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.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Saturday 1st Feb 2014
I made another loaf today, using a tin that I thought was closer to the one that LME was using. It's a more modern shape, longer and lower:

Put to prove

After an hour in the oven with a jug of hot water from the tap

Bit lop-sided - definitely home-made! In the absence of a cooling rack place the loaf across the tin to cool 
Saturday 25th Jan 2014
Several days ago, the Leicestershire Mumsnet Editor (LME) asked me to join her in a project to get more Mumsnet posters making bread. 

Here's my version. (The full story starts at the bottom of this post.)

The Mumsnet loaf!

400g strong wholemeal flour
100g strong white flour
2/3 teaspoon salt
2gms dried yeast (equals a teaspoon of fresh)
350g water
35g olive oil (optional)

Measure the dry ingredients in a food storer with a snap-on lid (otherwise use a mixing bowl and place it in a plastic bag to keep the air out)
Dissolve the yeast in a little of the water, then add all the liquid plus the olive oil if using
Stir together with a table knife until it looks like this:
Put the lid on and leave it on your worktop until you're ready to shape and put to prove. Leave overnight - or for about 8 hours or more during the day
Here's what was waiting for me when I came down in the morning - always good to see the dough has risen.

After 11 hours proving - 2gms of yeast and 500g flour
To shape the loaf I tipped the dough out on the workbench, gave the food storer a light sprinkling of flour and scraped it [pretty] clean. I gave the dough a few stretches and folds 
Baker's fold: grasp the dough on opposite sides, stretch out a few inches...

…and fold back into the centre. Repeat with each opposite corner several times
 - kneaded it for a few seconds, shaped it into a loaf and dropped it into the loaf tin:

I haven't used this tin - old when my dad took over the bakery in 1948 - for quite a few years, so I oiled it carefully and placed a strip of baking parchment along the bottom of the tin. If it does stick, I can slide a knife between the side of the loaf and the tin and it'll come loose.

I mixed the dough last night about 12.20am - and put it to prove around 11.20am, so it's had 11 hours proving.

It's now on my worktop, in an oiled plastic bag, and I took a pic of it in the tin. When it rises later on, I'll be able to compare the two to see how much it has risen.

Later that day:
The loaf has risen well:

It's now about 2cm above the tin - ready to bake
went in the oven 3 hours and fifteen minutes after shaping and putting to prove - temperature 215C.

Ten minutes later I turned the loaf around to give it an even bake. 12 minutes after that I took the loaf out of the tin and decided that the underneath was a little underbaked. So I carefully put it upside down - in the tin which will hold it upright - and gave it 4-5 more minutes.

Here's the finished loaf, which stands about 12cm high:

The Mumsnet loaf
And here's a pic of the crumb:

Friday 24th Jan 2014
(LME)  reports:

The first loaf is made! It has a very nice texture and mostly, a nice taste (more details following). It is not very much risen though - is only about 4cm high. Is this what you mean by wholemeal being 'dense'? Would it rise more with the addition of white bread flour? Or do I need it to be in a warmer place (I could leave it in our airing cupboard all day, perhaps)? Should I add more yeast? Would kneading it at some point help it rise more?

My main issue, really, though, is with a slightly 'fermented' taste it has. It's not awful - in fact, it's the same taste as my breadmaker used to produce. But I don't like it. What shall I do?

I went back and said this:

"As I expected, a partial success! 

4cm is not very high - even for a loaf made with all wholemeal - so it would probably have continued rising after taking it out of the fridge.

What happens with a loaf that hasn't risen properly is that it is very dense inside - so the heat can't penetrate, as it can with a better risen loaf. So the inside isn't as cooked as well as it could be - which may account for the slightly 'fermented' taste.

I'm going to make your loaf - I'll make it with the same amount of yeast as you did, but I won't put it in the fridge to retard it. Since I'll be around all day, I'll be able to keep an eye on it.

If you could make your loaf with twice as much yeast - and put it in the fridge as before - we'll see if that works. But it does need to roughly double in size - so if it hasn't risen properly, just give it more time out of the fridge.

I would also use 20% white flour - so 400g wholemeal and 100g white - which is what I shall make as well.

Thursday 23rd Jan 2014
The Leicestershire Mumsnet Editor (LME) has asked me to join her in a project to get more Mumsnet posters making bread - mainly in Leicestershire, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind if others joined in.

I was happy to help because it coincides with my stated aim of getting everyone to make their own bread! :)

Here's the thread she has started, outlining the method she's chosen, with a bit of input from me. It's a twist on my overnight, no-knead bread, with the bulk of the final proving taking place in the fridge.

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