The Cottage Smallholder

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Guest spot: Mildred’s wholemeal undercover bread recipe

Mildred's breadDo you remember Mildred and Ian’s hedgehog villas? Mildred also makes bread every day. She starts the bread in the evening and makes it when she gets up in the morning. It stays crusty until tea time.

Like all good cooks she adapts her recipes. Finds the best tips and combines them to make her own individual recipe. This recipe, “is adapted in part from Andrew Whiteley’s ‘Bread Matters’ Book, with a bit of a twist from Elizabeth David’s bread book! The benefit of leaving the yeast overnight allowing for a longer ‘proof’ time means it doesn’t take as long to rise in the morning, and according to AW it is better for yeast to have a long time – rather than the modern style of bought bread, 10 minutes rising!

I bought my Pyrex bowls from Dunelms for about £3 – the shape of the loaf relies on the shape of the bowl so a big wide bowl wouldn’t produce a nice round loaf.”

Mildred’s wholemeal undercover bread recipe

The NIGHT BEFORE (anytime from 5pm to 10pm) put, in a medium basin:

  • 50g Wholemeal Bread flour (the Waitrose strong Canadian is fantastic, best flour ever!)
  • 100g White strong bread flour and
  • A good teaspoon dried yeast (I use Dove’s quick yeast, 6g) OR 5g fresh yeast in which case stir it into the water before you put the flour in).
  • Add 130g fresh water, just from the cold tap.
  • Stir it up, pop inside a bag and leave in the cool end of the kitchen overnight.

In the morning put the ‘sponge’ mixture into the mixer bowl along with:

  • 350g Strong White and
  • 100g Strong wholemeal flour
  • 6g salt
  • A small dollop of butter
  • Add enough water (good hand hot) usually 270g, I add about 200g and start the mixer up and watch for a minute adding JUST enough to make a stiff dough dollop. Just take your time, it will be obvious after a few times!
    I mix it while I grind my coffee . . . . about 3 mins maybe? Then I take it out of the mixer and knead by hand, I like that bit best! It feels like a big soft but firm ball of dough then.
  • Pop it back into the mixer bowl, place 2 tea towels over and leave in a warm place for one hour, it should have risen well. A bit longer if it is too cool. Mine sits on the closed cooker lid. It doesn’t take as long as usual because of the overnight rising part.
  • Put the oven on 200c ish (mine doesn’t have a temp, it feels very hot though). Make sure the oven shelf is low enough to fit a well risen loaf!
    Lift the dough out of the bowl and knead for half a minute quite firmly, shape into a round ball tucking the sides under, rather like a curled up hedgehog, place onto a tray with a shake of flour on, cut the top with a sharp knife 4 or 5 timers across. Then place the PYREX glass bowl over it – mine was from Dunelm (a 24cm one).
  • Leave it to rise a bit. If warm it takes only 15 mins, maybe 20 – again this depends on how warm your kitchen is, it doesn’t need to look full loaf sized yet, more like half sized.
  • Then put the tray, loaf AND bowl (over the loaf) into the oven! Set the timer for 30 mins.
  • When the time is up put oven gloves ON and a frying type spatula at the ready. Slide the tray out and with the spatula under the bowl edge and using the oven gloves lift the bowl off – IT IS VERY HOT so have a mat ready to sit it on, don’t do what I did and put it in a sink of water, it breaks!!!
  • Quickly get the loaf back into the oven, I spray a splash of water in the oven bottom to help crisp the crust but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.
  • Check it after 12 to 15 mins, depending on the oven heat it should be golden. Better a good brown that hardly done!
    Cool on a tray, I leave it all day as it stays crusty then for teatime!!

For a WHITE loaf just use the same quantities but use ALL white flour

  Leave a reply


  1. wow this is the best bread i have ever baked! there is one problem it doesnt last long when my grandaughter comes. i just love it

  2. cerberus

    My apologies for the mis-spelt word. It should have been ‘adventurous’. The faster I type, the more mistakes I make.

  3. cerberus

    Being an adventerous type, I like to try different methods every so often. At present I am into the method used by Frenchman Richard Bertinet. After the initial mix in my old Kenwood Mixer, I stretch the structure by ‘throwing’ the dough away from myself whilst holding on to the other end. This rather difficult to master initially, as the dough is a wet one that sticks to the fingers and table. No flour is put upon the table during this stage, as this would alter the recipe. It is fascinating to feel the dough change nature as it is stretched and then folded to enclose air into the mix. My oven is taken to its highest temperature at first, and a small pie dish of boiling water is placed on the bottom of the oven to create steam.As the loaves are placed into the oven, I spray water very quickly before shutting the oven door. This creates super steam that is necessary to form that much desired crustiness in the loaf. After ten minutes, the temperature is lowered to 220oC/425oF/Gazs Mk7 for a further 20 minutes when the loaf should tested by tapping the bottom, listening for a sharp hollow sound. If the response is a rather dull wet thud, it isn’t ready yet and should be given another 5 to 10 mins. It is very satisfying to experiment making different recipes and shapes of bread, ranging from the Epis to the large country loaf with the attractively slashed crust.As a one man household, I tend to make smaller loaves and shapes. To freeze, part-bake the bread for about 8 to 10mins, according to the size of breads being made. Obviously, a 2lb loaf would need longer or else it will sink on removal from the oven. Make sure the loaf is completely cold before placing in a freezer. Happy baking.

  4. nickwill

    Tried this bread for the first time yesterday, had to make it again today, it seems to vanish off the bread board! Really nice crust and wonderful flavour, a new family favourite!!!

  5. Love this bread. 1st time bowl was too small, bread stuck, 2nd time bowl greased but still too small, now have a 3lt Pyrex bowl and it works great. Today I made 2 loaves, one white and one wholemeal with walnuts and sultanas (my sons request)
    I do challenge Mildreds claim that the bread stays crusty ’till teatime! Mine never lasts that long!!!!!!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Cerberus

    Well done for persevering!

    Your method sounds ingenious; I must give it a go. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Success at last, but with a modified version of Mildred’s method! I made up the dough as instructed and then split it in half, one to bake and the other to freeze. This smaller quantity was put into a well buttered, loose bottomed, six inch diameter cake tin to rise again. This was then placed on a tray, under the (well buttered) inverted bowl as Mildred suggests. This smaller loaf rose up to touch the bowl base, but steam-baked extremely well. After 30 mins, the bowl was removed and the loaf taken out of the tin to finish off in the oven for a further 20 mins. Result, a deep golden crispy crust and excellent bread beneath. Perhaps Mildred’s dough was much drier than mine and so was able to maintain its form without using a tin for support! Nevertheless, my experience suggests that the wetter version makes better crumb structure.

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred

    That’s very generous of you, I’ll keep that in mind!

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