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, 13 April 2016


Fruity - and spicy!
We had some friends call round this afternoon, and I wanted to make them a loaf to take away with them.

This calls for soda bread, so I quickly knocked up a fruit soda bread with olive oil. The olive oil really softens and rounds the crust - which can often be quite hard on a soda bread.

250g self raising flour
2 dessertspoons sugar
1 dessertspoon mixed spice
150g sultanas
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
155g water
45g extra virgin olive oil


  1. Line a baking tray with some silicon paper and turn on the oven
  2. Into a bowl place the dry ingredients and mix to distribute the spices evenly.
  3. Add the water and pour in the olive oil.
  4. Mix quickly into a dough (I managed in in 90 seconds today)
  5. Tip out onto the worktop, without adding flour  - instead, drizzle with olive oil and knead for several moments.
  6. Then firmly mould it into a round flat loaf, about 3cm thick and place it on your prepared baking sheet. (With practice you can get the mixing and shaping done in less than two minutes.) To allow the heat of the oven to reach the centre of the dough more easily, cut a deep cross into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
  7. Bake in the centre of the oven at 220C (or 200C for a fan oven) for 25-30 minutes.

The loaf is ready when it has a good colour underneath and a skewer comes out clean. You may need to put it back in, upside down, for a few more minutes. Place to cool on a wire rack and – for a softer crust – wrap the bread in a tea cloth.

This loaf took 32 minutes from thinking about it - to admiring it!


  1. Hi Paul. Unless I've missed it somewhere you don't say what temperature the oven should be. I've gone for around 180C because that's about as high as my ancient cooker will go.

    On a semi-related point I note you specify SR flour rather than plain plus bicarbonate of soda. What's the difference, if any, between these two?

  2. Sorry, Mike, you're quite right, I missed that out - I'll correct it in a mo.

    Should be 220C, or 200C in a fan oven - but, of course, if you can only get to 180, you have to go with that. I suspect many older ovens don't get as high as the instruments say. Have you checked out my online breadmaking course which I've just begun? The first recipe I've posted is all about soda bread - which you're on top of anyway. Next up I've planned pizzas and bread rolls.

    I'd be interested to hear what you think.


    Ps. I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier - I haven't clicked on the comment section for a while.

  3. Hi Paul.

    I don't know if it was the lower temperature or some other problem but my loaf didn't rise anywhere near as well as 'plain' soda loaves I've made before. It still tasted OK though.

    I'll have a look at the course a little later. Despite the number of loaves I've made over the last two years or so I could do with doing a course. I suspect actually having someone beside me telling me where I'm going wrong would be a lot more use than online for me though.

  4. Hi Mike
    The temperature shouldn't affect the rising, I wouldn't have thought. The first thing I'd look at is how soft your dough is. It should be soft and squeezable - tacky is good.
    If you just need a little flour to enable you to handle it easily, you know your dough is as soft as you can get it.
    The softer the dough, the more the CO2 can push out bigger holes.
    Cheers, Paul

    1. Oops! Mike, I didn't answer your earlier query about self raising flour - sorry!
      I use s/r flour simply because the chemical agents are already in the flour. If you were to use plain flour - or bread flour, which I often do if I'm making a wholemeal loaf - you would need to add the chemicals:
      Either in the form of baking powder (1 teaspoon to 100g of flour); or separately - bicarb of soda (alkali) and, say, cream of tartar (acid).
      So it's a bit of a faff - much easier to use s/r flour! :)
      Cheers, Paul