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.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


[Scroll down to Sunday 5th May for the first day's happenings, followed by what happened on the following Sunday.]

I'm running a 12-hour course over the first two weekends in May, at a village hall in the village of Hornblotton, near Yeovil, Somerset.

In this post I shall detail all the planning involved, plus the story of how the two sessions went, along with photo's both from me and from my students.

Here's the letter that has gone out to the students to set the scene:

10th April 2013

Breadmaking made easy workshop, 10.00am - 4.00pm
5th and 12th May at Hornblotton Village Hall

Dear Student,

This letter sets out what I intend will happen on the first day and includes a list of items which you will need in the session. If you are new to breadmaking, let me reassure you that it is much easier than you may have been led to believe. It is indeed, ‘easy peasy’! Oh, and it’s also a lot of fun, as you’ll find out!

The session will begin in a relaxed fashion – the first thing you need to do is to find somewhere at the side of the hall to park all your stuff, get yourself a drink and a chair to sit on round the tables in the middle. There is some necessary administration to complete, which we will go through together. If you need any help with the forms I will be there to give you a hand, so there’s no need to worry. Bring a pen if you can remember, although I will have a couple to spare.

Before we start breadmaking I’d like to spend some time finding out what you expect to get out of the day’s session so that I can hope to meet all your requirements.

Lunch. We’ll be eating around 12.30-1.00, and everyone will make their own. All you need to bring is a little cheese – say 50g – and a tomato or a mushroom.

I’m still working on the programme, but just to say that during the 2 days we’ll be making many of these breads:

Soda breads
Fancy dinner rolls and freeform loaves
Small filled savoury breads – from sizzlers through stuffed parathas to pierogis and baozi (Chinese buns)
Larger filled savoury breads – from pasties to calzones to pane casereccio
Hot cross buns, through Chelseas to apfel kuchen (German apple cake) or schiacciata con l’uva
Flatbreads – from naan through pitta to trenchers and focaccia to pizzas
Sweetened breads – from iced buns through Devonshire splits to pain au chocolat and jam doughnuts
No-knead overnight bread
Yeast-risen batters – pikelets and socca

If you don’t see the bread you’ve always wanted to make on this list, get in touch and we’ll see how we could fit it in to the programme.     

I have a blog, which I call “No bread is an island”, in which I write about – among other things – my teaching practice. On here I’ve started a post, “Hornblotton breadmaking”, which will include everything about the course, including all my planning:

Please have a look at this, if you can – plus, check out all the recipes on there, including those for the breads I’ve already mentioned.

I have several aims for this course, one of which is that everyone should enjoy themselves! Another is that everyone will make good bread. At any time during the day the kettle can go on for a mug of tea or coffee. Cost 20p.

I'm sorry if this all sounds too daunting. Please let me assure you that it will all fall into place quite easily. If you have any suggestions, (or reservations) at all, please don't hesitate to ring me, I'm always happy to talk about bread.

Finally, can I draw your attention to the word ‘Companion’? The ‘com’ part means together – as in community – and the ‘pan’ part of the word means bread. So ‘Companions’ are people who make bread together! Which is what we shall be doing over these two Sundays!

Best regards,

Course Tutor

Ps. If anyone would like to get there a few minutes early to help me set up, I would appreciate that!

You will need to bring:
Several tea towels, both to cover your dough whilst it's proving and to wrap any warm bread in to take home.
Something to carry away the finished products (a large basket or cardboard box lined with tea towels would be ideal)
Mug for hot drinks

You can also bring the following items – but they’re not essential:
Set of measuring spoons
Any favourite cooking utensil – sharp knife/scissors are always useful
Your favourite baking tray
Your favourite weighscales

[In the original letter I did, of course, include my contact details. For obvious reasons I've removed them from this copy.]

Wednesday 1st May

My planning so far - this isn't set in stone, but it's roughly what I intend to do

Lesson plan 5/5/13

Get there by 9.30 (make sure Alison knows I want to start setting up then)

Set up the hall with tables, kettle(s) on, arrange ovens, etc.


0000 - Fire drill, toilets, introductions/register/name labels – icebreaker – expectations – what’s going to happen today (soda breadsizzlers/rolls - high hydration dough for pizza and focaccia - Chelsea buns/Swedish tea ring) oven work - risk assessment - photo permission form. My faults as a tutor.

0030 – Soda bread demo times 2 – both plain and spicy fruit. Have baking paper/trays to hand

0045 – Students make their own plain soda bread – which goes straight into the oven

0110 – Yeast-risen dough demo (need lukewarm water) (check ovens)
0120 – Students follow suit
0140 – Demonstrate 2 sizzlers and 3 rolls – students make their own lunch
0200 – Put the dough to prove
0205 – Make a high hydration dough which will make a pizza and a focaccia. 2 mugs flour to 1 mug water – put to one side. (Revisit every 10-20 minutes)
(0230) – Start baking everyone’s lunch.
Make fruit dough – 2 mugs flour, 2 tspoons mixed spice, 2 dsps sugar 1 mug dried fruit
0300 – Lunch – but checking ovens/dough
0330 – Shape Chelsea buns and Swedish tea ring - put to prove
0400 – Divide dough in two pieces, one slightly larger (focaccia) than the other (pizza)
0425 – Roll out dough for pizza, cover with tomato puree and grated cheese
0450 – Roll out focaccia – shape and put to prove
0505 - Demonstration of my overnight, no-knead bread, that I’d made last night – folding and shaping it

Rest of the session, while the bread is finishing baking:

Discussion, including: breadmaking rules - what makes a good baker - how to improve - good breadmaking habits (practice, practice, practice) - is there anything that would stop you making bread at home?

Homework – I’d like you to think of someone, who doesn’t know how to make bread, who you could teach between now and next Sunday

Breads for next week


Sunday 5th May

Well, that was the planning  - and we pretty well stuck to it!

In the event, 11 out of the 12 turned up - one had some unavoidable family commitments. And next week we'll be missing Sue, who would rather go to New Zealand to visit her family than enjoy a second day's breadmaking!

The day got off to a splendid start - I was met at the front of the village hall by Jenny and her husband (Colin?), who helped set up the hall with tables, etc.

Very shortly after I arrived, just before 9.30, the students started arriving. I had loads of offers of help, so setting up was a doddle.

There were various levels of breadmaking experience within the group - most of the students had had a go at it, with the main requirement being to achieve a level of consistency.

Jim, Denise, Viv, Amanda, Michelle

Amanda, Viv, Julia, Sophia,Sue, Lavinia, Roger

...and Simon, on the end

Simon, eating a serious Chelsea bun!

Chelsea buns

Chelseas, fruit soda bread and several fancy dinner rolls

Two Swedish tea rings - to be dredged with icing sugar on arrival home

[It was decided to make sourdough on the second session. Here's the story of the starter - and the loaf, I made this week.]

Sunday, 12th May
Another wonderful day! Once again the students arrived early and I had many helping hands unloading my 5 ovens and all the equipment - bowls, jugs, etc.

0000 - Register/name labels - what’s going to happen today: 

0015 – Sourdough demo –

0030 – Students make their own sourdough, shape it and put to prove – which goes straight into the oven

0100 – Yeast-risen dough demo (need lukewarm water) (check ovens) – different way of doing things!

0110 – Students follow suit - make their own lunch. Lavinia makes a socca pancake

0130 – Making a sweet dough for PPs/JDs (demonstrate jam tarts?) Put the dough to prove
0200 – Put the potatoes on to cook
0225 – Peirogi/pirotzkhi/parathas dough
(0230) – Start baking everyone’s lunch.
0300 – Lunch – but checking ovens/dough
0330 – Spelt bread – then,
0400 – Ciabatta
0425 – Bake the sourdough
0450 – Demonstration assembling a ‘no-knead, overnight’ bread
Homework – I’d like you to think of someone, who doesn’t know how to make bread, that you could teach between now and next Sunday
Final questions
Summary - closure

We began, as planned, with sourdough. 6 of the students had brought in their own starters, so I initially proposed that they should make a loaf using these - and the students who hadn't managed to make their own should use my starter.

In the event, the students with starters also wanted to make one using mine - and the students who had no starters were given some by the other students. So everyone made two sourdough loaves. Brilliant!

I was so impressed by the starters that students had made, I took a pic of them all - I'll try and remember whose was which:





These were put to one side to rise, while we got on with the rest of  the programme.

We made the pane casereccio, which we were to have for lunch. I'd asked the students to bring some continental sausage and cheese - but they also brought tomatoes, mushrooms, harissa paste, pesto and smoked paprika. These were shared quite willingly between the students, there was a lovely atmosphere of co-operation and friendliness in the room!

I took advantage of Viv's harissa paste to accompany my polony and mushroom filling.

Once this was made and put to prove by the ovens, we went on to the sweet dough and made pain au chocolat and jam doughnuts. 

I'm not sure of the running order any more, but at some time the lunch was baked and eaten, potatoes were peeled and boiled and mixed with grated cheese and curry powder - the filling for the parathas and pierogis. The parathas were fried and the pierogis - mostly - boiled.

Time precluded making the spelt bread, but we managed to make some socca pancakes - Lavinia has a problem with gluten, so making these gram flour wraps came in handy for her. Several other students had a go at making these, and everyone had a taste.

Lastly we had a bit of fun with the ciabatta. My version of this bread has an increased liquid content - 25% extra - which makes a semi-batter and is beaten entirely in the bowl. It's not easy to get this right, first time up, and a couple of the students got very stuck up indeed!

Eventually, all came right and they all turned out some lovely loaves.

Late on in the proceedings I realised I hadn't taken any pics - so I went round taking random photo's of anything of interest.

Denise with her basket of bread
2 sourdough loaves, pain au chocolat, pierogis
Pierogis and parathas - bottom; jam doughnuts and pain au chocolat, plus a sourdough loaf. I'm fairly sure these are Jim's
Pierogis and parathas - top; jam doughnuts and pain au chocolat
Amanda keeping a close eye on her ciabatta dough
Simon's sourdough and pierogis (baked straight in  the oven and not poached)
Pierogis, jam doughnuts and pain au chocolat

Two sourdough loaves, parathas and pierogis
Everyone agreed they'd had a great time - and, more importantly, that they would continue making bread, now they had started.

There were two mentions of further breadmaking sessions arising from this. Jim has just asked me for some Saturday dates in July/August - he's hoping I'll run a workshop in his local village hall.

Amanda and Viv also mentioned the possibility of another workshop at sometime.

Just received this photo from Roger, with the following comment:

"Excellent course Paul. Many thanks again. Whoever would have thought I would be able to make all of this! Best wishes," Roger

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