AFTER the fantastic response to the Yorkshire Crackney recipe I published a few weeks ago, which I’m pretty sure jogged a few memories with your families, I received a message from a reader regarding another lost bake from our region.

This one is called Bismarck, and I do recall making them in the mid-70s with some of the older bakers who served in the Second World War.

Sadly today this bake has vanished, but I’m sure some of you will remember buying a spicy, fruited Bismarck loaf for a weekend treat, filled with marzipan which was folded over into the shape of a Cornish pasty then iced with a scattering of toasted flaked almonds and a cherry placed on top.

From what I do know, the Bismarck loaf was a very popular bread to buy after the Second World War when the sinking of the Bismarck battleship was still fresh in everyone’s minds being the pride of the German fleet.

The Bismarck broke into the Atlantic Ocean and raided allied shipping from North America to Great Britain.

British naval units were deployed to block its route. HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales engaged the Bismarck and in the ensuing battle Hood was sadly destroyed.

The Bismarck herself had sufficient damage and was forced to end her raiding missions and head back to occupied France to effect repairs.

This spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy to hunt down the Bismarck, and two days later Bismarck was attacked by torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal.

This crippled the Bismarck and her final engagement was with two British battleships. The crew scuttled the ship, which sank with heavy loss of life.

For the English people and Prime Minister Churchill, the sinking of Bismarck was an important triumph and had a great and important effect on our nation’s morale.

After the war, I’m sure the British Federation of Bakers were quick to act making Bismarck loafs with the word Bismarck pronounced this side of the Pennines ‘’Bismark’’ meaning bold, brave, courageous and good news.

Other areas of the UK made long torpedo-shaped Bismarck sweet buns filled with raspberry jelly or custard, but I do feel the Bismarck tea loaf originated for Yorkshire and this lost bake needs a return to the core.

Reading about the history of this famous battle was fascinating, especially connecting bread with war, but saying that the Roman army did march on bread!

Recipe for a Yorkshire Bismack tea loaf

Double the recipe up and make one for your parents or grandparents.

250g/9 oz strong bread flour

5g/1/4 oz salt

40g/1 1/2 oz caster sugar

1 heaped teaspoons mixed spices

30g/1 oz butter

150g/5 oz mixed dried fruits

1 small egg

1 medium orange, zest and juices

120ml/4 fl oz tepid milk, approx

20g/1 oz fresh yeast

150g/5 oz marzipan


150g/5 oz icing sugar

2-3 tablespoons cold water

50g/2 oz toasted flaked almonds, toast them while the loaf is baking

1 large cherry to decorate


1. Grease well a large baking tray with butter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar, mixed spices, and rub in the butter to rough breadcrumbs.

3. Add the dried fruits and orange zest stirring in well.

4. Dissolve the yeast into the milk and add to the bowl along with the egg and orange juice to form a soft and pliable dough.

5. Knead the dough well for eight minutes with a little flour till smooth and springy, return back to the mixing bowl covering with a tea towel allowing time to double in size.

6. Once risen well, roll out the dough round to the size of a large dinner plate.

7. Roll the marzipan into a large ball and roll out to a small circle size.

8. Fold the marzipan in half and place over half of the dough leaving a slight border to egg wash.

9. Fold over the dough to form a Cornish pasty shape, sealing the edges well with your fingertips to seal in the marzipan.

10. Place the dough onto the baking tray, egg wash and allow time to rise for 15 minutes before baking.

12. Bake in a preheated hot oven 200c/Gas Mark 7 for around 25-30 minutes till deep golden brown colour.

13. Once baked transfer onto a cooling wire to cool fully.

14. Meanwhile make the water icing in a small bowl by adding a little water at a time till you have a thick spreadable paste.

15. Spread the icing over the top of the Bismack, sprinkling over the toasted flaked almonds adding a large cherry for decoration.