Fast No-Knead Wholemeal Bread Recipe

Hullo all!

This recipe is one that comes from total laziness – I couldn’t be arsed kneading and clearing up after, and I wanted to bake and then eat good bread. Dilemma, I know. Many would have sought the help of an electric mixer, but utilise the yeast themselves to develop that gluten and you’ll soon see how unnecessary a dough hook is.

Wholemeal bread can be tricky to work with in any case, but use this method to help you out a bit. And experiment with hybrids of this method and other kneading methods – find what’s best for you! To add a little extra flavour and longevity in this pitifully short prove, incorporate a little white sourdough starter if you can.

Although this recipe utilises the brilliance of a Dough Scraper, you can use your hands. But buy a Dough Scraper tomorrow.
Recipe (I am using double this in pictures):

300g Strong Wholemeal Flour

200g Strong White Flour

10g salt

7g sachet dried instant yeast

350g water

a good slug of sourdough starter (optional)


1: Rub dry ingredients together, keeping salt and yeast separate


2: Add water and starter, then use your dough scraper to combine into a loose dough


3: Once combined, use your scraper to pull the dough from the edge of the bowl into the middle, as shown. You should then work your way around the bowl several times, maybe 15-20 scrapes:



4: Rest the dough, covered, for 30 minutes.

5: Repeat step 3, knocking the air out of the dough and returning it to its original size as you do so.

6: Rest the dough for a further 30 minutes, then repeat step 3 one last time. This time, you may recognise the character of a properly kneaded and rested dough, with it coming smoothly away from the side of the bowl and holding its shape well.


7. Rest the dough a final 40-50 minutes, then shape, ready for its final prove (I’m utilising the power of the chopping board as a proving surface/peel in this step. Preheat baking stop 240 degrees at this step.


8. Prove until done (springs back when poked), about 50 minutes to 1 hour by this stage.

9.. Score and bake with steam at 210 or so for about 40 minutes or until your desired brownness. I screwed up here with some overzealous scoring, but hey! I have bread, I didn’t do any kneading, it took less than 3 and a half hours. DONE.


Parsnip upside down cake recipe

I’m not sure I’m allowed to even post this up here, but I’m sure  it can do no harm! It’s cake! Anyway, if I just tell you the sponge is adapted from the oliver peyton carrot cake, with pears and a simple caramel.

Recipe: makes one 9 inch cake.


225g unsalted butter

225g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g self raising flour

6g baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp High Quality Vanilla

225g Small Parsnips (peeled and grated weight)

200g Pecan nuts
For Caramel:
4 Pears
50g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
Preheat oven to 170 degrees
Grease (and line) springform 9 inch tin.
Peel and core pears, slice into thin slices and leave uncovered in fridge to oxidise and dry slightly
Peel and grate Parsnips. Crush pecans lightly, add to parsnips and set aside
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla.
Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into cake mix, half at a time. Mix each untilHARDLY incorporated.
Fold in parsnip/pecan mixtures, leave. Very, very gently.
Heat butter and sugar for caramel together until dark caramel.
Pour caramel onto lined cake tin and arrange the pears in a fan (thick side out) shape on top, in one direction.
Arrange cake mixture on top
Bake 25 minutes, reduce temp to 160, bake another 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean

How to make Homemade… Proving Baskets

I write this from Shetland, my family home and where I grew up. Down sooth, in Glasgae, I live during term time. And when coming home for the summer, there’s a few things you absolutely cannot forget: dough scraper, digital scales, an array of cookbooks and, most importantly of all, proving baskets.

Unfortunately, I left my two best brotforms with only each other for company and was forced to improvise. Soon, those horrible memories flooded back, of overly wet sourdough stuck to tea towels. Ruined. But actually, I am so happy with the results of those many failed attempts that I thought I’d let you know how to make them. It’s mostly common sense – but just remember a few things: A LOT OF FLOUR, but no matter how much flour, if your dough isn’t tight then it is going to stick.


Step 1: Get yourself some strong flour (preferably a light Rye, but white is more available and cheaper), some bowls (or baskets, anything round shaped) and a some tea towels that have seen better days


Step 2: Flatten the tea towel on your surface and coat a (bigger than) bowl sized area very liberally with flour


Step 3: Spread the flour evenly across the tea towel. As the flour becomes more engrained into the fabric, you’ll probably want to add more, as the towel can ‘absorb’ quite a lot!


Step 4: Carefully, so as not to dislodge the flour, place the towel inside the bowl. These nice round ikea ones are particularly good! Then sprinkle them with MORE flour!


Step 5: Add your shaped dough, and sprinkle some more flour round the edge just to be sure, as the sides never quite get as well coated as the bottom.


Though please do remember – any proving basket has the potential to stick if the gluten is arranged in the wrong direction. Always shape tightly, and preshape and fold when appropriate. Once your dough is proved, overturn onto a floured peel/board, score and pop in the oven to bake.

Wessex Mill Flour – Malt(y) Loaf

Being in Shetland, in a particularly rural part of Shetland, you can’t expect the single local shop to cater for every need of the home bread baker. To my surprise, though, it stocks an odd range of flours from Wessex Mill in Oxfordshire, including “Mixed Pepper and Basil Bread Flour” and this one, “Malt Loaf Bread Flour”:

Now, initially, I had a few issues. I know the littlest about milling or what goes into production, but this one just seemed a little weird:

  • Yes. That is Comic Sans. How any flour could have Comic Sans as its main typeface and then satisfy baking needs is beyond me. Just no.
  • Instructions to use 100% of this flour, in a breadmaker. Right, it all becomes clear. This is a flour blend, including 15% malted flour, designed not to be fiddled with. That sounds good, 15% malt doesn’t sound like very much…
  • Until you open the packet. This flour is DARK. Really dark, and definitely not wholemeal. It looks like its been tossed in brown food colouring before packing.

I hesitate. I managed to pick up a simple strong Hovis white flour packet alongside it, so I thought I would compromise. 20% of this Malt Loaf Bread Flour, 80% white. Meaning 3% pure Malted Flour, 97% White. It couldn’t be that bad…


And it really wasn’t. It produced a subtle loaf with an immensely dark crumb, which is odd because it looks like it should be a barrage of maltiness. This is the recipe I used:


Recipe – Makes One Malt(y) Loaf

400g Strong White Flour

100g Wessex Mill Malt Loaf Flour

350g Tepid Water

100g White Sourdough Starter

7g Sachet Fast Action Yeast

10g Salt.


1. In a large bowl, rub the yeast and salt into the flour, then combine all the ingredients into a rough dough. Use your dough scraper, starting at the side of the bowl, to bring the edges of the dough into the middle, going all around the sides, for about 20 seconds. Leave to rest for 40-50 minutes.

2. The dough should be risen. The yeast will have done most of your kneading for you, but do your best to knock all the air out your dough and bash it around a bit, just to make sure the gluten is well developed. Rest the dough for a further hour to hour and a half, or until doubled in size.

3. Shape the dough into desired shape. To make the shape pictured, I simply made a traditional boule, then continued to tighten using the sides of my hands under the dough, but just in one place. If doing this, make sure the front and back of the dough are as tight as the middle.

4. Prove for a further hour on a very heavily floured board or proving basket, and preheat your oven to 240 degrees with your baking stone inside.

5. When ready, the dough should spring back to its original shape when poked. Score the bread with desired pattern, then slide onto hot stone. Pour half a cup of water onto the bottom of the oven the quickly shut the door. Turn it down to 220 degrees (200 fan).

6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until desired crustiness and colour. Watch it though, as the crust is so dark it will be easy to burn without noticing.


Gluten-Free Brownies

Now matter how much evidence there is for a Gluten-Free diet in your case, don’t worry, these brownies are better than equivalent Gluteny ones. Their texture is perfect, just holding together, and they don’t end up all dry round the edges and sunken in the middle.


Some keen-eyed bakers may recognise certain similarities to Nigel Slater’s Very Good Brownie recipe; that is because Nigel is the outright Brownie Champion, and it would be sin to deviate too far from his holy text. It might be a good idea to to dunk your tin in water as soon as its out the oven to stop the edges overcooking, but if you’re using a springform tin then Definitely Do Not Do This.  Adding a little extra salt makes it even more chocolatey.



250g Dark Chocolate

250g Salted Butter

150g eggs + 1 yolk (if you’ve been making meringues recently, use up the yolks instead of whole eggs here for extra richness)

300g caster sugar

75g Dove’s Self Raising Gluten-Free Flour

60g cocoa powder + more for dusting

Filling of choice – raspberries or nuts I’d say!


1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees (150 fan) and line your Brownie tin (8 inch square?)

2. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. You can do this very quickly in a microwave, but make sure the butter and chocolate are in bits and stir regularly so they don’t burn or explode.

3. Whilst they are melting, whisk egg and sugar together in another bowl for about a minute or so; until they are just noticeably lighter in colour to what they were before.

4. In one further bowl, sift together your flour and cocoa and salt.

5. Quickly, whisk in your chocolatey buttery mixture into your egg mix then, very, very gently, fold in your sifted flour and cocoa and salt.

6. Pour into tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out with sticky crumbs stuck to it but not quite clean.

7. Cool completely before cutting and serving – they’re very best the next day!

This tray was made with double the above recipe. According to my fellow Great British Baker John Whaite (@flour_and_eggs), a little mayonnaise improves any Brownie, so please experiment! Two of my older brothers insist the best brownies must include illegal substances.

Super Sourdough at Home [Advanced]

This is a recipe for someone who is used to bread and sourdough baking, and would like a simple white recipe to be their staple at home. It really is as simple as a Sourdough gets, as it requires no sponge or pre ferments or slow pitching or any of that faff. It does require care, though, and is unique in that it is centred around a serious home baker approach as opposed to a professional approach. This recipe assumes you know the basics of bread.


A few words on your starter:

Your sourdough starter should ideally be kept at room temperature (18-24 degrees) with as little fluctuation in temperature as possible. The ratio of strong white flour to water should be kept at 1:1 and, to steal the term from beer brewing, the pitching rate should be kept constant (this is simply how much you feed it compared to how much starter there is – try and feed it with about twice the weight of starter that remains after use. If you don’t use your starter on a particular day, pour some away to keep this ratio constant). Additionally, this recipe assumes the activity of your starter is high, and that it is used as it is fed with the full amount of flour required for your daily bake every 24 hours, as it is used.


But even if you don’t abide by those strict starter rules (I must admit, I often don’t), my rules to the perfect simple white home sourdough are simple and easy and should be followed:

  • STARTER should be ONE:ONE ratio of flour and water
  • Use HALF the weight of STARTER to your weight of FLOUR
  • Add enough water to keep the OVERALL HYDRATION at 75%


Easy huh? A worked example:

To make a loaf using 400g white flour, we add 200g starter. This means we have a total of 500g flour and 100g water so far. To bring the hydration to 75%, we can work out that we need a total of 375g water total. Therefore, 275g water should be added to bring it to 75% hydration. Of course, make normal adjustments, and add a little more water if your starter is more active or less water if less active.


Recipe (makes one large loaf):

400g Strong White Flour (just go ahead and order a sack from Shipton Mill…)

200g White Sourdough Starter

275g Cold Water

10g Salt


1. Mix together water and starter and flour until combined. Cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

2. Add salt and knead fully (none of this Dan Lepard stuff) until passes the windowpane test. I would recommend the stretch and fold method – this maximises exposure to oxygen, and aerobic metabolism during and just after kneading is key to producing maximum CO2 and therefore maximising gluten formation, especially in a slow rise. This means you can forget about it later on – folding during the first prove isn’t all that essential. See my post on The Fresh Loaf for evidence)

3. Cover and rest depending on what suits you: approx 6 hours at room temperature should be enough. Alternatively, just chuck it in the fridge overnight.

4. Shape (you can preshape if you like: if rested overnight it might be a bit floppy – just shape it loosely, except try and use no flour. 30 mins later just shape again) and transfer to basket or brotform

5. Prove for another 4-6 hours at room temp until done. You can retard this prove too if you like, but I wouldn’t do both as the sourness can be a little too much (though works well if starter is on 12 hour cycle), and if you retard this prove you’re crumb isn’t going to be quite as tight.

*** Baking instructions are my recommended, but just on stone or in a pot I’m sure will be fine ***

6. Preheat baking stone at 240 degrees, then add in a cast iron pot (Le Creuset or similar or a dutch oven) with lid on about 20 mins before you’re going to bake.

7. Turn down oven to 210, score and bake loaf in the pot for 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pot and turn out the bread (bread can be frozen or kept back at this point) and bake on the stone for a final time until done (another 20 minutes or so).

Happy baking!





This, I suppose, is my first blog post. This should be a momentous occasion (I’ve never had a blog before), but I’m ill and tired and have work tomorrow so will keep it brief. The whole big idea is to blog the progress of the Great British Bake-Off Series 3 as it airs, as I am competing (in the flimsiest sense of the word) with 12 other bakers for the title.


This is a temporary website that I hope will someday grow into greater things. So far… we’ve got 1 recipe! But it’s a good one. Please try it out!


Thank you for listening and I hope to see you on BBC2 at 8pm on the 14th August!




Banana Bread

Semantically, it’s a bread. But in reality it’s a cake and one of the most brilliant cakes at that; eternally moist and so, so easy. Banana bread is my favourite cake and this is my favourite recipe, stolen straight from the illustrious Kember and Jones in Glasgae, who I used to proudly wash dishes for.

Not only is it dead easy, this recipe downright healthy: 2 less eggs and half the butter of an equivalent sized Viccy Sponge, replaced with wonderful, Potassium filled bananas. Just try not to eat it all at once.

Banana Bread

– Makes enough for one 2lb Loaf Tin / two 1lb Loaf Tins / one 9-inch Springform Cake Tin

125g soft butter

250g caster sugar

3-4 over-ripe bananas

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

250g plain flour (you can use SR flour if you like, just omit baking powder and make sure its in date!)

3 tsp baking powder


1. Preheat oven 160 (150 fan) and grease and line your tins.

2. With a spoon, mix the butter and sugar together until combined (you don’t need to go to much effort, just until its a paste)

3. Mix in the bananas, eggs and vanilla until you’ve got a lumpy wet mix.

4. In another bowl, weigh the flour and mix in baking powder.

5. Very slowly and carefully, fold the flour into the wet mix until no flour is visible but the mix is still lumpy. If any flour becomes visible as you are pouring into your tins, just lightly mix it in with your spoon.

6. Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.


Liven this recipe up with a punnet of any berries (Raspberries are my fave). Alternatively, 100g chocolate chips work very well, as do pecans, oats and honey. Remember to toss any filling in a little flour before folding in at the end – this stops it sinking to the bottom as well as (in the case of fruit) to stay whole.


Happy Baking,