Although I have never found this recipe in a wartime cook book the tradition of cooking bread in clay pots dates back at least 150 years.
I came across this really lovely photo I took (I wish I still had a camera) when I first made “Welsh Claypot Loaves” about 10 years ago. At that time I lived on a farm in Wales that dated back to the 1600’s so it seems likely that the tradition of cooking loaves in clay pots would have continued into the war years for some families
I used ordinary clay pots but I made sure to oil the inside of the pots and bake them a couple of times first before using them the first time to cook bread in.
Welsh Clay Pot Loaves
- 2 x 5 1/2″ clay pots
- 1 cup or 4oz / 115g wholemeal bread flour
- 3 cups or 12oz / 350g white bread flour
- 1-1/2 tsp / 7.5mls salt
- 1 sachet or 3 teaspoons of dried yeast (quick rise)
- 1/4pt / 150mls lukewarm milk
- 4floz / 120mls lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup or 2oz / 50g of softened butter or margarine
- 1tbsp / 15mls chopped fresh chives
- 1tbps / 15mls chopped fresh parsley
- 1tsp / 5mls chopped fresh sage
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 1 beaten egg
- Rolled oats to top
If using dried herbs use only 1/2 the stated amounts
- 5 1/2 inch standard clay pots
- Parchement paper
- Saran wrap-clingfilm
- Measure and prepare ingredients. Make dry wells in the flour and add herbs, soft butter, salt, crushed garlic and sachet of dried yeast.
- Add all lukewarm milk and water to bowl and mix together and knead until smooth. Place in bowl and cover bowl with cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm for an hour.
- Line the clay pots with parchment paper to stop the bread sticking. Although hand thrown high clay content pots are preferable for that rustic look, I use your standard 5 1/2″ terracotta pots from the local garden centre. None have exploded yet , but be careful, they get very hot!
- When dough has risen, remove dough and knock back by roughly kneeding for a few seconds
- Split the dough into two and place one ball in each of the lined pots. Cover the tops with oiled cling film and place in a warm position to rise again.
- After about 30 mins the dough should be risen to at least the height of the rim. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the rolled oats.
- Place in the oven at 200 centigrade or 390 F for 35-40 mins and remove when golden brown
The loaves look and smell lovely and ready to slice after about 1/2 hr of standing. The herby flavour is completely fabulous!