Tear and Share bread: Technical challenge 3 on The Great Irish Bake Off


Someone asked me the other day:

“Are you well? ‘Cos you’re baking well!”

Well getting star baker last night was certainly the icing on the cake! Right I’ll stop with these ridiculous attempts at being funny and stick to the baking.


So last night you saw us tackle breads. 3 signature loaves; one a wholemeal soda, one a tea loaf and one other non-yeasted Irish bread was our first challenge…in 2 and a half hours. Sometimes I thought the Bake Off team were just trying to make things difficult for us. Oh and to make things even more difficult for myself I decided to try and tackle a yeasted tea loaf within this time. People have asked why I decided to do that. Well, the signature challenge is meant to be something that’s tried and tested, something that you do often, and something that reflects your personality. I very often bake yeasted breads and I would like to show this.


Now bearing in my time constraint I know it was very ambitious to attempt an enriched yeasted loaf. This was one of the times it didn’t pay off. But I know why and I made it clear to the judges that I knew I was taking a risk and that it may not work. I think that this is why it didn’t put me out of the running for star baker because they saw me pushing my boundaries and risking it to impress them.


But enough about the first challenge, the technical was in fact a yeasted bread. A lovely enriched dough made into a tear and share bread. I love tear and share bread. The crumb on this is super soft and slightly sweet. I was happy with placing third on this challenge as the judges were being really very picky towards the top end of the spectrum. I remember when they were judging it one of the criticisms was that some of the seeds were down the side of the loaf. I mean come on that’s just being very picky!

Here’s how you can recreate this brilliant bread at home.

You will need:

500g Strong white flour
60g butter
10g salt
15g sugar
10g milk powder
20g yeast or 10g instant yeast
60g Eggs, beaten
210ml warm water
50g each of
Sunflower seeds
Poppy seeds
Sesame seeds
Strong white flour
Caraway seeds

How to do it:

  1. Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until a breadcrumb like consistency. Mix in the salt, sugar and milk powder. If you are using instant yeast stir this in now too.
  2. If using fresh yeast crumble it into the warm water and beaten egg and stir. Leave for about 10 minutes by which time it should be frothy but if it isn’t don’t worry it should still do it’s work!
  3. Add the wet to the dry and mix with your hands until you have a sticky, shaggy dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto the worktop and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth, stretchy and it springs back slowly when lightly pressed. Cover and leave to prove for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. ‘Knock back’ the dough by flattening it a few times on the worktop. Now divide it into 19 equal pieces roughly weighing 46g each. To do this roll the dough into a large sausage and then cut off a small portion, weigh it and either add or remove dough from it until it hits the correct weight.
    CIMG4540 CIMG4543
    This is your benchmark piece-a visual guide for cutting off the other 18 portions. You won’t get it perfect every time but this way each portion will be made up of one large and maybe one or two more smaller pieces of dough rather than several smaller ones. Not only does this make shaping easier but also improves the texture.
  5. To form each portion into a ball pretend like you’re holding an apple. Now keeping this shape with your hand from a ‘cage’ over one portion at a time. Applying a little pressure roll your hand around the table. The dough inside will move around and the shape of your hand will keep it within your control.
  6. To moisten each ball dip it’s top into the remaining beaten egg, or some water, then into one of the toppings.
    CIMG4550 CIMG4552
    Now I don’t care what the judges said about how our toppings were chosen-it’s your bread do what combos you like! Once all topped place into the cake tin (or free form it if you don’t have one) and leave to prove for about an hour or until doubled in size.
    CIMG4555 CIMG4560
    See how the balls have proofed into each other? This is what you are aiming for. The balls will combine together when baking making the loaf hold together but also it will easily tear off.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/180°C fan for 25 minutes. It will be ready when you hear a hollow sound when you tap it. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minute before tearing and sharing!


Eat this one whilst it still has a bit of warmth left from the oven-there’s nothing better! I clearly remember eating this on the Bake Off because it was such a nice change to be making something savoury rather than sweet.

I’ve made tear and shares for parties and dinner parties before and they’re always a popular choice. You don’t have to do the tear and share option of course as it can be rather time consuming weighing and shaping each ball. Instead you could easily make this into a large loaf, sandwich rolls or a plaited loaf if you still want to impress.

Feeling inspired? Well give this one a go over the weekend. All the recipes from the show are available here or if you want to try out my loaves in particular click here. I would recommend Oonagh’s Banana bread to try-to date it is the best Banana bread I’ve ever tasted. Shame we didn’t get to see it on the show.

One last thing before I go I promise! Just wanted to say a massive thanks to everyone who’s been following the show and the blog, as well as everyone’s kind messages for star baker last night. I couldn’t not mention Tom. Tom-you were a fantastic contestant who kept us all entertained during those long filming days and your presence on the show will be missed indeed.

Steve x


11 thoughts on “Tear and Share bread: Technical challenge 3 on The Great Irish Bake Off

  1. Pingback: Breaking Bread: Going a Bit Crazy with Flour, Yeast and Imagination | shreyagoswami7

  2. Hi Steven, im just wondering..if i dont use milk powder what can i use instead? And if i dont use the fresh yeast do i still use the water? Sorry just a bit confused 🙂

    • Hey Emma, you can substitute both the 10g milk powder and the 210g water with 220g fresh milk. You can use instant/fast action yeast instead of the fresh yeast. Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Me again. Made this bread last week and I have to say its one of the nicest types I’ve tried. Tbh I didn’t find it too difficult either 🙂 thanks for sharing the recipe. X 🙂

  4. Pingback: Petit Fours: Final Technical Challenge on the Great Irish Bake Off | A Bakers Diet

  5. Hi Steven, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I’ve been looking for just the right bread for our American Thanksgiving holiday meal and this is it! It’s beautiful. I do have one question though, what size tin would you recommend using to bake it?

    • No problem this one is perfect for a meal like thanksgiving! I have used 23cm/11 inch pans before but you can use whatever size is available to you. Even a square tin will do the trick. Hope it goes down well with your guests!

  6. A square tin, I didn’t even think of that. I will have to experiment before the big day. I think that my guests will love the look and taste of this bread. I can’t wait to make it!

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