread recipes have survived the passing of time. It can be presumed that as bread was such a staple part of the medieval diet, it was not considered necessary to include it in recipe books designed to show off the quality of a host's kitchen (see History of recipes out.)
Contemporaneous accounts reveal a number of apparently 'different' breads. These include round bread rolls, flat round loaves and "trencher bread'. The word trencher comes from the French verb trenchier or trancher' which means "to cut".
A bread trencher is often described as a thick slice of dry stale wholemeal bread (typically four days old) used as a kind of "disposable' dish. However, it is known that wooden platters have been in common use since the Dark Ages. And it is hard to believe that any subsistence level peasant would allow bread to go stale just to provide throw-away plates.

History continued:

It likely that trencher bread was only served at feasts where a person of substance was paying the bill. For the wealthier host, bread trenchers were relatively cheap and had the bonus for of being easy to prepare and use. Meat with sauce was served directly onto the bread platter, which had a shallow hollow or "trench' cut into the bread to retain any gravy or juices.
Medieval meat was served in bite-sized chunks. The cut worked well on the platters and was easily eaten with the fingers or stabbed with a thin bladed knife. Slices would have been much harder to handle.
A number of fresh trenchers were used during an elaborate meal. The table was swept clean between each course and the servants removed 'all broke cromys, bonys and trenchours before the secunde cours and servise be served.'
According to some sources, a trencher was typically 'half a foot wide and four fingers tall.' An ordinary diner made their own trencher by cutting off a very thick slice from the nearest loaf, but important guests expected to be offered a pre-cut trencher.
To prepare a trencher for someone else was considered to be a medieval courtesy. A person sufficiently distinguished to receive several trenchers would have them presented on the blade of a servant's knife. They were then carefully arranged; sometimes side-by-side, in a square or in a small pile on the table. One might be set aside to act as a personal saltcellar. When cheese and small delicacies were served at the end of a meal it was customary to provide the guest with a final clean trencher.
'Whanne chese ys brouhte, A trenchoure ha (have) ye clene On whiche withe clene knyf ye your chese mowe kerve.'
Excerpt from F. J. Furnivall's "Babee's Book


Marbled Chocolate Teabread:

Seen at its best sliced, and arranged on a plate, to show off the intriguing pattern.

225 g (8 oz) butter
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour
finely grated rind of 1 large orange
15 ml (1 tbsp) orange juice
few drops orange flower water (optional)
75 g (3 oz) plain chocolate
15 ml (1 tbsp) cocoa powder
1. Grease a 900 ml (2 pint) loaf tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour.
3. Transfer half of the mixture to another bowl and beat in the orange rind, juice and orange flower water, if using.
4. Break the chocolate into pieces, put into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts. Stir into the remaining cake mixture with the cocoa powder.
5. Put alternate spoonfuls of the two mixtures into the prepared tin. Use a knife to swirl through the mixture to make a marbled effect, then level the surface.
6. Bake at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours, until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Serve cut in slices.


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