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, 8 March 2011


400g (or 2 mugs) strong flour – either all white or a mix of white and wholemeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh yeast
250ml (or 2/3rds mug) lukewarm water
2 tbs olive oil

Olive oil to drizzle

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 if using.

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 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.

3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag – all day if necessary - until you are ready for step 5. Or go straight to step 5.

5. When you are ready to proceed, knock the dough back and roll it out to about 3cm (1 inch) thick on a lightly floured worktop. Place it on a prepared baking sheet.

6. Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips into the dough so it leaves impressions about a centimetre deep. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread, so that the holes are filled. Leave to prove until it has risen appreciably.

7. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 30-35 minutes.

Towards the end of the baking period the oil on top of the focaccia mysteriously disappears. One moment it’s there – and the next it’s gone!

Here's a slightly different version I made to bake in my chiminea tonight (8/3/11):
250g Doves organic wholemeal strong flour
50g strong white
30g ground flaxseeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
215g lukewarm water and 5g tomato puree
10g fresh yeast
25-30g extra virgin olive oil

I wanted this in a hurry (hence the tomato puree - for the vitamin C which helps gluten form) so I quickly mixed a sticky dough - left it for about ten minutes, shaped it into a cob shape then rolled it out into a 2cm thick oval. This was then placed on baking parchment on a baking tray with a lip (to catch any olive oil that may escape!).
Deep holes were pressed in the dough and filled with olive oil
 The chiminea was now ready, so, to give the focaccia a kickstart by which time it was risen enoughI placed it in the oven for just one minute. It was then taken out for 5. This was repeated once more, then left in for between 15-18 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see the bottom wasn’t burning. After this time the underneath was cooked, but the top was showing no sign of browing – although the olive oil had disappeared, which was a good sign the loaf was nearly ready.

After 7 or 8 minutes upside down the bread was cooked. And it tasted just gorgeous! 


...and bottom

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