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.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

FUNDRAISING FOR YMCA AND TAH (Taunton Association for the Homeless)

Wednesday 13th July 2016
This morning I was invited in to BBC Radio Somerset, where I gave two interviews on the Breakfast Show. In the first (02:04 into the show), lasting about 5 minutes, I was given the opportunity to explain the background to my challenge - and I was also given the chance to outline the part Intermittent Fasting (5:2 diet) had played in my overall fitness.

Then, later on (at 2:25 on that link), I was brought back on to show the announcer, Claire Carter, how to do a proper press up - by lying on the floor and pushing yourself up. As you'll hear, under my guidance, she managed her first ever!

Press ups on the radio - it doesn't get any more rock and roll than that! :)

Shortly after this I went over the road to the lawn in front of County Hall where they filmed me in action.

Previously... [I've done it! Just completed 1175 press ups in one hour. Update at foot of post.]
On Friday the 1st of July I shall attempt to complete 1000 press ups in under one hour. I'm asking for sponsors to contribute 1 penny per press up - but, of course, I'll accept any contribution, no matter how small.

Here's my Just Giving page, where anyone interested can donate.

Initially my goal was to raise £300, but I feel I can do better than that, so I've increased my target to £600. 

Here's the story of how all this came about.

Just over 4 years ago I started Intermittent Fasting (IF) after reading about it helping to keep prostate cancer at bay. I joined a forum on Mumsnet devoted to IF and I’ve been practicing 5:2 ever since, losing 24lbs in the process. I’m now doing 6:1 for maintenance.

Two and a half years ago, I was encouraged, on an associated Mumsnet thread, to take up home-based exercises - and learned how to do a proper pushup. The ethos of the thread is that you should keep pushing yourself to see what you can accomplish.

This is a post from the thread last November:

Someone, can't think where, recently mentioned 1000 press ups in a day. I was idly musing on this with the YMCA manager, Keith, saying that it was an achievable goal for sometime in the future. He perked up his ears and said that could be a fundraiser - "78-year-old bloke does 1000 press ups in a day.

So that’s where the challenge came from.

TBH, I’m amazed at how quick my progress has been. If it tells me anything, it tells me we’re all capable of doing more than we think.

I put my fitness down to three things - first of all, the amount of extra energy I get from regularly practicing Intermittent Fasting - IF; secondly, body weight exercises and HIIT; and thirdly, the fact that I’ve been a vegan for the past 13 or so years.  

I'm actually well on course to beat my target with just under three weeks to go. 1000 press ups in an hour requires an average of 17 every minute. And initially I thought I'd go for 20 every minute for the first 300 or so, then drop down to 17 a minute, finishing on 14 a minute. But, the more I trained, the more I realised that I can manage 20 a minute for the full hour. And to make sure I'm really comfortable with 20 a minute, I'm currently doing 25 a minute. Yesterday I did 500 in under 20 minutes.

Tuesday 14th June 
Tonight I had a full dress rehearsal - I completed 1200 press ups in 59mins 20 seconds. I did this in sets of 20 every minute - and I felt fine, but the last 3 or 4 of each set, once I'd reached 1000, were hard. But I know that those are the ones which will improve my performance, so I didn't mind too much. From now on until the day of the challenge, I intend to train on every 3rd day, doing 25 every minute - probably up to 200 or so - but I'll see how I go.

Friday 1st July
Well, I did it! 1175 pushups in one hour - witnessed by YMCA staff and a Somerset County Gazette reporter!

I intended to do sets of 20 pushups every minute, on the minute, aiming for 1200 - but there was a bit of slippage somewhere, since I ran out of time. :(

I can't deny I found the last couple of press ups of each set were getting tougher as I neared my goal; but still, each set averaged out at around 16-17 seconds. 

And I can't deny that I got my body lower at the beginning of the exercise than I managed towards the end!

But, all in all, I'm very happy! :)

If anyone wishes to help me celebrate my achievement, my Just Giving page link is towards the top of this post.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Portfolio for students

This post is intended as a resource for my students, giving them an idea of what breads can be made on my courses. The pics have been gathered from over the past couple of years.

It's by no means an exhaustive list, if there is a bread that a student would like to make that isn't here, then we'll have a go at making it.

To begin with, here's a comparison between the three types of yeast, with a half and half white and wholemeal flour mix.

Dried active yeast (100% pure yeast) Sainsbury's 'fast action' dried yeast (93% yeast plus additives) and fresh yeast

After an hour's proving, the dried yeast and the fresh yeast doughs were slightly better risen. The fast action yeast dough would catch up, given time
I've divided the breads into three categories:

Plain breads - tinned loaves, freeform loaves, focaccia, ciabatta, etc,

Grissini with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. The slight kink enables you to turn them over easily to cook the bottoms if they're not done enough.
I think this was two thirds wholemeal and one third white - 800g of dough just comes up to about 2/3rds of the way up the tin
Fully risen and ready to bake. I should have put it in the oven earlier and allowed the loaf to rise in the oven - oven spring as it is known. 
Think I may have added sesame seeds to the mix - I made this last December, and I can't remember. Looks like it!
A batch of white rolls, huddled together to form a loaf

They were proved and baked for the first 10 minutes under a metal toasting dish - hence the flat top

Well risen, but it's not easy to see the crumb as my camera isn't that great!

More rolls - wholemeal this time.
Fancy dinner rolls

I made 70 altogether for a friends birthday party

Savoury - pizzas, sizzlers, pane casereccio,

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

Pane casereccio. Dough rolled out flat, covered with a filling, rolled up and the ends tucked in
The finished article. The filling leaked a bit - bursting with good ingredients, I say!

From memory, the filling was mushrooms, peppers and onions poached in a little sauce. Traditionally a PC would contain Gruyere and Italian sausage, but, in truth you can put anything in there!
Haggis en croute - plus some spare breadsticks

Yeast-Rise canap├ęs - mushroom pate, pesto and mushrooms

Field mushrooms, stuffed with pesto and mushroom pate, and covered with a tasty bread dough
(dough flavoured with bouillon powder and curry powder)

Vegan pizza with mushroom pate (Pateole) and pesto, peppers and tomatoes

Sweet - spicy fruit buns, Chelsea buns, petit pain au chocolat, jam doughnuts
Swedish Tea Ring. Fruited dough rolled out as if for Chelsea buns, but covered with oil, sugar and flaked almonds. Rolled up, formed into a circle and cut half way across at intervals. Dredged with icing sugar.

Chocolate and banana bread. One circle covered with chocolate spread and banana, the other placed over the top and tucked in all round

Then given a sugar glaze when it is baked

The gooey, soft, middle. I never seem to put enough filling in - the bread always rises too much!
Christmas loaf (or Celebration bread). The slices will show up yellow, red and green - very festive! It's a variation of a stollen - and the dough can be as rich or as plain as you wish

My grandchildren call this 'Traffic light bread'!

A sugar glaze just finishes it off
Belgian buns made with soaked cranberries. The method is very similar to Chelsea buns - the difference being the dough is rolled up along the short side making for a thicker roll - the slices are cut thinner, making for flatter buns.
Huddled together - I should have put the smallest ones in the middle

Decorating isn't my strongest suit. I'm always happy to see my students bread made neater than mine - not too difficult!
Large jam tarts, made with a sweetened dough
Iced buns and croissants

Italian chocolate bread

Sunday, 3 July 2016

BREADMAKING AT THE PLANET CAFE, (Taunton's newest vegan cafe)

Tuesday 5th July 2016 - 2nd session
Pizzas and petit pain au chocolate today - and I di remember to take pics! (Well, some!)

Pizzas being put to prove:

Wendy's homemade vegan mozzarella is the star of these pizzas

In line with the vegan ethos of the course, Wendy made everyone some Mozzarella cheese, which was well received. We also had a taste of some vegan feta and Cheddar - these have certainly opened my eyes to vegan cheese possibilities!

Next week we're making focaccia and Chelsea buns.

[More to come]

Tuesday 28th June 2016 - 1st session
8 students turned up, which is exactly the number I was hoping for when I began planning for the course. I was expecting 7 women and 1 man, so when a second man arrived, I was a little surprised. 

However, 'Priscilla' turned out to be Mike, who'd been given the course as a present from his partner.  :)

The session went pretty much to plan - everyone made a soda bread and a batch of bread rolls, and also took away a batch of 'high-hydration' dough to bake at home.

One thing I neglected to do - and this often happens - I didn't take any photo's of the lovely breads that were produced by the students.

A call went out to the students to take pics of any bread they hadn't yet eaten - and, of course, the loaf they had made at home.

Sarah responded with this pic:

Sarah's soda bread at the front, with the high-hydration loaf behind

Thanks, Sarah!

I'd recommended that the students bake their dough the same night, but Michele thought she'd prefer to leave it until the morning. I hadn't done this myself for a while, so I persuaded her to bake it that same night.

I'd made a demonstration batch myself, and I thought I'd better leave this until the morning.

Here's the result:

It took a good couple of hours to rise 
I proved it by using the microwave as a proving cabinet, placing a mug of boiling water alongside the loaftin in the microwave.

The Vegan Breadmaking made Easy course starts Tues 28th June 6-8. A 5wk course-making 10 or so different breads.

Intros/labels/register - icebreaker - expectations - what’s going to happen tonight.

My planning:
  1. Demo of a fruit soda bread and a plain one - Students follow suit - bread goes in oven
2.  Demo of high-hydration loaf - Students follow suit - put to one side
3. FDRs - students make 6 rolls - put to prove (check soda breads)
4. Re-visit HH dough - knead it using olive oil
Demo of shaping HH loaf. Oil plastic bags for dough

Bake FDRs

Whiteboard: soda breads: 1 cup flour; 1.5 tsp bp;
either: 1/4 tsp salt Or: 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp m/spice, 1 cup sultanas
1/3rd cup cold water and splash of olive oil
Three cups flour (either all white or 2 w/m to 1 white), tsp salt, 1.5 cups lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon yeast + olive oil
FDRs - 1 cup flour - 1/4 tsp salt - 1/3rd cup l/warm water - 1 tsp yeast

My aim is to change students' attitude to breadmaking - to bring it into your comfort zone. 

Over the next 4 weeks we can make at least another 8 different breads/cakes/

 - and I’d like to spend half a session on GF

Thursday, 30 June 2016


Tasty tomato pizza (Cost, around 70p)

150g (1 mug) strong white flour 7.5p
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional)
100g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast 4p (from Sainsbury's - free from Asda)
25g sunflower oil from s-d-tomatoes (free)

Topping:Half a tin of tomatoes, reduced, with a tsp soya sauce and dried herbs - 20p
One sliced mushroom and tomato - 10p(?)
A little Roasted red pepper - 10p
3 s-d-tomatoes, chopped - 20p 
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

EAT, FAST, AND LIVE LONGER - How I began Intermittent Fasting

[14th August 2013 - discharged from the Lung Clinic.][Notes from a talk I gave to Taunton Humanists in March about Intermittent Fasting - including all I've learned over the past year.][Walking is no longer enough - my extra energy levels since fasting][Intermittent Fasting and the Hunger Switch] - why we feel more hunger on non-fasting days.]How it all started, for me:I began this eating programme (it's not a diet, it's a way of living - WOL) on the 27th Feb 2012. The story begins at the foot of the post if you want to read about my journey in chronological order. The links to the various research documents I've come across are posted as I found them.In early August 2012, Dr Michael Mosley presented a BBC Horizon programme on the subject of fasting, including Calorie Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF). This backed up everything I'd discovered  about the health benefits of fasting - and I switched from 50% of calories on two days a week to the full-blown 25% of calories (600 calories or less).

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

BREADMAKING SESSIONS with the Taunton Association for the Homeless (TAH)

Wednesday 15th June 2016
Jam - and chocolate spread - doughnuts again today, requested by Becky. We were joined by first-timers Ian and Trevor, who both did very well. No time for a second bread, since I was keen to get to the cricket*. And no pics, either - I completely forgot! :(

Next week, pizzas.

*Unfortunately, the cricket was rained off - ah well!

Wednesday 8th June 2016
Last week's students asked to make Chelsea buns today - but 3 different students attended, none of whom liked sultanas! :(

So they all made jam doughnuts:

...and Lianne's, showing the inside of one.
They were pronounced 'gorgeous' by Lianne.