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.
- 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.