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.

Friday, 12 July 2013


...starts, ironically, with a cake.

Staying over at my daughter's in Basingstoke last Monday night, I fancied a bit of cake. Normally, I'd make a 'cake in a mug' in a microwave, but my daughter doesn't have such a thing. So, I made this vegan chocolate cake. My daughter also doesn't have a whisk, which I think is essential for mixing the ingredients properly - hence the lumps of flour in the pic.

Nevertheless, it went down well with everyone and was tasty enough. Every oven, in my experience, stamps its own character on cakes and bread, and this one gave the cake a firm crust! I wasn't at all keen on this - for a start it made it very difficult to cut - but my son-in-law especially loved the crust. 

I was in Basingstoke specifically to make some bread with my daughter's year group at St Marks PS. So the following morning, Tuesday, that's just what we did, creating a new personal best as we did so. In the space of 4 hours I taught 82 children how to make bread - last year it was 79 in exactly the same time - between 08.50 and 12.50.

No breadmaking on Wednesday, but on the Thursday I paid my usual visit to Longrun Care Home, Taunton, where we made petit pain au chocolat with the residents - and the obligatory curried snake bread, courtesy of Matt.

Matt's 'snakes' are getting shorter and shorter!
Then on Friday morning, we made pane casereccio and jam doughnuts in my Family Learning session at Halcon PS (no pics, I'm afraid). 

Following this session, I stay behind and run a session with 4 or 5 Key Stage 2 youngsters (my FL session is with year one kids). On the Thursday, I'd received an email from my support worker in that session, Sue, telling me that the school garden had produced a load of shallots - and could I use them? I did have a shallot and rosemary focaccia recipe, as it happens, so that's what we did:

Dimpling the dough

Topped with fresh rosemary - also from the school garden - shallots (sauted for a few minutes), then drizzled with olive oil

Washing up never gets a mention on these pages - but, rest assured, the youngsters have to do their bit!

These will be shared out with all the class members at the end of the school day.

Straight after this session, I drove across Taunton to another school, Wellsprings PS, where I was to run yet another Family Learning session. 

10 families turned up for the session - and I have to say the youngsters produced some of the most creative shapes I've seen for a while.

That evening I made 2 spicy fruited naan breads, my breakfasts for the next two weeks.

The lovely weather we've been having recently tempted me to bring the chiminea into action, for the fifth time this year.

3 pizzas resulted - one potato, mushroom and bratwurst pizza and two vegan pizzas with mushroom and pesto toppings:

This for my wife, who doesn't like tomatoes in any form

Pesto, tomato puree and mushroom pate, mixed and spread over the base. This gives me the same flavour hit as I used to get with cheese and tomato

These two for me, since I'm vegan

Finally this week, on the Saturday I began a sourdough loaf by refreshing the starter. I did intend to bake it on the Sunday, but events conspired against me and I ended up baking it on the Monday. All I say for now is that I'm more than happy to share my successes with you - so I should share my failures as well! More in next week's thread.

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