For the first year since planting I have a little glut of apples. It’s taken about 10 years to get this far and I suspect in the years to come I’ll suddenly be up to my neck in them. For now though I don’t want to waste them. Driving around at the moment I notice apples all over the place, in barrows or buckets free to anyone wanting them.

My own apples makes me think of using seasonal ingredients like my mint along with some favourites like real ale and halloumi (squeaky cheese). Although difficult to part with the latter ingredients for a loaf, Vanessa has just about convinced me that it will all be worth it in the end…

What's New

New from Heritage Harvest this week is Viking Barley Flour made from a blend of heritage strains of barley from Orkney, Scandinavia and UK. Used by the Vikings and Roman gladiators, barley flour has been popular in bread for millennia. £4.60

The inspiration for this recipe was enjoying some rather delicious fried halloumi cheese with olive oil and fresh mint earlier this summer. It has taken me a while to get around to writing it though. Halloumi from Cyprus has a firm salty texture ideal for frying but has the distinct advantage of not breaking up.

Salty fried halloumi, fresh mint and tart cooking apples work well with a plain flour but to complement the ale I used some Gilchester’s brown. I love blending my flours and my recipe is an Anglo-Italian-Cypriot mix, but feel free to use all 00 if you prefer.

Do make sure that give the halloumi some nice golden colour when frying it as this adds to the overall flavour of the baked loaf and bake it in a cloche as the bread develops a great crust and enhances the nutty flavours - and it springs well when baked. I get lots of emails from delighted BakeryBits customers telling me about how great their loaves are so much improved when they bake with the cloche.

The Lev Blé which is a dried wheat leaven combines the rising power of yeast along with the wonderful aroma of sourdough increasing the flavour of this already tasty loaf. The advantage in using these sachets is that it has the flavour, shape and texture of sourdough along with the speed of yeast – but note that it is not the same as a true sourdough which uses long fermentation and the wild bacteria and yeasts to break down and pre-digest the flour. So by all means enjoy the flavour and texture but for some people who can only digest sourdough, I would caution that this bread may not be as easily digestible. But you know what; when I just want some really delicious bread in a hurry, this is as close as dammit to sourdough in flavour.

This loaf has some ale as part of the liquid which also contributes to the overall flavour. You could, if you wanted to avoid using ale replace its volume in water. Similarly, you could replace the apple with firm diced pears to mix it up a little.

I rarely have left over bread, but I suspect it would make a superb base for a stuffing to go with roast pork with some apple sauce or lamb with some mint jelly and any good real ale that you might have left over.

I’ve left the garnish up to you. I tend to dig about in the fridge to use up leftovers when I make pizzas...think olives, mozzarella, salami, rocket, peppers, mushrooms and blue cheese, ham, basil, rosemary, chillies...Think flavour!

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


Recipe: Apple, Halloumi
& Mint Bread

You can use either use a stand mixer or mix by hand.

Slice then fry the halloumi in a little oil to brown, allow to cool and dice into 1cm cubes.

Place the flours into the bowl. In a separate bowl add the ale, water and Lev Blé then whisk together to dissolve the yeast using your dough whisk. Add this liquid to the flour and then add the salt and sugar and mix. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 8 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then add the mint, cheese and apple to just incorporate them but take care not break them up.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let prove until doubled, 1.5 - 2 hours.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces and form into round boules and place in the floured bannetons with the seam uppermost.

Set the oven to 220°C/425F/Gas Mark 7 and place a La Cloche in the centre of the oven to heat through.

Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic film and allow to prove until just under doubling in size (around 1 - 1.5 hours in my kitchen which is about 20C - it will take longer in a cooler kitchen).

Put one banneton in the fridge for the second bake.

Remove the cloche from the oven and take off the lid, turn the 1st boule onto the base of the hot cloche. Score the dough with the dough scoring knife to allow for and control the expansion of the bread during baking. Replace the lid and place the cloche back in the oven and bake for around 45 - 50 minutes. You can remove the cover after 40 minutes and finish baking uncovered for extra browning.

To see if properly baked, lift the loaf and tap the bottom - a hollow sound is an indicator of a well-baked loaf. Repeat the baking for the second loaf.

Makes: 2 large (approx. 1kg) loaves

600g Mulino Marino
00 Soffiata Flour

250g Gilchesters Light
Brown Farmhouse Flour

220g Ale of your choice
at room temperature
370g Water (at 24C)
21g Lev Blé
8g Super-fine
Himalayan Salt

50g Caster sugar
5g Chopped fresh
mint leaves
250g Halloumi cheese
350g Peeled and diced
cooking apples (2cm cubes)

KD8000 Bakery Scales
La Cloche
2 x 1kg Round cane Banneton
Dough Scoring Knife
Mixing bowls
Dough Whisk


featured products


Mulino Marino 00 Soffiata Flour | £2.75

Type "00" flour from strong organic wheat suitable for ciabatta, baguettes, brioches, croissants and as a general bread flour.

Gilchesters Light Brown Farmhouse Flour | £2.70

Gilchester Organic light-brown farmhouse flour is a great all-rounder, making fantastic breads and is also suitable for healthy baking such as muffins, fruit cake and scones.

Lev Blé | £2.50

Lev Ble is a dried wheat leaven combining the rising power of yeast and the flavour of sourdough starter. The sachet is sufficient to lift 2kg of flour to make reliable and really tasty bread.

La Cloche Baking Dome | £47.99

Make fantastic bread in your oven every time with a La Cloche. Ensure perfect golden, crackly crust and moist, evenly baked bread with this amazing product, based on 1000s of years of bread baking traditions.

Dough Scoring Knife | £2.00

Dough scoring knife with a snap-off cover, very popular amongst French bakers for slashing or scoring bread dough just prior to baking.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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