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Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

When making Ballymaloe brown yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which causes the bread to rise. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast. Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. White or brown sugar, honey golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle. The dough rises more rapidly with 30g (1oz) yeast than with 25g (3/4oz) yeast.We use a stone ground wholemeal. Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead - in fact it does not require kneading. The main ingredients - wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast are highly nutritious.

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker's yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Makes 1 loaf

400g (14oz/3 1/2 cups) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) strong white flour

425ml (15floz/ scant 2 cups) water at blood heat

1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses

1 teaspoon salt

20g – 30g (3/4oz – 1oz) fresh non-GM yeast

sesame seeds – optional

1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx.

sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8.

Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 150ml (5floz/generous 1/2 cup) and crumble in the yeast – do not stir once the yeast has gone in.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.

When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (9fl oz/275ml), into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead.   Allow to sit in the bowl for 7-10 minutes (time varies depending on room temperature).   Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tin with a good sunflower oil.  Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. After about 10-15 minutes just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop into the oven 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC / 400ºF / Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises over the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.

We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put it back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there's no need to do this.


You may also use 400g (14oz/3 1/2 cups) strong stone-ground wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) rye flour


450g (16oz/4 cups) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour

Makes 6-7 loaves

2.2 kg (5lb/20 cups) strong stone-ground wholemeal flour


1.8 kg (4lb/16 cups) strong stone-ground wholemeal flour plus

450g (1lb/4 cups) strong white flour

2.4 – 2.7 litres (4 – 4 1/2 pints) approx. water at blood heat – use 900ml (1 1/2 pint) of the lukewarm water to mix with the yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) salt

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) black treacle

80g (3 1/4oz) non-GM yeast (the yeast must be fresh)

sesame seeds (optional)

6 or 7 loaf tins 13x20 (5x8inch) approx.

30/9/2019 (SH/DA) (9390)

Russian Village Bread

We enjoyed several bread courses at the Village Bakery in Cumbria with Andrew Whitley.  Andrew makes many Russian breads, one with coriander seeds on the top and bottom.  On our return we experimented with our Brown Yeast Bread, and although it is not as complex as Andrew’s Sour Dough version, it is still very delicious.

Follow the master recipe, substitute the flour with 400g (14oz/3 1/2 cups) wholemeal flour, 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) rye flour and 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) strong white flour.  Brush the tin with sunflower oil, sprinkle a layer of whole coriander seeds over the base of the tin and another layer over the top of the bread.

Follow recipe as for Brown Yeast Bread.

This is a recipe by
Darina Allen
View all my recipes

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