This herbed bread is associated with Dewi Sant (St. David) because of the strict asceticism he practiced.
The monastic rule of Dewi Sant taught humility, simplicity and asceticism and he practiced these himself: that monks ploughed, planted and tended their crops themselves, without draft animals; that they drank only water and ate only bread with salt and herbs and never meat or beer; that they spent their evenings in prayer, reading and writing; that no member of the monastery had any personal possessions, everything belonged to them all. Dewi Sant’s last sermon was recorded as including the words, “Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about…. Do the little things in life,” and this phrase, “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd,” (“Do the little things in life”) is a phrase used today.
Recipes for clay pot bread vary greatly. I used this recipe, and have translated it here to make it a little clearer for American cooks…
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 Unbleached white flour
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2/3 cup lukewarm milk
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pkg fast-rising yeast
- 1 egg, beaten for glazing
- fennel seeds, for sprinkling
- First prepare your pot. Select one clean, 6″ clay flower pot.
- Clean thoroughly, oil inside and outside.
- Oil and bake three or four times in a hot oven for about 30-40 mins. You can do this while you are baking other foods. This seals the pot, so that the bread won’t stick.
- Mix both flours in a large mixing bowl with the salt.
- Add all the herbs and garlic and mix together thoroughly.
- In a warm jar, mix together the milk, water, honey, olive oil and the yeast
- Leave for a few mins to let the yeast activate.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour.
- Pour the liquids into the well of the flour and start mixing the flours into the liquid from the outside of the bowl in to the middle.
- With clean, warm hands carry on the mixing process until all the ingredients come together to form a dough.
- Knead for 5-7 mins on a lightly floured surface.
- Place in a bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave for 30-40 mins in a warm place.
- The dough should be larger than when you first started, punch it down and knead again for 5 mins.
- Prepare the pot and ensure that it is well greased.
- Drop the dough into it. You can score the top of the dough with a sharp knife if you want.
- Place in a warm place and allow to rise for 30-40 mins.
- Heat oven to 425F.
- Gently glaze the top of the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with the fennel seeds.
- Carefully, place the pot on a rack at the bottom of the oven, trying not to jar the pot.
- Bake for 35-40 mins until golden brown.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and cool for 5-10 mins. Be careful, the pot will be very hot.
- Turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
The bread turned out amazingly tasty. I thought the small amount of herbs wouldn’t do much, and was expecting very bland bread. Not at all! The herbs flavored the whole loaf and it was wonderful without any toppings or condiments. I’m wondering how it would turn out in a regular bread pan, since my only complaint is that the shape of the flower pot makes cutting it a bit of a challenge.