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, 30 March 2014


OK, a star instead of a cross - just for fun!
Out for a game of bridge this evening – we’re all beginners, but it’s great fun – which meant I couldn’t have my usual pre-dinner pint and a glass of wine with the meal, since I would be driving.

During the evening I enthused about my latest favourite bread – Italian soda bread, which I had made over the weekend whilst staying with my daughter. I made it on the Sunday evening, and, since I was fasting after dinner, I was unable to taste it until Tuesday lunchtime. Made with simple ingredients – Sainsbury’s basic self-raising flour and Lidl’s EVOO, it was full of flavour.

On my return home tonight I thought I deserved a drink, so I poured half a pint of beer and the soda bread was still on my mind. I knew I could knock one up very quickly, so that’s what I did. I thought that if the white flour version was tasty, a soda bread made with wholemeal flour should be even tastier. Accordingly, I took out a bag of ‘Park Mill, Bateman’s Strong, Stoneground wholemeal flour’ I'd acquired, and made it with that + plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

It was in the oven within 5 minutes and took 20 minutes to bake. The result was a loaf weighing about 350g and would have cost around 28p if I’d have used own-brand wholemeal bread flour at £1.50/1.5kg or 34p if I’d used my usual bread flour, Doves Organic wholemeal. Whatever, this bread is cheap!

So what about the flavour? Well, I was expecting it to be much more flavoursome than the loaf made with white self-raising flour, and maybe it was. But, since I’d rather eat wholemeal for health reasons, this was well worth doing.

Here’s the recipe:
200g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
125g (or ml, they’re both the same) cold water
25g extra virgin olive oil.

Mix together into a soft squishy dough, knead (flatten and fold) several times, then flatten out into a circle about 2.5cm thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and cut a cross into the dough almost all the way through. Soda bread is a bit denser than yeast-risen dough and this allows the heat to get to the middle of the loaf easier.

Bake at 220C for 15-20 minutes. Look for a good colour underneath. It’s done when a skewer passed through the thickest part of the loaf comes out clean – or, when it breaks apart cleanly. Wrap in a tea-towel until it cools, to give you a softer crust.

Oh, what about the chilli, I hear you ask! Well, I had a sixth of the loaf with a couple of dessertspoons of chilli non carne leftover from dinner - along with half a pint of stout and about an inch of wine. And very nice it was too. 

I no longer feel guilty about eating at night - since I no longer have breakfast, this evens itself out! :)

Update, 4 days later:
I ate the last of this loaf this lunchtime - at four days old it was still OK. Probably best to eat it by the third day, but if it goes over into a fourth day, it still won't be stale!

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