No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


I've made this a couple of times, and it's absolutely gorgeous! I'll get the recipe and pics up on here ASAP.

Just wanted to put up a link for my students.

2 smaller ones made with 1 mug flour

Basically, the base is a simple pizza dough, using sugar rather than salt. It's then rolled out flat, with a thin layer of marzipan and a topping of frozen summer fruits. A sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon finishes it off.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


Tuesday 4th July 2017
5th week - jam doughnuts and tarts/pizza and calzone today (It was supposed to be mushroom en croute - but I forgot the mushrooms! We made a calzone with mushroom pate and pesto instead.)

Marion's 'Fun with Jam' shaped and put to prove

Vivien's. Doughnuts, jam tart and sweet Bialys




John's pizza with nutritional yeast and vegan mozzarella
(More to come - I took 31 pics today, thanks to John giving me a nudge now and then. )

Tuesday 27th June 2017
I've been running this course for several weeks now, with every intention of posting about it - and now I've managed to get round to it.

6 students have been attending for the past four weeks - with 2 to go - and, so far, these complete beginners have made 13 different varieties of bread:

A College loaf - tear and share. Not sure who's this is.

John's College loaf 

For the college loaves, half of the students made a wholemeal dough, while the other half made a dough from white flour - then they swapped half each.

I think these are Viv's pain au chocoat - I know she made 8! :)

Jackie and Nic's college loaves, naan breads, pittas and pain au chocolat

More incognito bread! - Naan, pittas and pain au chocolat

I always ask students to identify their bread with an initial - but it's often an afterthought and sometimes overlooked, both of which are my fault. The initial does two things, it enables students to be reunited with their own bread, and it allows me to identify who has made which batch.

Lynne's naans and pittas

Marion's pittas, naan and pain au chocolat

Jackie and Nic's  chocolate and banana bread and garlic 'batons' - slightly nibbled!

As you've noticed, some of the breads are darker than others - partly this is to do with the ovens, but occasionally, the bread gets forgotten about, and becomes a bit singed!

The students also made a batch of 'high-hydration' dough to take home with them - this is a method of getting more water into a bread dough. You make the dough stickier than usual, then give it several 10-20 second kneadings over an hour or two. Each time you re-visit the dough it's slightly less sticky than before.

During the shaping demos, Vivien showed us how to do a 5-strand plait:

I took a video of Viv doing this - if I can upload it, I will.

Since yesterday's session I've received a couple of emails:

Jackie wrote:

Hi Paul 
When we got home the bread was pushing its way out of the container !! and wow when we cooked it was lovely so pleased , Nic took his loaf to Cornwall this evening to share with his Mum n Dad.
I loved the result and so easy thanks so much 

And Lynne wrote:

Dear Paul,
It made delicious toast for my husband and I this morning and I feel very pleased with my efforts. The garlic batons were to die for. Probably my favourite so far. I had eaten 1 before I drove home yesterday and managed to share the other with my hubby over a pasta supper dish. 

Absolutely splendid, is my verdict!

Since this course is all about gaining the skills to make bread at home, it's good to see the results from the student's own kitchens!

Monday, 3 July 2017

GARLIC BATONS - in the oven and frying pan (Vegan)

Saturday 1st July 2017
Since I began teaching at Taunton Association of the Homeless, a couple of years ago, I've made quite a bit of bread in a frying pan, along with the students. When they find accommodation, they may not always have an oven, but they may well have a hob and a frying pan. 

Last week the students on my current Burnham breadmaking opted to make garlic batons, as below, in the oven. So I wanted to see how these would fare, making them in a frying pan.

I used self raising flour, as I often do, these days:
Put the frying pan on a medium heat
100g s/raising flour
Pinch of salt
65ml water

Mixed into a dough and kneaded for a minute or two
Roll out into a rectangle a bit shorter than the frying pan

Garlic spread:
3 cloves garlic, smashed 
Heaped dessertspoon vegan spread -mixed together

Spread the garlic, et, over the dough and roll it up tightly.

Using a little flour and a rolling pin, flatten the dough and place it in the frying pan with a lid of some sort. Bake for 4 minutes each side - the colour should finish up a golden brown. 

Not like this one...

I baked it too long on both sides.

Still tasted gorgeous, though!

I made one for my neighbour - his verdict was, "Stunning!"

Sometime back in 2011.
Whenever I'm offered garlic bread at a gathering it's almost inevitably a supermarket baguette, cut into chunks, slathered with butter and garlic and baked for a while. It's OK, but it doesn't have the depth of flavour of these batons, where the bread and the filling are cooked together. Vary the filling as you will, with herbs, pesto, etc. As a vegan, I use olive oil instead of butter.
Garlic batons. Dough rolled out flat, covered with mashed garlic and olive oil, then rolled up like a Swiss roll

This method infuses the whole loaf with garlic

400g strong white flour of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml lukewarm water
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
Good splash of olive oil

Garlic spread made with around a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed, and olive oil to taste. Mix in any herbs or spices you fancy. Spread with pesto to give it a bit more oomph.

1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up! Either leave it, covered, for an hour or so, or go to step 4.

4. Divide the dough in two and form each piece into a round bap shape. Roll each piece out into a large rectangle – about 20cm by 30cm on a floured worktop. Spread the filling all over the dough and roll each piece up like a Swiss roll, with the seam side underneath. Gently tuck the ends underneath to stop any leakage. (You’ll still get a bit.) Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

5. Leave to prove until they have risen appreciably.

6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. Look for colour underneath.

Friday, 16 June 2017


I'm a member of an informal discussion group, meeting monthly. Whoever hosts decides the topic to be discussed.

Yesterday we met at mine - and I chose veganism, with an emphasis on health, but necessarily touching on animal welfare and global warming.

Over the last few weeks, I've been sending them links and references on the subject, including the film Cowspiracy.

I began the session intending to show them the first 10 minutes of Michael Greger's 'How not to die' video. I thought I'd better cut it short when Michael Greger had finished with the subject of halting and reversing CAD, but the group wanted to carry on watching. We watched a further 10 minutes, on the subject of cancer, then we had a discussion on what we'd seen and heard. They were very receptive, much to my surprise. I was helped by one of the group who had been reading my copy of 'How not to die', and several times read pertinent passages from it. He made a particular point of telling the group that the science was sound - there were 135 pages of references at the end of the book.

After an hour or so, I gave them coffee, plus a selection of about a dozen vegan goodies which I'd prepared - Fry's polony; 2 types of hard cheese (including Vegusto); cream cheese; homemade pizza and breadsticks; my Thai chilli non carne; nutritional yeast; seitan; Mrs Crimble's stem ginger cake; Booja Booja chocolate ice cream; and some dark chocolate. My message was that you don't have to be deprived on a vegan diet.

Then we had a further half an hour of discussion - I was asked to relate my own story, so I told them how and why I became vegan, including the positive effects this had on my own health - and we wrapped it up.

One of the group took us all by surprise by saying that he intended to give a vegan diet a go for a fortnight! He very much related to my story of how my sinuses had dried up after giving up dairy - he not only had a constant nasal drip, but he had asthma as well. So we'll see how well he does.
The friend who'd borrowed my copy of the book, and another friend were concerned that their main stumbling block would be how their wives would react. I said that if they bought some vegan goodies, the mere fact that they were in the house would make it easier to begin the process of transitioning. Something I'm working on myself.
Another member of the group emailed me to say, "Brilliant morning. Lots to consider now for a life change." After the discussion, he'd confided in me that he hadn't been looking forward to the morning, expecting simply a boring chat about veganism!

So, 4 out of 5 ain't bad! It's certainly the best reaction to my spreading the  word that I've had in 14 years!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

BREADMAKING MADE EASY Wellington 25/5/17

Mon 6th June 2017
Last session today - here's the group with some of their bread. Over the past 6 weeks together they made around 18 varieties of bread.

Naans, pitta, marzipan and apple tartlets (with dates as an alternative) and a college, tear and share loaf to finish with.

Here's a pic that Dave sent me after missing the last session. He made a small chocolate and banana loaf and turned the other half of the dough into Chelsea buns.

Tuesday 23rd May 2017
Stuffed mushrooms, chocolate and banana bread and loaves. We didn't bake the loaves in the session, instead the students took the dough home and baked it there. Here's a pic that Wendy sent me of her loaf:

Cottage loaf with cuts
And Elaine sent me this:

A tinned loaf

Tuesday 16th May 2017
Fun with jam, sizzlers and Peshwari naan

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Saturday 15th January 2011
This coming Saturday morning I want to conduct an experiment. I want to see if we can get a group of people all making bread at the same time. Beginners and families especially welcome.

I thought 'petit pain au chocolat' because, a) they’re fun to make, and, b) because they’re one of the easiest, most satisfying things you can make. (And because they come with a free French lesson!)

Starting at 10am, I’ll be measuring and mixing the dough, shaping the rolls and putting them to prove. I’ll log each step on here, and put pics on my blog.

This recipe will make 8-10 chocolate rolls.

Here’s the recipe I’ll be following:
200g strong white flour (although you can use plain flour if that’s all you’ve got)
1 dessertspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon yeast (either fresh or dried active yeast)
125ml lukewarm water

8-16 pieces of eating chocolate – any sort you like - depending on how much chocolate you intend to use in each roll
1 teaspoon sugar for a glaze

I’ll endeavour to include every piece of information about the ingredients and the process I can think of, including variations, calorie content, etc, and answer any questions you may have.

When you’ve been making bread for a while, some of the process becomes automatic, so I really have to think about every step of the way from a beginner’s perspective. Don’t hesitate to ask about anything I haven’t fully explained.

For this sort of bread I generally use all white flour. However, you can use 50:50 wholemeal and white (you can use all wholemeal, but this makes for a heavy bread not really suited (IMO) for a pain au chocolat.) Own-brand is fine - the last time I checked Lidl's was cheapest at 75p and Sainsbury's at 95p.

Granulated is absolutely fine. There’s no advantage to be gained by using caster sugar. You could use other types, but I doubt you’d tell the difference.

I generally use fresh - currently 20p for 50g at Sainsbury's (or available from small bakeries - where they make bread on the premises), but I always have a tin of dried active yeast in the fridge (keeps better in there) in case I run out. Available from small bakeries or the bakery counter in large supermarkets, often. Dried active yeast is made by Allinson's and comes in a yellow tin by the flour shelves in supermarkets - currently 64p. It literally keeps for years - in the fridge once opened.

As a general rule, use half as much dried yeast as you would fresh. However, for small amounts such as we’re using, a teaspoon of either will suffice.

Dried active yeast (almost a teaspoon)
Fresh yeast (purchased on 9/12/10 - kept in the fridge in a plastic bag)
Yeast (like bacteria!) needs warmth, moisture, food – and time. Given these four things, it will thrive.

Needs to be approximately blood heat (hand hot, or lukewarm). One third boiling water to two-thirds cold water will give you the right temperature for yeast every time. But always dip your fingers in the water to check.

Good quality eating chocolate is better for this bread – although you can use cooking chocolate if you have some you want to use up.

Shopping list:
1 bag strong bread flour (white) 
Yeast - fresh if you can find it, but pop a tin of dried active yeast in your basket, anyway. Then you always have it in.
Chocolate. Your favourite sort. 
Granulated sugar.

Scales, measuring jug, baking tray, baking parchment (a roll of this lasts for years, since each piece is reusable until it falls apart), cooling rack, pastry brush.

I think that's it for now. I'm sure someone will remind me if I've forgotten anything.

If anyone would like to forgo all this and just make them now - the full recipe is to be found here.

See you Saturday!

It’s up to you how much chocolate you use – a small piece or two pieces joined together. The pieces at the top are from a 100g 70% chocolate bar with only 10 pieces, one of them divided in two.
For a video of the method and techniques we're using - up to dividing the dough, have a look at this 'Sizzler' recipe on YouTube. (However, don't forget, in this recipe we're using sugar and not salt.)

Once the dough is made, it is divided into 8 pieces:

Divided into two...

...and eventually into 8. The larger piece is a quarter of the dough (or 2 eighths) to show you how big the rolls will grow when they've doubled in size. As you can see, I've put various amounts of chocolate on top of the lumps of dough.
Top left I've got 1 whole piece of a large square of chocolate, divided in two and placed one on top of the other.  The one at the bottom is half of one of those pieces as is the one to its right. the rest are either 1 or 2 pieces of an ordinary bar of dark chocolate.
Here I am squidging and pinching the dough together round the chocolate.
Carefully seal any gap, pinching the dough together quite tightly.
Turn the dough over and, using your cupped hand, gently roll it round to smooth it into a pleasing shape. 
When turned over with the seam underneath, the weight of the dough helps keep the seam intact

As you can see, I'm not all that bothered about them all being the same size. The three with the little knobs on are filled with dairy-free chocolate (mine, in other words!). I've put them on used baking parchment to rise (prove), to show that this paper will go in an out of the oven many times before it falls apart. Leave them on your worktop, covered with a tea towel to keep out any draughts. Check them every 15-20 minutes to see if they've risen.
Now they have begun to show a definite rise - the gap between the rolls is a lot less and the dough has smoothed out - it's time to put the oven on. Don't worry about a time limit - this is the time for patience; the bread will rise on your worktop.

Fresh from the oven - and chocolate has escaped from just the one!
Brushed with sugar glaze - this just finishes them off.
Place them on a cooling rack. These rolls are at their best as soon as  they're cool enough to eat. Cut in half they cool quicker. Use either a pair of scissors or a good bread knife  - but don't press down too hard on new bread; let the knife do the work!

Now is the time to sit back, enjoy your pain au chocolat and plan what bread you're going to make next!

Saturday morning - I posted these messages on both the BBC Food board, and the Wildfood board:

At 1004 I posted this:

Okey, dokey, here we go!

Weighed 200g flour and added a dessertspoon of sugar.

Measured 125ml (or grams) of lukewarm water

Stirred in a teaspoon of dried active yeast.

But if you've got fresh yeast, use that instead.

Added to mixing bowl.

Begun to mix together.

At 1020 I posted this:

As I was mixing I had to take a phone call. Picked the phone up with my hand in a plastic bag.

Back to work...

Mix was a bit dry, so I added a bit more water - you're looking for a soft, squishy dough.

Always good to have a little water to hand when mixing.

Kneaded the dough - just flattening and folding - for about 20 kneading actions, by which time the dough had become smooth and all the little bits had disappeared (that's all you're looking for).

Now about to divide the dough into 8, and break the chocolate up into squares.

And at 1037 I posted this on both threads:

All done, now. 

The rolls are proving on the worktop, covered with a tea towel

It was a bit fiddly, since I made the dough a little too sticky.

I found myself using a table knife to lift up each piece of dough off the worktop.

And I forgot to distinguish the two rolls I'd filled with chilli chocolate! 

Anybody out there?

Any questions, any time.

So far I've had one response - from Suffolk, who's taking notes ATM.

At 11.19 I posted:

Bread showing definite signs of rising - just put the oven on at 220C

At 11.36 I posted:

The oven's now up to temperature, but, looking at the rolls I decided they hadn't risen enough.

Once the oven is on I feel an obligation to get them in there as soon as I can.

So, to give them a lift, I decided to give them a blast of heat.

I put them in the oven for 1 minute only, then took them out again.

I'll check them again in 5 minutes, by which time they may well be ready to bake.

At 11.46 I posted:

That's done the trick - in the oven and the timer set for 8 minutes.

They'll need turning round at that time, and need probably another 4 minutes baking.

At 11.52 I posted:

Now's the time to put the kettle on for a cup of tea or coffee with your fresh pain au chocolat - and to make the sugar glaze.

Warm the jug, place one teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of boiling water in there - whisk for a minute or two, then you're ready.

Leave the rolls on the baking parchment while you glaze them - it's easier to wipe the paper than it is to wipe the cooling rack later on!

At 12.30 (by which time they'd been out about 20 minutes) I posted:

Well, they're out, glazed - and one of them has mysteriously disappeared!

I'll put a pic up of the remaining 7 shortly.

They're not as brown as I'd like - and that's because, using the small top oven, the shelf was down the bottom.

When I checked after 8 minutes, the tops were still very pale. I put the shelf as high as it would go and turned off the bottom element.

After another 5 minutes, the rolls were done, but still not very brown on top, as you'll see.

(I should have said I distinguished what I thought was the chilli chocolate ones with a snip from a pair of scissors.)

Just heard from my wife that I failed miserably in identifying the chilli ones - she's just had one and she hates chilli!

Not as good looking as the last lot - but not bad for all that!
At around 12.15, Sara posted this message on the BBC food board:
Hi Paul. Just taken mine out of the oven and glazed them - they look delish! About to tuck in - Sara and Phil

And a little while later, she posted again:
They were really yummy - we demolished the whole lot!

Which was rather nice!

On the Sunday I heard from LeCreusetFiend:
Just to say I made these this afternoon, and very well they went down too with a nice cup of tea!

Tatihou offered this on Saturday:
I started later than I planned but they are now lurking under a tea-towel, proofing peacefully. The kitchen's a bit cold this afternoon so might take a bit longer than yours.

And came back on Monday to say:
Those I made on Saturday rose well, looked lovely when they were glazed... and didn't last long.

However, one poster didn't fare so well:
To my shame and embarrassment they were an absolute disaster - took hours to rise even a teensy bit and ended up rock hard little stones that smelt like a brewery. I am going to blame the yeast, which was the right sort but had been in the back of a cupboard for several months, and get a new tin and try again next Sunday morning...........