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.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


A plain, ordinary focaccia - nonetheless, a gorgeous bit of bread!

On Sunday I returned from a fantastic walking weekend in mid-Wales - with 35 other blokes, here. We do this every six months or so - basically eating, drinking and walking from Friday midday until Sunday lunchtime. 

On Saturday evening, after dinner, for a bit of light entertainment - and education - I generally do a breadmaking demo. On this occasion I'd brought along a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, so I thought we'd make a couple of focaccias - one plain, with just olive oil, and the other with s-d-tomatoes.

The recipe is simplicity itself - as with any bread you can make it as easy or as complicated as you wish. With the audience I had, who'd just had a very good meal - preceded by a goodly intake of beer, accompanied with wine and followed by a very good port - and were keen to get stuck into the card games that were always an integral part of these weekends, I went for the easy option!

I enlisted the help of one of the newcomers to the group, Charlie, who was keen to make his own bread - he made the loaf at the top of the post.

So the ingredients for each loaf were two mugs of bread flour, with a bit of salt, 2/3rds of a mug of lukewarm water and a good teaspoon of yeast, along with a glug of olive oil. 

Mixed altogether into a dough - takes about 2 minutes - kneaded for a further two minutes, pressed into a rough circle about 1.5cm thick and placed onto a prepared baking tray. 

With the plain one a few holes were simply pressed in the top of the dough with the  fingertips which were then filled with olive oil.

The second one was divided into 9 sections, a la noughts and crosses. A whole sun-dried tomato was place in each of these squares and pressed down a bit. (It would have been better to nick the surface of the dough first, to allow the tomatoes a better purchase, as several fell off the top of the loaf during baking!)

While the dough was proving, I began a game of chess - which resulted in the dough being horrifically over-proved. However, we (only just!) managed to get away with it!

Shaped and put to prove

Over proved and over baked, I'm afraid - the hazards of an unfamiliar oven
The s-d-tomato focaccia was not only over-proved, it was over-baked and the tomatoes were singed on top - but it didn't seem to make any difference to the flavour of the loaf, which was excellent!

Just goes to show the forgiving nature of breadmaking - you can get away with most things!

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