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.

Friday, 16 December 2011

My Daily Bread (3)

This is the third post with this title. The first, begun in February, was fairly long - and the second, begun in May, was even longer.

In future I shall try to start a fresh post once a month.

In these posts I chronicle my daily breadmaking 'adventures'. In truth they mainly detail the various breads I make in a working week - and those I make at home. But occasionally,  as in the wood-fired oven pizza events I run occasionally, or the Occupy Bristol workshop I held this week, it truly is an adventure - in that I'm never sure how these things are going to pan out.

I try - but don't always succeed - to link to the recipe of any bread I mention on this thread. But 99% of the time, if you put the name of the bread in the 'Search this blog' box, you'll be directed to the recipe.

(To keep this post on the top of the page, I shall date it a week or so in advance.)

Tuesday 6th December.
Breadmaking at Williton today I was introduced to a  bread I'd never come across before, called a 'Manchip'. One of the students, Diane, was kind enough to bring in enough for everyone. This bread is apparently indigenous to Bridgwater, because I can find it nowhere else (google all you like!):

As you can see, it's a layered bread a bit like a croissant, but straight, about 15-18 cms long, and with jam running through the middle. It's finished with sugar sprinkled over the top.
Monday 5th December.
Taster session at the hostel for the homeless in preparation for a course I'll be running in January.

I met one of the guys who'd attended my course at the hostel earlier in the year - Brian. He told me he'd been making bread in the hostel ever since. In fact he'd made all the bread for a reception for the mayor the previous week. The guests were under the impression that the bread had been brought in, but Brian had made it all!

The session was a taster session, offering pizzas and other breads, and we had quite a good response. In the end we made:

Chelsea buns and petit pain au chocolat:

 And croissants:

Here's hoping for a good turnout when I do a couple of sessions in February (would be January, but the kitchen is having a complete refurb).

Sunday 4th December.
I've loads to add - but this is the main event - The Taste of Christmas Show.

Thursday 1st December.
Used the first session today practicing for Sunday's competition - trying to work out whether walnuts or almonds are best; or if cinnamon works better than mixed spice. Didn't come to any firm conclusions one way or another.

So we made 4 celebration loaves - and one batch of Marmite grissini, for Sarah, who much prefers savoury to sweet!

One loaf was half-eaten before I could take a pic! The closest one could have come out of the oven a couple of minutes earlier!
In the afternoon Matt made a celebration loaf - but with curry. Guy and Will made ring doughnuts, but I forgot to take a pic of these. Eric made this:
The now obligatory chocolate cake - with Melissa applying the icing
Tuesday 29th November.
Had a phone call this morning to say that the new student - Samantha - wouldn't be joining us at Williton this afternoon. A house move had suddenly got in the way. We might get to meet if I run a course in Bridgwater next year.

The session went well, with students making pizzas, sizzlers, jam doughnuts and a chocolate and banana loaves.

It's very noticeable how much more relaxed students are about the process of making bread - I just write the ingredients on the board, and the students go ahead and make their dough. They're no longer beginners.

Monday 28th November.
I was told the finalists for the Taste of Christmas event would be informed by noon today - so I was keeping an eye on my inbox up until about 3 - by which time I'd given up.

However, when I checked about half an hour ago - I was given this message:

Dear Baker

Congratulations! You have been selected as one of the shortlisted entrants into the Taste of Christmas Best Cake in Show Competition!

So I need to get myself and my entry to ExCel, London, by 12 noon on Sunday. My daughter will accompany me (I get two free tickets) so I'll stay overnight with her in Basingstoke and travel up in the morning.
I was going to start my preparations tonight by soaking the apricots in Benedictine - but there's not enough left in the bottle. I'll have to get some more tomorrow. I'll also pick up some good quality sultanas, mixed peel and also some angelica. One thing I won't do this time is include any Benedictine in the liquid for the loaf - and I'll make sure I fold the fruit in very carefully!

Sunday 27th November.

I've been asked to contribute a Christmas recipe to this 'Taste of Christmas, Best in Show' event, judged by Eric Lanlard. I only noticed this evening that the competition closed at midnight tonight - so I've just sent my entry off.

It won't surprise anyone that I've gone for my Christmas loaf:

I'm not sure I did the loaf justice - you've only got 50 words to describe it, and I was a bit rushed. Still, we'll see.

It'll certainly disrupt my plans for next weekend if I make the shortlist! :)

But I'm not holding my breath!

Saturday 26th November.
Made pizzas for dinner - a potato pizza for my wife, and a vegan one for myself.

Friday 25th November.
Finally made the yum yums this morning in my Family Learning group (Barry was very pleased!), along with cheese and tomato pizzas.

Thursday 24th November.
Made a variety of breads today: In the first session at the care home we made two rosemary focaccias, a couple of pizzas and a ciabatta:


...and after. I'm always surprised by how much a ciabatta rises
Whenever I make a ciabatta I wonder why I don't make them more often. It really is an easy bread to make.

In the afternoon we made the now obligatory chocolate cake and a variation on a theme by Matt:

Curried grape and glace cherry bread - plus a vegan chocolate cake. (I  know which I'd rather have!)
 - plus a chocolate schiacciata con l'uva. (No pic I'm afraid.) 

Tuesday 22nd November.To Williton this afternoon for the second session of this 5-week course. Made a variety of focaccias, pain au chocolat and iced buns.

Saturday 19th November.
Lovely weather encouraged me to fire up the chiminea again - first time for a while. I have it down to a fine art, now - 4 pizzas within an hour and 20 minutes, start to finish. (Story and pics here.)

I really need to be more organised to utilise the heat after I've finished making pizzas. As it was I just cooked about five large potatoes in there for future use. Next time I'll make sufficient dough to follow up the pizzas with a focaccia or similar.

Friday 18th November.
Family Learning session - second week in. Loaves of bread and Pudsey bear bread:

Went everywhere for the Pudsey Bear cutter, finally found one in Lakeland

100s and 1000s, chocolate chips and - marshmallows. All we had to decorate Pudsey with

Made with a simple sweetened bread dough,

Thursday 17th November.
Spent the first session making different Pudsey Bear shapes practicing for Children in Need. Only three students in my second session - Eric made a vegan chocolate cake, guy made some currant buns and Matt - well, Matt made some interesting shapes

Here's Matt with his sweetened curry bread cutting out shapes and sandwiching grapes in between!
Once again, that's Mel applying the finishing touches to the cake
Spent Thursday evening perfecting the Pudsey Bear recipe - and failing to send the details off in time
! :(

Wednesday 16th November.
One-off Family Learning breadmaking session at Hamp Recreation Centre (instead of Hamp Primary School - they didn't have a classroom big enough for the 36 participants!) this afternoon. 17 families with 19 children - and each child made a batch of fancy dinner rolls. 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable session. At the start I asked everyone who thought breadmaking was easy - or difficult?
A couple of families - whose mothers both made bread - said they thought it was easy. The rest were either unsure or thought it was difficult.

After each family (with the children doing most of the work) had made a batch of rolls - and fancy shapes, I asked the question again, "Who thinks breadmaking is easy?" and received a unanimous "Yes!" from the group.

Here's some pics of the results:

Tuesday 15th November
First session of the Williton Course this afternoon. Seven new students (should have had 9, but only had 7) who all made a soda bread (either plain or spicy fruit) and some fancy dinner rolls.

Monday 14th November.
Busy week ahead:
Coffee morning tomorrow - but have to leave early as I begin a 5-week 'Breadmaking made easy' course at Williton at 1.00pm - and it's about 15 miles away.
Wednesday morning my friend Paul is coming round to help me set up my new (2nd-hand) MacBook - which means I'll finally be able to watch iPlayer, YouTube, etc, which my current computer won't allow me to view!
Wednesday afternoon I have a one-off session of Family Learning at Hamp Primary School - breamaking with an emphasis on numeracy. I've just been told the session has been moved to the nearby Hamp Recreation Centre since the numbers are too great for the classroom. 
17 families have signed up - that's 34 participants! I will have two support workers for the session so it'll be do-able. I'll need to take my ovens to supplement the commercial oven they have at the centre.
Following this I have my annual review with my line manager!
In the evening I'm giving a talk about Atheism/Humanism to a group of Christians! The title of their monthly meetings is 'No holds barred', so it should be extremely interesting!
Then on Thursday and Friday I have my usual care home and primary school sessions.

Friday 11th November.
Began a new Family Learning class today - 2 mothers and 2 fathers, which is great! Each family made 2 soda breads - one plain and one spicy, fruit loaf.

One of the fathers had previously done the course with another of his children - when asked what breads we should make on the subsequent weeks of  the course, his response was emphatic, "Yum yums!"he said, and told the others just how tasty these were. So that's what we're doing next week, along with loaves of bread.

Thursday 10th November.
In the first session in my weekly care home, wishing to practice my new-found skills, we made - parathas! I took along some more curried lentil and potato for the filling and they turned out rather well. We used a stock cube instead of salt in the dough to give more flavour. And, as Emma (one of more support workers) said, a little curry powder in the dough would be good!

As I've said before, I think, Emma and I have worked together in my breadmaking sessions in various care homes over the past 18 years. She's only recently taken up breadmaking seriously - and last week, for her 4-year-olds birthday she made some smiley-faced pizzas and some crackers, which drew serious plaudits from her guests, I'm told!

These were done in the oven rather than a frying pan - and, as the sliced open one indicates, they could have been rolled out flatter and contained more filling. Having said that, I had a couple for lunch and they were very jolly tasty! 
In the afternoon session, once again I was prevailed upon to make chocolate cake - this time making 2 doz chocolate fairy cakes (vegan, of course!):

Wednesday 9th November.
Visited Occupy Bristol today. This was the day I'd been planning for for the past few days - and I had a ball, I have to say. The occupiers made me very welcome - and I left feeling as though I was leaving old friends. I shall have to go back, I think!

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