Herby bread

By all accounts the flour available during wartime Britain wasn’t the most palatable.. White flour wasn’t available but rather a wholemeal/wholewheat blend (about 80%) that contained as much husk as possible (nothing was wasted)..

I made this delicious herb loaf this morning using organic wholemeal/wholewheat mixed with organic white flour in an 80/20 split to try and replicate something similar. But today I wanted something extra delicious so I looked in my cupboard and found dried thyme and olive oil. Before using them I checked to make sure both were available during the 1940s and I do see the mention of olive oil and thyme in the occasional recipe.

One thing I haven’t found yet is a mention of a herb loaf in a wartime recipe book but my thoughts were, any foody during the war would have absolutely done something to zing up the grey, insipid looking flour that had to be used in a bread recipe..

If anyone comes across a herb bread recipe in a wartime cookery book or on the internet, can you let me know? I’d love to be proved right 🙂

Herby Bread

  • 1 lb of wholemeal/wholewheat flour mixed with white (80/20)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 large pinches of salt
  • dried herbs to taste (I used 3 teaspoons of thyme)
  • 2.5 teaspoons of quick rise yeast (during the war they would have used traditional yeast)
  • warm water
  • 2 x 1/2lb loaf tins


  1. Sieve flours together in a large bowl, add in yeast and mix, drizzle in olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  2. Add in nice and warm water to make a soft dough
  3. Knead for a few minutes adding herbs as you go
  4. Carry on kneading until dough is soft and silky
  5. Lightly oil the loaf tins. I also fold a bit of parchment paper so I can easily remove the loaf when cooked
  6. Divide the dough and place in tins
  7. Lightly brush with olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and herbs on top too.
  8. Place somewhere warm and rise for an hour, dough should be above the top of the tin
  9. Place straight into a pre-heated oven at 180C once risen and cook for 40 minutes (place foil over the top if it begins to get too dark)
  10. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before removing from tin
  11. Cool until only slightly warm before cutting
  12. Lovely!!!!

Makes two loaves!

6 thoughts on “Herby bread

  1. Just going to make some of this lovely bread. I am mixing my white flour with Rye flour. It looks very wholesome, especially on a cold and frosty winters’ day,xx

    • I hope it came out well! I raised my last batch of bread in front of a little fan heater I put on in my kitchen because its so cold… 🙂 Nothing beats warm fresh bread and a vegetable goulash on a cold winters day 🙂

      C xxxx

  2. this is really nice and goes really well with vegetable soup. If sticking to wartime waste not principles leftover vegetables, stems/storks and leaves that are usually discarded make lovely & very healthy soup.

  3. Here is a copy of “The Grant Loaf” by Doris Grant from the 1940’s:
    450g strong wholemeal flour (alternatively you can use Spelt)
    1 tsp brown sugar such as Muscovado (1 tablespoon of honey may be used instead)
    2 teaspoons of salt
    400-450ml of hand-hot water

    Begin by warming the flour in your oven for about 10 minutes on the lowest heat.

    Place the warmed flour into a bowl and add the salt, sugar and yeast. Mix these together, make a small well in the centre and gradually add the water, using your hands or a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients into a dough. (At this point the dough may seem quite wet, which is normal for a Doris Grant loaf.)

    Move the dough to a floured pastry board and stretch it out into an oblong. Take one side, fold it into the centre and do the same for the other side, turn it over and repeat. Place the dough into a well greased tin, cover with a sprinkling of flour and leave to rise for 30–40 minutes in a warm place, or for about an hour at room temperature.

    Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and bake the bread for 30–40 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped if it is fully cooked. Return the bread to the oven (out of the tin) for a further 5–10 minutes to crisp up the base and sides. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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