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.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Or: What to do with that leftover mincemeat!

Christmas shapes, mainly with mincemeat.

Since the beginning of December I have been making nothing but Christmas breads in my sessions:
Mincemeat doughnuts
Mincemeat snowmen, snowballs, Christmas trees, stars – and reindeer poo!

Some sessions I’ve simply called, ‘Fun with mincemeat’.

Here’s my basic sweet dough recipe for the mincemeat filled breads:

200g strong white flour                                                      
1 dsp sugar      
1 tsp mixed spice (optional)                 
1 tsp fresh yeast
125ml lukewarm water
1 tbs olive oil (optional)
A small jar of mincemeat       

  1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour, sugar and mixed spice into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil if using.
  1. 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 as it forms. 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.
  1. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!
Christmas tree: Divide the dough into two, form into balls and roll out into two ovals. Cut out 2 Christmas tree shapes and a small star. Place one of the tree shapes on your prepared baking tray.

Spread mincemeat over the tree on your tray and place the other tree shape over the top. Place the star at the top of the tree and press the dough of the star and the tree together.

After baking, brush with sugar glaze and stick slivers of different coloured glace cherries for candles on the branches. Or just dredge icing sugar over your tree.

Snowmen: Roll out the dough to a large pizza size. Using a set of pastry cutters, cut an equal number of large, medium and small circles. Place half of them on your prepared baking tray with the medium circles overlapping the large circles, then the small circles overlapping the medium circles to form snowmen shapes. Spread mincemeat over the snowmen, then put the top circles on. After baking, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Snowballs. Exactly the same as snowmen - place one circle of dough on the baking sheet, place a teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle, then cover with another circle of dough.

Reindeer poo. Any leftover bit of dough can be turned into reindeer poo. Divide the dough into four and shape into small balls. Place three on the baking sheet, huddled together, then place the last one on top. When these are baked they can be covered in melted chocolate. When the chocolate is cold, you can sprinkle these with a little icing sugar to represent snow.

  1. When your bread is shaped, leave to prove until the dough has become puffy.
  1. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 10-15 minutes. Look for some shade of brown underneath. Place on a cooling rack. When cool, add the finishing touches.

And this batch was made with one of my students with learning disabilities. They're all filled with mincemeat - except for the reindeer poo, which is simply 4 small balls of sweetened bread dough covered with melted chocolate.

Have fun!

Here's a few pics:
These were made in one of my sessions by a couple of homeless guys...

Thursday 23rd August.
Fun with mincemeat today: mincemeat doughnuts, mincemeat Swedish tea rings, mincemeat apfel kuchen (German apple cake), large mincemeat tart, mincemeat Chelsea buns, mincemeat Bialys.

Chelsea buns and a couple of doughnuts
Swedish tea ring and doughnuts

Mincemeat tart, apfel kuchen (German apple cake) and bialys

There are several ways to approach using mincemeat in apfel kuchens, Chelsea buns and Swedish tea rings: they can be made with dried fruit in the mix as per normal, then spread with mincemeat before being rolled up; they can have the mincemeat incorporated in the mix instead of dried fruit; or, as happened here, they were made with a plain sweetened dough which was then spread with the mincemeat.

I sampled the German apple cake and one of the Chelsea buns - and they were simply gorgeous - we certainly don't make enough of mincemeat away from the Christmas season.

Each of these batches of bread is made using 160g of flour to 100g of water - so they're not very big. Just goes to show that in breadmaking, a little goes a long way!

Thursday 24th March 2011
The pineapple and mincemeat loaf was just a simple spicy fruit dough, rolled out and covered with mincemeat - then turned over on top of the slices of pineapple which were placed on the baking paper.

Pineapple and mincemeat upside-down loaf

Thursday 26th April 2012

At Longrun care home this morning, where the residents made mincemeat doughnuts. A great variation on these is to place a flattened disc of marzipan on the circle of dough before placing the mincemeat on top. The combination of marzipan and mincemeat is very tasty!

 At the back there are several of Adrian's jam pasties, since we'd run out of mincemeat.

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