Friday, 21 October 2011

a lot of fat bottoms squished together in a tin...

... or a cluster loaf to you and I...

... I wasn't too happy with my recent Pumpkin Cluster Bread, even though it looked so good it suffered from the curse of the pumpkin... blandness... I was under the misguided impression that the added parmesan would give it the saltiness it needed but I was mistaken.  The pumpkin is such a dull vegetable it really needs extra salt and sugar to enliven it and even though Victoria from 21st Century Urban Housewife made it recently and said it turned out perfectly fine, I was not happy with mine...

... I really love the whole cluster bread idea though so I thought i'd try again but this time with a normal loaf without the added vegetable... I had a little of the delicious wholegrain flour left over from my last loaf which i've added to some regular strong white bread flour... and it was a great success... it's one of the most satisfying breads to make... so soft and doughy and the end result really does look like a lot of fat bottoms squished into a tin...

Cluster Loaf

500g strong white bread flour
250g wholegrain flour
1 sachet (7g) of instant yeast
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
half a pint of milk

- combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, drop in the honey and oil

- warm half the milk in the microwave and whisk the yeast into it, set aside for 10 minutes

- add the yeasty milk to the flour and start to combine (I use a rubber spatular and then my hands) and add more milk until it forms a dough - you may not need all the milk.

- tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until nice and soft, then place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size. (mine goes into the airing cupboard)

- once the dough has risen, tip it out onto your work surface and whack it around a bit, then gently roll it out into a fat sausage, with a sharp knife, cut it in half, then in half again and again until you have 8 even sections, roll these into balls

- grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed, springform cake tin and place the balls into the tin, starting with one in the centre and the rest around the outside.

- cover with clingfilm again (oiled this time) and let it rise once more for at least 45 minutes

- bake in a hot oven (190c) for 20 minutes or until it is golden... you may want to remove it from the tin after 20 minutes and place it back into the oven for a crusty crust

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. Have you tried halloumi with pumpkin? It's quite salty and worked well for me in some rolls. Great basic recipe though. Thanks for sharing x

  2. oh yum Dom! I am convinced that cluster bread is the way to go...we aren't really sandwich eaters in our house...but love to pull off a hunk of bread and slater on the butter. The malty flour I used for the pumpkin bread added something extra...but I agree it did need salt (which I forgot)...but piled high with butter and cheese and chutney it didn't matter! :) going to try a plain version this weekend too xx

  3. Well you may have been disappointed, but we think it looks lovely! I'm wondering how it would work out with perhaps some chilli or cumin to spice it up . . . just a thought!

  4. "pumpkin is such a dull vegetable"

    What variety of Pumpkin are we talking here Dom? If it's a round orange Hallowe'en jobby, then it's as dull as ditchwater.

    What you need to get your mitts onto is a squash with a good flavour and texture, like a Queensland Blue. Cut it in half, place cut sides down on a baking tray and bake in the oven until the flesh is soft. Peel away the skin (resist scooping up the flesh and scoffing the lot!) and use the mashed cooked flesh for your loaf. Any excess can be frozen for use through the winter - soup, mash, muffins etc.

    You won't need a lot of extra flavourings, but a little spice, chili or herbs (sage or thyme work best) add an extra oomph! For soup just cook with celery and apple and whizz.

    BTW we had pumpkin macarons in California ;-)


  5. It does loook like lot's of little bums squashed in a tin, I like it! Bet it tastes gorgeous warm with butter and honey drizzled on it.yum.x

  6. I've seen a number of breads of this type lately. I like to make one but would probably prefer to use some ready-made dough from the market. (Lazy me.)

  7. I can never resist a good bread!!

  8. Dangerous .... I'd eat the whole lot, I wouldn't even need to search for a knife!!!!!!!

  9. Mmmmmmmmm - I'm loving the whole idea of cluster bread at the moment, something quite comforting and friendly about it. And now my oven is fixed I can make myself a 'loaf'

  10. My name is Karen and I am a new cluster bread addict, especially if all the fat bottoms are squashed into a tin....I am SO there Dom! That bread looks amazing and I bet it would taste good with a slab of cheese....

  11. We need to start a cluster bread fan club. I'm the first member! Except I can't look at yours without thinking about the fat bums. I want to try this and the pumpkin version, they both look so pillowy and delicious.

  12. After Victoria's post I'm going to try Butternut and (I hope I bought the right one) flour from Waitrose, love the idea of a load of bread rolls all fighting for space.

  13. Okay ... as I read this post I started singing," Fat-Bottomed Girls, you make the rockin world go round!" Channeling the Queen here! But seriously, I'm loving this cluster bread idea! I went back to the pumpkin post and I agree with magic cochin - spice is needed for the pumpkin version ... this version, however just needs butter and jam! And a pot of tea or a big bowl of soup for dunking!
    Yum, Dom!

  14. Great title and looks delicious too! Can I please have some for breakfast? :)

  15. Hmm, fat bottom bread . . . there's a joke in there somewhere! However, your bread looks yummy! I love this type of bread, and I'll bet you could easily turn it into "monkey bread."

    Happy Cooking!

  16. Fresh baked bread is so satisfying its hard to eat just one piece. Your house must always smell so good. I'm with Mary I think I might turn this one into Monkey Bread. A little dunk in some butter and cinnamon sugar before the dough balls are baked and you have every little kids favorite.

  17. Looks gorgeous - I love the idea of baking lots of buns to meld into one harmonious whole!

    Texture looks fab too - really soft and light. Yum!

  18. hahaha awesome title. this is the kind of bread my mum loves, really really soft and squishy. she hates the crusty artisanal bread that people here prefer, so i'm keeping this recipe in mind for when I get back to singapore!


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