The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

kah22's picture

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

Hi guys, I’d appreciate some words of advice. I think I’m in the right forum and that this would be regarded as a quick bread.

I’ve been baking my own bread now for some time and have moved away from my breadmaking machine, to baking by hand. Most of what I do turns out fine but this past few weeks a recipe I’ve been trying just won’t cut it for me – hopefully you can offer some advice.

The recipe in question is one I’ve picked up from Darina Allen’s ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’ book, Darina entitles it the Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread. Here is the recipe:

450g Wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown treacle
425ml of water at blood heat (mix yeast with 150ml lukewarm water
25g fresh yeast (I don’t have a supply of fresh yeast so I use 12g dried active yeast)
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat over to 230C/450F/gas 6

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 150ml of water and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work.

When ready stir and pour it, with all the remaining water into the flour to make a loose dough the mixture should be too wet to knead. Put the mixture into a greased tin. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming and leave to rise.

Just before the bread comes to the top of the tin about 10-15min remove the cloth and pop the loaf into the over for 50-60 minutes.

I’ve tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible but it just doesn’t seem to come right for me. Leave it in for 50 min and the top burns. But the biggest problem is that the loaf sticks to the side of the bread pan. I’ve tried altering the temperature, and the time of baking. And I admit that my over is a little difficult to control so I’m baking at roughly 200C.

Any idea as to what might be wrong and how I might fix it. It is a yummey loaf and I really would like to get it right. My initial though is that I might need a new bread pan (how long will a reasonable bread pan last given it's only used domestically) And Darina's temperatures and times seem way out to me.

Many thanks for advice.

simon3030's picture

Not that I'm an expert, far from it, but that's an awful lot of water - normally I would use around 65% hydration, (in your recipe that would be 293g water) your recipe is around 94%...there's no kneading or even stretch & fold, so not sure how the gluten develops. Bake times - I have my oven at the max (around 240) for 10 minutes, then turn loaf and turn oven down to 200 for 30 mins. In terms of sticking - is the tin a non stick one, or do you oil it first? I have one loaf tin that is not coated, and I just leave the loaf in it for around 15 mins after taking it out of the oven, and the steam releases it from the tin.

kah22's picture

Thanks for the reply. My tin is not non stick, I do oil it first.

I do agree with you it does seem an awful amount of liquid but that's what the recipe states. Darina does say that 'the mixture should be to wet to knead.'

I will have a go at using the tempertures you use and letting the bake loaf sit for about 15 minuites before taking it from the pan.

Just found this article in the Guardian Newspaper it gives the full recipe (it's about half way down the page)


RobynNZ's picture

Had a look at the newspaper article and have a few comments:

The extended bake at the lowered 200°C is to assist with 'drying' the loaf; with such a high hydration level, it will take time to drive moisture off. She does suggest a range of time for the bake at this lowered temperature, recognizing variety in ovens and personal preference for degree of firing.

In your summary above you make no reference to the adjustment of temperature as set out in the recipe. Oven is pre- heated to 230°C and dropped back to 200°C 20 minutes after the loaf is placed in the oven. Are you able to adjust the temperature during the bake in this way? Possibly your oven is taking a long time to drop to the lower temperature.

60 years ago the oven in which this bread was developed would not have had sensitive controls some ovens have now, but the baker would have 'known' their oven and fired it accordingly. Do you have an oven thermometer ? They are not expensive and particularly with an oven which is a 'challenge' it will really pay for itself as you figure out what to do to actually achieve recommended temperatures. Be sure to check temperatures for each shelf, even if the dial says 200°C, you will find a range within the oven. You may find you need to drop the temperature back a bit earlier in order for it to reach the 200°C mark around 20-25 minutes into the bake.

Meantime, with regard the burnt top I suggest that you place the loaf on a lower shelf in the oven, and if it starts to get darker than you want, that you place a piece of cooking foil on top to shield the top of the loaf. Don't go too low or you risk the bottom burning :).

With a bit more experimenting you should be able to achieve  a suitable combination of temperature and time, in your oven to achieve a finished loaf that satisfies your preference. Just remember what you are aiming to achieve, initial high temperature to develop oven spring, and then lower temperature for longer time to thoroughly bake the high hydration dough, without burning the bread.

Have you tried seasoning your baking tin in the manner outlined in the article?

An alternative would be to line the tin with non-stick baking paper and then at the point she recommends removing the loaf from the tin you will be able to lift the loaf out using the paper and then remove the baking paper before putting the loaf back in to crisp as she suggests.

The name Ballymaloe always catches my eye/ear, enjoyed this blog post by David Lebovitz on his visit to the cooking school and noted a link at the bottom of his post to this same recipe somewhat reworked on epicurious, with one of the changes being the temperatures and times. 

Let us know how you get on.

Cheers, Robyn 

kah22's picture

RobynNZ thanks for your reply.

Originally I had just skimmed read the Guardian article but you've drawn my attention to the timings:

'Cook for 20 minutes ( 230°C/ 450°F/gas mark 8), then reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and cook for a further 40–50 minutes, until your bread looks nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped.'

I've just double checked the recipe in theBallymaloe Cookery Course  book and funny enough it does not give this indication so I'll have another go and hopefully can find a range of suitable tempertures that will suit my oven.

Oh yes I do have a small oven thermometer, and quite useful it is to.

dabrownman's picture

the temperature changes found will make all the difference.  You stay at it!  Having been lucky enough to spend 3 nights at Ballymaloe, their brown bread is just wonderful and they do make it every day.  The cookery school is next door and I believe the students are the wait staff and do much of the cooking for the hotel.  Ballymaloe is a 14th century Norman castle - just gorgeous.  To get to the staircase that leads to the castle keep, you have to climb over the bar and enter through the 'secret' doorway - if you don't get caught.  The view from there is priceless.   It is a magical place and the food is tops.  I think this bread possibly came from ancient times and, of course, it was originally a SD.  There is an Irish Brown Bread that is a SD and kneaded that is quite popular though not as popular as soda bread it seems.  I prefer these natural or commercial yeasted varieties to the Irish Brown Soda Bread.