Dyett Bread is an excellent bread to accompany soups and vegetable broths. We tend to think of today’s speciality artisan or rustic breads, made with herbs and spices, as a modern invention, not so, herbs and spices used to flavour breads stretch back to well before this millennium. And this sage and fennel Diet Bread from the Tudor period is an excellent example of this.
Note On Baking: You might want to bake this bread in a bread tin, to make convenient bread to toast etc. (we sometimes do) so you should understand the following first: Bread baked in pans or tins of uniform shape and capacity was a relatively late development in culinary history, (although it does seem to have been a British invention) certainly they were in use by the 1700’s, if not before. However, as they were not in general use, an authentic Tudor bread would have been round and domed shaped with a flat bottom, (from having been allowed to rise before baking) and be baked on a bakestone or the flat floor of a bread oven without it being in a tin.
Note On The Flour: The best flour to use in this authentic Dyett Bread recipe is a traditional stoneground flour, rather than a modern roller milled flour, (stoneground bread flour is now quite common to purchase). In Britain you can still purchase flour produced by traditional local millers who still operate surviving wind and water mills which are hundreds of years old and produce an ’80%’ extraction stoneground white flour.
Common Mistakes When Making Bread:
- Using ‘fast acting’ yeast intended for bread machines.
- Leaving the yeast activating in warm water too long so it is exhausted before use.
- Adding in too much extra flour when kneading.
- Not kneading enough, kneading too much. 7 minutes of fully committed kneading is perfect.
- Not giving enough time for the dough to rise to double its original size.
- Not allowing the dough to rise for a second time after knocking it back.
- Baking the bread at too low a temperature, not pre-heating the oven.
Dyett Bread Recipe From The Gentlewoman’s Kitchen
The recypte of the Dyett bread: Take halfe a pecke of fyne Wheaten Flower, three handfulls of sage shredd small, An ounce and a halfe of ordinary Fennell seede lightly bruised, strawe the sage and the Fennell seede amongst the Flower, and so with barme kneade and bake ytt as you do other breade, and eate ytt nott until ytt be a day old
Dyett Bread Recipe
- 520g plain white bread flour – unbleached stoneground (plus extra for dusting etc.)
- 130g wholemeal bread flour – stoneground if possible
- 12 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tbsp of dried sage)
- 25g of fennel seeds (bruised)
- 1 tsp salt (ground sea salt)
- 500ml warm water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold)
- either – 15g of dried yeast & 1 tsp sugar (make up according to instructions)
- or – 30g of fresh yeast & 1 tsp of sugar (make up according to instructions)
Yeast Raising agent:
Dried Yeast: If using dried yeast as a raising agent – in a small bowl or jug pour in half the warm water, (250ml) dissolve in the sugar, and sprinkle in the yeast, whisk it thoroughly. Leave to sit for 10 minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4–5 minutes, it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top. Do not allow the yeast to sit longer than 12 minutes before using, leaving it too long will exhaust the yeast before it is in the dough. When ready, stir and pour in all the remaining warm water 250ml.
Fresh Yeast: You need twice as much fresh yeast as dried yeast and you must use it in half the time after activating it. Make it up exactly as described above.
Make The Dyett Bread
In a large bowl mix in the sieved flour, ground sea salt, sage, and the fennel seeds (crushed lightly). Mix the salt into the flour, so it does not interfere with the yeast when added, make a well in the flour. Add the yeast water into the well and bring all the ingredients together into a dough with a knife, wooden spoon, or your fingertips
Add some more strong plain bread flour (if needed) until you form a firm dough which you can knead, it should still be on the ’sticky’ side, but not so that it is difficult to remove from the bowl. You are looking for it to be springy and elastic. Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a flat floured work surface.
Start kneading the dough to make your Tudor Dyett Bread for 7 minutes (kneading dough is a ‘push-pull’ technique to break the gluten and starches down in the flour). If sticking to the work surface sprinkle over a little extra flour, it will probably need a few casts of extra flour over the 7 minutes, but do not over do it.
When ready it will become satiny, and when pressed with a finger tip the indentation in the dough will rise back out. Form the dough into a large ball, place it back in the bowl, cover with a light cloth in a warm room until it has almost doubled in size – this could take up to 2 hours (depending on the temperature of the room).
After the dough has almost doubled in size, knock it back, punch it once to remove the air out of it. Remove the dough, knead once more on a work-surface for one minute. Shape the dough into a ball, place on a greased, (with a little butter), non-stick baking tray, or into a loaf tin (see below). This can be one large ball, or several smaller ones to make individual rolls. Leave to rise once more for a further half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 230°C
After half an hour use a sharp knife to make a shallow cut all around the side at the bottom of the dough and cut a cross into the top. Place the oven tray into the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C and cook for a further 40min, or until your bread looks nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the Tudor Dyett Bread and leave to cool.