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, 5 December 2012


Began a new project at half term, Autumn 2012, out at Norton Manor Camp, just outside of Taunton, home to 40 Commando Marines who are currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Basically, I've volunteered to spend a couple of sessions a week out there, teaching as many families as I can how to make bread, while their husbands and partners are away.

Wednesday 5th December
Made pane casereccio (PCs, rolled, stuffed pizza) with 3 families - 4 youngsters - this evening. We managed to get all 5 baked - this oven isn't too bad!

4 of the PCs were stuffed with chopped mushroom and a Linda McCartney sausage also chopped, then sprinkled with grated Cheddar. The other was made with vegan ingredients, since one of the children is allergic to dairy. This was spread with Pateole mushroom spread, covered with vegan pesto, with chunks of vegan sausage and mushroom.

Tuesday 4th December
5 youngsters made farthing buns, and their 3 mothers made what was supposed to be focaccia, but wasn't, since I didn't remember to bring any olive oil! I did, however, bring a jar of olives, so the bread was a flattish disc, with olives pressed into the top. The mothers took them home to bake, and I asked them to add olive oil at home. We'll find out next week how this worked out. 

Although I did get a text from Carla, who said, "Wow the focaccia bread was amazing it's almost all finished. Thank you soooo much!"

The farthing buns were baked in the session and the kids were soon tucking in with relish!

(We've decided to use the oven in the centre, despite warnings it was too slow. However, we decided to use it on maximum and it worked fine.)

Wednesday 28th November
Expanding on last week's bread, we made the fruit dough - then turned it into Chelsea buns, which the mothers took home with them to bake.

Wednesday 21st November
But the Family Centre session went ahead, albeit with just two families.

The unbaked rolls that went home with the mothers last week were pronounced a success! We'll be doing more of that in future! 

Today the families went home with a batch of fruit buns each.

Tuesday 20th November
After school session cancelled because of the floods here in Taunton.

Wednesday 14th November
Success! Finally managed to work with some pre-school families - 5 in all, with 8 children all playing with some bread dough and then making some shapes.

A combination of factors  - risk assessment issues - time restraints, etc - unreliable oven - decided us on a different course of action from my usual sessions. Instead we sent the families home with their bread (and recipes) so they could bake it in their own ovens in their own kitchens.

We'll found out on Wednesday how successful this has been.

Tuesday 13th November
Once again, no-one attended the morning session, so my volunteer helper and I just swapped stories over a coffee, just as we did last week. Nikki, my welfare contact has suggested I attend a weekly pre-school family session tomorrow to drum up some support.

The afternoon session was again well-attended, making chocolate and banana bread. No photo's since I forgot my iPhone

Tuesday 6th November 
No-one came to the first session of the pre-school children's session - but the afternoon session with the after-school children was a great success with 7 children attending.

We made cheese and tomato pizza and vegan chocolate cake:

We made  Tuesday 30th October
I began yesterday, first day of half-term, with families with school-age children; today was for the under-fives; and tomorrow is for the school kids again.

Next week we've agreed I'll have the under-5s in the morning and the school kids after school.

We've started slowly, with two families in each session (these things always take time to build up). However, they all had a great time and have promised to go out and spread the word.

I've had brilliant co-operation from the Marines, from Welfare, and from the cooks and chefs in the galley (we're occupying a corner of what most people would call the restaurant) - plus I have plenty of help from volunteers!

The set-up is quite different to any I've experienced before, in that I don't have any access to the ovens - or even the kitchen! So, when I have some bread which needs baking, I present myself at the kitchen door and hope that one of the chefs comes over and takes the bread away. Then I come back later and check if the bread is ready. For someone who is used to instant access to the ovens I'm using, this is a little disconcerting. However, I'm sure I'll get used to it.

We made soda bread on Monday, and my usual method is to stick it straight into the oven as soon as it is shaped. On this occasion I waited until everyone had finished their loaves then took the tray to the kitchen for baking. I'm afraid they didn't rise too well. They were just about OK, and, at least, the students (and volunteers) took the recipes home to have a go in their own ovens.

We also made fancy dinner rolls and shapes - here's a few of the results:

Some of the volunteers also made bread, here's a bull's head by Adam 

On Tuesday, we made more fancy dinner rolls - this time with the younger children - and jam doughnuts. I did my usual trick of forgetting half the ingredients, but the chef, Mark, came to my rescue with jam and sugar.

Here's some pics of the results:

A busy table. We used beakers to cut out the circles

Two circles of dough for each doughnut - 1/2 a teaspoonful of jam in the middle of one of the circles then another circle is placed on top as Katie is doing here. Press with a finger all round, then the two edges are squidged together.
I don't always remember to take pics of the breads my students make, but I had to take this one:

Monkey - by Bazz!
The third session this week saw 6 children making jam doughnuts and petit pain au chocolat:

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