Sourdough, Marmite and Butter Bread Sauce

By Neil Rankin From the book Low and Slow
Sourdough, Marmite and Butter Bread Sauce

This is not the traditional recipe where you spike the onion with the cloves and all that jazz. Never much saw the point of that myself. Also, I use sourdough, which has more flavour than straight white bread, and a small dollop of marmite to give a yeasty boost. And I always use more butter than normal because, well, who doesn't like butter? 

For how many? Serves 4-5


  • 1/2 loaf of sourdough bread
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf (break the leaf to release more flavour)
  • 3 pinches nutmeg
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • 1 tsp Marmite (or more if you dig it)
  • Maldon salt and black pepper


1. Set your oven to 100c. Cut the crusts off the sourdough and reserve, then cut the bread into cubes. Spread the cubes on a baking tray and dry them out a little in the oven, then pulse in a blender or food processor to make breadcrumbs. You can about 150g of breadcrumbs for this recipe.

2. Heat 25g of the butter with a little oil in a saucepan and add your onions with a tiny pinch of salt. Sweat for a few minutes until the onion starts to develop a gentle colour, then add the clove, bay leaf and nutmeg. Let the spices cook out a little until you get a nice aroma filling the room. Add your bread crusts (they're full of flavour) and then the milk. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 1-2 hours (or 30 minutes if you're impatient).

3. Strain the milk and get it back on the heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook on a low heat until they swell and the sauce thickens. Cube up the rest of your butter and add very slowly, one cube at a time, until you have incorporated every last bit, stirring as you go. 

4. Finish with the cream, Marmite and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Serve almost immediately. 

Burnt bread sauce: Cut the load into thick slices (leave the crusts on if you like, they add extra flavour) and toast until the bread is slightly burnt but with still some bounce to it. Blitz it up into breadcrumbs, then continue with the recipe as above. 

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