Our recent trip to London was all too brief. In ten days, we only just scratched the surface of the city. We didn’t get to anywhere near every restaurant, neighborhood, shop and cultural site we had bookmarked in advance. But we did return with some great memories, renewed friendships and, it seems, a terrible craving for Twiglets. Before we get to what their current corporate owners call “a unique wholewheat product,” we’d like to assure our readers that we did do more than lounge about our flat scarfing salty, umami-laden Twiglets and watching marathons of “Come Dine With Me.” (We will, however, admit to some scarfing and cheesy reality show watching in between more serious endeavors.)
While we were too cheap to pay the entrance fee to Westminster Abbey, we did walk around the outside. And we saw markers for people buried in the floor of the (free entry!) Southwark Cathedral so we got the gist of it. As usual we searched out war memorials.
Big Ben was completely covered in scaffolding, but we did see the commingling of pro- and anti-Brexit protesters outside Parliament on the day Theresa May’s exit plan was first resoundingly voted down.Enlightenment Gallery and its hall of oddities where we could easily have spent days. We were crushed by crowds at the Natural History Museum, enjoyed the Tate (despite the mostly underwhelming Turners) and visited various other smaller, more quirky venues like the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. a lovely, boozy lunch at the legendary French House. And Steve made a trip to the East End to see a from-Louisville-but-now-Londoner friend, Kevin. During that visit, Steve was introduced to Twiglets. Kevin suggested that some people do not like the yeast extract-coated treats. But Steve did, and after bringing a bag back to our rental flat, so did Michelle.
We returned to our American home with a bag of Twiglets, which are only available in the U.S. at usurious mail-order prices. When the bag was (quickly) gone, Steve decided to try and make some himself. While Twiglets are not readily available, Marmite is—and after some trial and error, Steve found a way to make if not exactly his own Twiglets, perhaps something better. He added a little Marmite to his lavash cracker dough, then brushed twisted thin dough strips with a mixture of butter and the iconic British yeast-based spread, before baking in a low oven. The result may be more grissini than Twiglets, but we certainly enjoyed them.
We hope someday to return to London, where we might do things besides eat Twiglets. Until we do, we’ll have plenty of pictures and memories, along with some quite phenomenal Marmite-laced snacks.
(adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
- 1-1/2 c. unbleached bread flour
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. instant yeast
- 1 TB honey
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1-1/2 tsp. Marmite
- 1/3 to 1/2 c. water, room temperature
Stir together the flour, salt, yeast, honey, oil and Marmite. Stir in the water, using only enough to bring everything into a somewhat dry yet kneadable ball. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface or in a stand mixture fitted with a dough hook for about 10 minutes, until it’s smooth and supple. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, making sure the dough ball is coated with oil on all sides.
Let the dough rise for about 90 minutes or until at least doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 325°.
After rising, use a rolling pin to form paper-thin sheets of dough on a floured surface. Cut into 1/4″ strips. Twist each strip tightly and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can place them very close together as they will not spread much.
- 2 TB butter
- 1 tsp. Marmite
- Black pepper
Melt butter. Whisk in Marmite. Brush the tops of the dough sticks with the mixture, then generously top with ground pepper.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning, until golden brown and crisp. Cool on baking sheet.
I like the sound and look of these.
Thanks, Nadia. They were pretty tasty.
I’m not too keen on twiglets. Nor am I enamored by Brexit. However, I love your photos and observational post.
I thought they were horrible at first. But I kept going back to them. Still, Steve’s version is much better!
This was a great post! I think I travel the same way you do. I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston this past summer but was too cheap to pay entrance fees to all the buildings, so I admired them all from the outside.
The photography on this post was awesome!
Thank you! And always glad to meet a fellow (cheap) traveler!
It looks like you had an amazing time – great photos! I don’t know what’s wrong with that Turner gallery in the Tate, but I’ve been underwhelmed by it, several times. I have to confess that I love Twiglets and loath Marmite. The most unpleasant experience I have ever had, was kissing a girlfriend who’d just eaten Marmite! Have you seen the Marmite advert with a mother eating the yeast based spread while breast feeding?
I do, however, applaud your recreation.
Oh, I’m so glad to know that I don’t have horrible taste (re the Twiglets). Haven’t yet seen the advert, but will. I honestly don’t know how people eat Marmite by itself. Or even on toast with a ton of butter. It’s pretty rank. Thanks to you for our lovely lunch. It is one of our best trip memories! And we’ll be back…
And, yeah, you warned me about the Tate. There were some beautiful paintings, particularly a couple of the Venice ones. But, overall, it was really underwhelming and I love Turner! I don’t really get it.
Your photos and tour stories are wonderful. Such savvy travelers and cooks. Love being able to join your travels from my arm chair.
Aaaaw thanks, C.
Wonderful travel tale about one of my very favourite places in the world? Have never had a twiglet, loathe Marmite and its Australian sibling Vegemite, am envious about you meeting Mad, but would have paid the entrance fee to Westminster Abbey: such a wondrous place where to ‘feel’ British history . . . . was in London at least annually for decades . . . most times went to say ‘hello’ . . .
Thanks, Eha! Steve had been to Westminster before. I’ll go on the next trip. Still, it was ungodly expensive which always annoys me when churches are involved. The craziness nearby (the Brexit-related protests) was more interesting in a totally sick sort of way. The world has gone mad and it seemed more relevant to be there. As for the Marmite/Vegemite, I’m with you. Pretty disgusting stuff. But, somehow, these (and, yeah, Twiglets in an industrial food sort of way) work!
And, P.S., yes, lunch with Mad was one of the best parts of our trip!
*smile* Please forgive the story re Westminster Abbey: The first time we took our two daughters to London they were a curious 6 and 8. Our Hall Porter convinced us a private driver/guide would be no more expensive than 4x tour bus tickets! The fabulous lady was to teach them (and us) for years. Westminster Abbey was closed for renovations. Our gorgeous guide (a not-yet-famous Brit author’s wife putting their 4 kids thru’ private schools) asked my husband was he willing to part with a bottle of good gin? A laughing ‘yes’ from him. Bottle in hand we reached a cellar door, knocked, handed over the bottle to a delighted guard, got a back door key and admonishment ‘just one hour, not much more!’ and had the whole of the Abbey all to ourselves . . . never mind us: the girls pretended to get married at the High Altar, read the Bible from high up in their most ‘serious’ voices and learned who was buried where in the side chapels and passages, hmm, doing a bit of a happy dance atop !!! Totally unforgettable! Oh, ‘naturally’ we did not just go to see Changing of the Guard at Buck Palace either : I mean you have to say hello to the guys when they first get themselves and their horses ready at the Barracks 🙂 ! Absolutely true story . . .
London is a wonderful destination especially if you actively avoid the tourist hot spots. Slightly envious of your time there. We Vegemite eaters are fairly dismissive of marmite….
Too funny—is there really a difference?
Indeed, Marmite is sweet in comparison to vegemite
Wow! I’m gonna have to search some out. Not sure
Vegemite is available here, but now I’m intrigued!
Aussie kids are brought up eating Vegemite but for others it’s bit of an acquired taste.
I envy your ability to recreate food from a vacation–all I do is come home and pine for whatever new food I learned to love. And plan a trip back.
Aaw, thanks. All the credit goes to Steve, who did trial and error when I was buried in post-vacation work. It’s always a fun thing, though, to try and think what we might do!
Great hack! Looks very tasty! Thank you for sharing your trip too. Sounds like it was a great time!
It was! Stay tuned, though. We might yet memorialize our fabulous East Village crawl!
I am so making these. We were virtually weaned on Marmite so we both love it and my husband is addicted to Twiglets. Weirdly, though, they are mostly sold around Christmas (your timing was impeccable) and Robert complains that they’ve changed the recipe for the worse in recent years. Despite all this it’s honestly never occurred to me to try making my own, something I shall have to rectify, so thanks to Steve for the recipe. And next time you come, make a side trip to Suffolk! We’d love to meet you. Linda x
I said, “oh, I don’t think I like these much.” And then I looked around and the bag was gone. 🙂 And, yes, Suffolk here we come…
Haha! I know that feeling. And great, hope to see you, maybe next year?
That would be great!
ah, i can think of so many places that I hope you got to see but didn’t list in this post. It’s a truly marvelous city. Lunch looked fantastic!!!
We have peculiar vacation tastes. But, yeah, we did other stuff. And lots of good restaurants.
Love, love, love twiglets and luckily can buy them at our local British shop. I’ve never tried to make them, but now thanks to Steve I can give it a go. I love your images, are they developed into B&W sepia tone?
Thanks, and do give it a go. They just might be better than bought Twiglets. 🙂 Honestly, I can’t tell you what I did with those pics. I don’t think sepia, exactly. But they were edited in Spapfish on my phone. I know it’s lazy, but I loathe Photoshop and find that works best for me.
Thanks for the Snapfish info. I’ve not used them but will have a look as I’m tired of the monthly fee for Adobe.
Oof, I meant Snapseed. Sorry.
Such a fascinating (if expensive!) city, London. Haven’t been there in years. Need to get back! Certainly an interesting time to visit, too…
Oh, interesting times indeed. Though horrible. I don’t know what took me so long to get there, but I really enjoyed it!
These look like a whole lot of fun to eat…happy nibbling on twiglets!
Mmmmm, I think we’ll have to make these again!