Recipe Makes two large 12”round loaves.

This nutty, slightly bitter bread is a crowd pleaser. Great for dinner parties: as a starter with charcuterie and cheeses or simply with a homemade soup. We shape ours in an old sponge tin to give it a round appearance. It keeps well in a paper bag once cooled and does not lose it’s qualities once frozen. This recipe, found in Paul Hollywood’s book is easy to make and extremely rewarding. Our loaf has a real local story behind it.

The flour comes directly from our local mill, set in the stunning Hertfordshire countryside, on the river Ver between St Albans and Redbourn


  • 600g Redbournbury unbleached strong white flour 
  • 150g Redbournbury strong wholemeal flour
  • 15g dried yeast
  • 15g fine table salt
  • 60g soft butter
  • 555ml to 600ml Red Squirrel Ale (or similar) at room temperature (not from the fridge)


In a large mixing bowl add flours, butter, yeast on one side, salt on the other. Pour in the beer slowly and bring the dough together to form a ball.  You may need a dash of water if it’s too dry. It needs to be soft to touch but not wet.

Tip out on to an oiled worktop and kneed the dough for a good 10-15 minutes until the dough forms a smooth skin and is soft to touch. Alternatively, place in a mixing machine on a slow kneed for 6-8 minutes until smooth and soft.

Pop the dough into a floured bowl somewhere warm for about 2 hours or until double in size.

Tip the risen dough out onto a floured worktop, fold the outside of the bread until all the air has gone. Roll into a sausage and divide into 2 balls. Put one to aside with a damp cloth on the top. Divide each ball into 9 (1 slightly larger than the rest and 8 smaller balls.

In a greased and floured sponge tin, place the larger ball in the center with the smaller 8 balls equally positioned in the tin so they are touching each other. Cover with a damp cloth and leave aside until dough has doubled. At this stage I dust with wholemeal flour and using a pair of clean scissors snip 1” into each ball giving it its own character.

Spray with a little water and bake in the oven at 210°C for approximately 30 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow once turned out.

Leave to cool, it’s so tempting to cut a cheeky slice off however it will crush the structure if you do so (you’ve been warned!)