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, 9 July 2013


Monday 8th July 2013
Made another batch of sourdough tonight - this didn't work so well!

Here's the story as I posted on The Fresh Loaf, looking for advice:

"I've made several loaves from my 2 month old starter, and followed the same procedure this time:
Evening of Saturday 6th July - Refreshed the starter (1:1) 

Sunday afternoon - Sponge: 300g starter, 300g wholemeal flour, 300g water 

(I did intend to bake on Sunday evening - but events conspired against me!)

Sunday evening I added the rest of the flour - 250g wholemeal, 9g salt, 50g olive oil

Monday - shaping the dough:
On opening up the food-storer in which I'd kept the dough, I was confronted with a sticky mess - totally unlike any sourdough I'd worked with in the past. There was no cohesion to it - trying to stretch it, it just broke. There was no way to knead it at this stage - even using oil to stop it sticking.

So I added more flour to get a workable dough. In the end I added a further 150g, which threw my planned 65% hydration right out of the window. It ended up more like 53% - and it was still a very soft dough.

I put it to prove (shaped into rolls) around 1.00pm - and checked it every hour for the next nine hours. There was not a great deal of movement - some, but not a lot. Eventually, at 10pm I switched the oven on and began giving the bread (covered with a stainless steel roasting tray) occasional short bursts of heat over the next 45-60 minutes. By this time the rolls had at least joined together, so there was something happening - I put the bread in the oven hoping for some oven spring, but not really expecting any - and I wasn't disappointed!

The rolls turned out a lot smaller than I'm used to - the crumb is very tight, with the occasional large(er) hole. I've just had a taste, and the sourness is very pronounced, in contrast to previous loaves from this starter, the sourdough flavour of which was very mild.

Some pics:
Shaped and put to prove
After several hours
After nine hours
The crumb
In conclusion, they're OK - not the best sourdough I've ever made (probably the worst!) - but they're edible enough. And certainly better than any bread I can find in the supermarket. 

I just don't want to make them again! :(
As luck would have it, I'm off to a coffee morning with a sourdough-making friend of mine - so I'll inflict a taste of these rolls on the gathering and wait for the feedback!
There is a lot of info on The Fresh Loaf thread for me to read through, but one opinion is that it might be better to begin with a new starter. I'll see what my mate says - I can always get some starter from him, since it was me who started him off. In fact, 
I gave him his starter 12 months or so ago!

Wednesday 29th May 2013
My daughter is off home tomorrow - and I want her to take a loaf with her, so I needed to make another loaf. Since she'll be going in the morning, I need to make the loaf today.

10.30am - refreshed starter with 100g each white flour and water

1.30pm - sponge, 300g starter + 300g wholemeal flour and 300g water.
(My usual bread is made up of 550g wholemeal and 150g white - so adding 300g of starter means that all the white flour has been added and I only need to add more wholemeal.)

7.30pm - the sponge is very active and I added the remaining 250g of wholemeal, plus 8g of salt, 50g of toasted sesame and sunflower seeds.

9.30pm - the dough has risen sufficiently, I think:

And 40 minutes later the bread is done:

Tried to make the cuts a little deeper - and I still don't think I left it to prove long enough. 
The crumb was very similar to the first loaf I made, below, and the bread was very tasty. So much so that my 11 year old granddaughter chose to have this for her lunch (today, Friday) rather than the commercial white sliced she usually opted for. Result!

Still don't think I've got the loaf exactly as I want it, for it does feel a little heavy - but, practice makes perfect and all that!

Monday 27th May 2013

The finished loaf and the crumb - with a background of our (my 3 grandchildren and I) sourdough starter experiment
One of the reasons I haven't persevered with sourdough in the past is that, using a flavoursome wholemeal (Doves Organic), I haven't had the increase in flavour that comes with making sourdough using white flour. However, I thought I'd have another go, now that I'm more confident with this new starter of mine.

I need some bread for lunch tomorrow - so, later than I wished, at 9.30 tonight, I refreshed the starter with 100g each white flour and water, and left it out on the worktop.

My sourdough-loving friend, Dennis, recommends Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's method for making sourdough - and I also consulted Andrew Whitley ('Bread Matters'), and Dan Lepard (The Hand-made Loaf) on the subject.

All agreed on refreshing the starter, and on making a 'sponge' (sort of a half-way house between the starter and the dough) the day before baking the loaf. However, I decided to do my own thing after discarding HFW's method for producing a loaf with a hydration of 56% (when I aim for about 70%) and also AW's and DL's instructions for being too unbelievably complex!

I'm looking to make a loaf using 700g of flour - with 70% hydration, that requires 490g water. Since the above bakers all include all the remaining liquid in their sponges, I thought I'd follow suit - except that I decided to hold back 40g of water since I wasn't sure just exactly how wet my sourdough would be.

Sponge ingredients:

200g starter (100g white flour and 100g water)
300g flour (50g white and 250g wholemeal)
350g water

This was mixed in my food storer and left, with a lid on, on the worktop. Time 0.40am on Tuesday.

At half past nine in the morning, with two willing grandchildren to help me, I added the remaining 300g of flour and mixed into a dough. I only added a teaspoon - 5g - of water just to bring the crumbs of flour together in the bowl. 

The consistency of the dough was pretty much just as I wanted - soft and squishy, but not too sticky. We all had a good knead - out of pleasure as much as anything, then I shaped the dough into a boule, covered it and left it. I was hoping to have bread for lunch, but, as I've just realised, I'm fasting today, I'm not too bothered for myself. However, my daughter would appreciate some for her lunch!

Final calculation:

700g flour to 455g water = 65% hydration.

My granddaughter took loads of pics, so I'll post them when I get a chance. 

Full recipe:
Sponge ingredients:
200g starter (100g flour and 100g water)
300g flour (50g white and 250g wholemeal)
350g water

To which was added:

300g wholemeal
8g salt
5g water

Unfortunately, when my grandchildren  were making their lunch, the rising loaf took a knock and I decided to abort that attempt. Since I had to go out, I simply put the dough back into the food storer to keep until I could get around to it.

In the evening, after dinner, I shaped the loaf again, and placed it in a large, round stainless steel dish. 

I'd noticed on the earlier attempt that the loaf was spreading out a fair way, so I thought this would keep it under control.

 2 hours later, when I thought it was ready, I slashed the loaf and put it in the oven - for 45 minutes at 220C.

Couldn't decide which  
...was the best photo... I included all three!
The loaf feels a little heavy - and the crumb has a very close texture, so I'm thinking I could have left it to prove for another half hour or so. However, I'm not a fan of large holes in my bread, so I'm very happy with this.
Despite the fact that I'm fasting, I did eat that slice of bread - 46g and 100 calories. I'm delighted to report that, although there is very little sourdough smell to the loaf, the flavour is distinctly - pleasingly - sour!

I think I may - finally - have cracked it!


  1. In my place this food name is Donat.
    So Nice. :)

    Makanan Sehat Teknologi Dunia

  2. I like your article .....can i post on my blog? thanks

  3. Hi aksi
    I don't mind if you post this - when you do, can you let me have a link please.

  4. Hi paul youd, I so like your article, I hope your pasticipation from you

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