Myrtle Allen's Brown Bread

James Beard

Author and Educator

"I first ate Myrtle Allen's brown bread in her delightful inn, Ballymaloe House, in Ireland. It is an uncommonly well-textured whole-wheat bread with a lovely flavor, and I have made it repeatedly since visiting there. It should be eaten fresh, with plenty of good sweet butter. You will note that this is an unusual recipe, since the dough is not kneaded and has only one rising." –James Beard


  • 3 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour, preferably stone ground
  • 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (100ºF to 115ºF, approximately), divided
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon salt


Put the whole-wheat flour in a large mixing bowl and place in a warm oven (a gas oven with the pilot light on or an electric oven set as low as possible). Both the flour and the bowl should be warm when you make the bread.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and blend in the molasses. Let proof. Add another 1/2 cup water. Combine the flour, yeast mixture, and salt. Add enough warm water to make a wet, sticky dough (about 1 cup or more according to the flour). Put directly into a buttered 9 x 5 x 3-inch bread tin. Cover, set in a warm spot, allow to rise by one-third its original size. Preheat the oven and bake at 450ºF for 50 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the pan and leave on the rack in the turned-off oven for 20 minutes more to give a crustier finish.


1 loaf