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, 23 April 2013


This is a cheap dish - with very little finesse. But it is sustaining and filling, and is very comforting on a cold day! Serve with garden peas.

Filling ingredients:
1 large onion chopped 
2 large potatoes, diced small
200g red lentils
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons stock powder
Black pepper

Cook the onion/potatoes and lentils separately. Place each in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil/simmer for ten minutes each - or until soft. Combine the two and add, and adjust, flavourings. Leave to simmer gently while you shape the pie crust - but stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

While the filling ingredients are cooking, prepare the crust.

Bread dough 
200g strong white bread flour 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon curry powder 
10g fresh yeast or 5g dried yeast 
125g lukewarm water

1. Measure the water and stir in the yeast until it is dissolved. Place the flour, stock cube and curry powder into a mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast liquid.

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, don't knock the dough back, just divide into 2/3rds and 1/3rd.  Roll out the larger piece of dough about 4cm larger than your  pie dish and place it over the dish, carefully pushing into the sides all round. Roll out the smaller piece to the size of the dish, and place on a floured piece of baking parchment. 

6. Cover both with a tea towel and leave to prove on your worktop until the dough is risen and puffy, then fill the pie dish with the lentil and potato filling (using a slotted spoon - you don't want too much liquid). Using the baking parchment, upturn the other piece of dough over the pie dish and filling and trim the edges.

7. Leave a few minutes for the dough to recover, then bake at 220C for about 20 minutes, turning the pie if necessary to ensure an even bake.

I like this with a little spice added - 1 teaspoon curry powder (or however much you would usually use. I use 2 heaped teaspoons) stirred into the filling after combining the potatoes and lentils. 

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