Bread recipes and tips from Macalla Farm

General notes on bread making

  • Stoneground organic wholemeal flour is best, as it has all the goodness of the grain in it, but it doesn’t keep very well. The best it to buy whole grain, and grind it yourself. If you don’t have a grinder, buy small amounts of flour regularly, and check the best before date. White flour keeps better.
  • Make the dough as wet as possible. Learn to knead with water rather than with flour.
  • Let the dough rise as slowly as possible. This ensures that the bread will keep longer, will be more digestible, and will taste better.
  • If possible, use spring water. In some areas, mains water contains so much chlorine that it will inhibit yeast action, and your bread won’t rise properly.
  • Yeast works best around 28 degrees, so aim for that temperature when mixing the ingredients for your dough. At lower temperatures, the bread will rise more slowly, which may be what you want.
  • Baking times are approximate, as they depend on your oven. You will have to experiment and find out what works for you. Bread is baked when the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with your knuckles.

Clare Island sourdough bread

One of the easiest sourdough breads

  • 150 g wholemeal rye flour
  • 150g wholemeal wheat flour
  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • 150g dough from the previous batch. This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks
  • 5 g of salt
  • 1/2 litre lukewarm water
  • a teaspoon of oil (for oiling the tin)

Mix the flour together with the salt in a large bowl. Add water to your starter (sourdough kept over from the previous batch)  and blend to the consistency of milk. Mix this with the flour and the rest of the water, and knead  to a soft elastic dough for ten minutes (yep, ten minutes—put a timer on!)
Put aside 150 g of dough (for the next batch) in a glass jar. The jar should be left open until the dough in it has fully risen, then closed and kept in the fridge. We keep the starter jar next to the rising loaves in their tins, so the starter and loaves rise together.
Oil a bread tin, dusting the bottom with flour, and put in enough dough to half fill the tin.  Leave to rise in a warm place until it fills the tin completely (about 8 hours at 20 degrees, but depends on temperature). Bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated hot oven (230 C), then turn down to 200 C for 20 minutes.  Remove the loaves from the tins and tap the bottom to see if fully baked. It may be necessary to put bread back in the oven, top down, for another few minutes. Leave to cool fully on a bread rack. It is best to leave the bread for at least four hours before slicing.
You will need to bribe someone who is already making sourdough bread to get the original starter dough. Once you have it, it’s plain sailing.

We now use a very similar recipe to make a delicious spelt sourdough. Simply substitute the rye, wheat and white bread flour for 450 g of wholemeal spelt flour. Or you can use half spelt and half rye.

Click here to see Ciara’s bread making instruction video.


Banana bread

Really easy to bake and with no sugar, eggs or fat, it makes a healthy treat suitable for nearly all diets.

  • 200 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 small teaspoon of salt
  • 1 small teaspoon of baking soda
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • a handfull of dried fruit and nuts
  • 1 small teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 small teaspoon ground cinamom
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of organic oil (for oiling the tin)

Mash the bananas and mixed with the spice and the molasses if used. Add the flour, salt and baking soda andmix lightly, then incorporate the dired fruit and nuts (you can use anything you like, raisins, chopped dates, appricots, chopped walnuts and pistachio are my favourites).

Oil a bread tin. Put the dought in and smooth it out. Bake for 30 minutes in a hot oven (200 C). The bread is baked when a knife stuck into in comes out dry. Leave to cool fully before slicing.