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, 25 May 2013


It began with a call from my Community Co-ordinator, Ruth, "Would you like to run a one-off Family Learning session at Priorswood Primary School in Taunton?"

Well, of course I said yes! Family Learning sessions are absolutely my favourite!

The day before the class, I got a phone call from Ruth telling me that the head teacher at the school had recruited 20 families - and to make sure I had enough ingredients and bring all my ovens! 

The usual maximum for this sort of session - where we make some bread rolls in various shapes - is about a dozen, and that's pushing it a bit. So to say I was somewhat taken aback would be a bit of an under-statement!

In the event, 21 families turned up! This is by far my largest session - I think I've had 14 in the past, but 21 - that's a challenge.

I lined my 5 ovens up at the front of the class, against the wall, so they were out of the way and arranged the tables in a horseshoe arrangement, with the youngsters sitting at the tables and their parents seated behind. I have to tell you it was a bit of a squash in there! Another difficulty was that the school oven was 30 metres away down the corridor!

However, with Ruth as my main (only) support, we managed to ensure that everyone was able to make a decent bread dough which they divided into 6 pieces to make their shapes. 

One of the trickiest considerations is making sure that everyone's bread comes back to them - so I give them all a number to make out of dough and stick on top of one of the rolls. 

[This doesn't always work, as on Wednesday we had two number 12s - turned out that one should have been number 21! :)]

One of the things that determines whether these sessions go well or not is the reaction of the school staff. I have to say that everyone was brilliant - nothing was too much trouble for anyone - secretary, caretakers, teachers, TAs, etc! Even the head teacher came in at one point and asked how she could help! Makes my life a lot easier, I can tell you!

I had a lovely surprise when I was setting up the room. A young man who I found out later was the teacher whose room we were using, said, "Where do you want these tables, Paul?" Now we hadn't, at this stage, found out who was who, and I thought for a second, 'How does he know my name?'  He turned out to be a youngster I'd last seen about 15 years ago - who was in the same year as my daughter at school! He'd turned into an excellent young man who was another who couldn't do enough for us!

Although the session could be considered a success - in that I was able to demonstrate to everyone's satisfaction that making bread is an easy, everyday activity, which was my main aim - there were far too many students for me to give each of them the attention they deserved.

Everything was rushed - which isn't conducive to good learning. Because all the bread couldn't be baked at the same time, a lot of the batches were ready whilst others were waiting to go into the oven - so students were collecting their bread and wandering off without me knowing. Because of this I was unable to wrap up the session appropriately - there was no summary of the session from me, for example. So that was a bit unsatisfactory.

But, at the end of the day, everyone went home with some tasty bread rolls - and there are 42 people who now know that making bread is not the scary thing that many people perceive it to be. So I'm not too unhappy!

No pics, I'm afraid - just not enough time!

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