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, 30 October 2014

MONTHLY BREADMAKING SESSION IN TAUNTON


Monday 27th October 2014
3rd session, 5 students (with 3 apologies, so numbers are building up), 4 of whom made pizzas and chocolate rolls, and one (who had just popped her head round the door to check where we were) came with no ingredients, so she made a batch of fancy dinner rolls and some iced buns.

Cheese and tomato pizza - with olives

Leaky pain au chocolat! Some chocolate leaks more than others.

Next month we're making a fruit dough (possibly apfel kuchen or schiacciatta con l'uva) and cheese and tomato sizzlers.

Monday 20th September 2014
2nd session, 4 students this time, who all made a loaf of bread, 
All these loaves were made with a 4-strand plait - one freeform and two tinned




Two-toned loaf-half white, half wholemeal and white, shaped into a 4-strand plait and fitted into a bread tin
…and Chelsea buns:


Each batch of Chelsea buns, made with around 150g (small cup) of flour  and 100g of sultanas  costs less than half the price of a Chelsea bun in the shops

Next session, on the 27th of October, will feature cheese and tomato pizzas and petit pain au chocolat (again!) - but also one of the students would like to make croissants.

7th August 2014

Last Tuesday, I began what is intended to be a regular breadmaking session at St George's Church Hall, Wilton in Taunton. They will be held from 2-4pm on the 4 Tuesday in the month (to be confirmed).

In the first session, five students - most of them fairly new to breadmaking - made a soda bread focaccia, cheese and tomato sizzlers (wraps) plus pain au chocolat and jam doughnuts. 


Italian soda breads - or, soda bread focaccias! The one at the top right is a failed attempt at a gluten-free version!


Add caption

Fancy dinner rolls and sizzlers



Pain au chocolat, jam doughnuts and jam pasties

It is proposed that each month we will make a variety of different breads so that students will build up a bread portfolio.

There will be space for about a dozen students on the course, so there's plenty of space ATM!

The next session is planned for Tuesday 26th August, when we shall be making loaves and fruit bread - there'll be a choice between Chelsea buns/Swedish tea rings/apfel kuchens and more.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

MAKING HEART ATTACKS HISTORY - by eating a plant based diet!

It's no secret that, as a vegan, I'd like everyone to adopt a plant based diet. 

My reasons for this until recently have been two-fold - it would undoubtedly   remove a lot of cruelty from the world, and it's much better for the environment and global warming.

But there's also the issue of one's health. I personally feel good on a vegan diet - and there's a wealth of evidence to show that eating meat and dairy foods isn't always a good thing.

Now I've just come across a TEDx talk by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on the benefits of a plant-based diet in regard to the heart, entitled,


"Making Heart Attacks History: Caldwell Esselstyn at TEDxCambridge 2011."


I don't follow all of Dr Esselstyn strictures - I consume a fair bit of oil, and I do like my coffee - but I follow most of them. And I figure with my fasting and exercise regimes I'm in pretty good shape!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Open letter to Jay Rayner

Dear Jay

I've always had a soft spot for you - possibly because I loved your mother and everything she did.

And you've always struck me as a reasonable sort of bloke when I've seen you on TV, or read your articles in the Observer.

But to read your comment that 'everything is better with bacon' has lead me to feel a modicum of pity for you - which is not something I could have anticipated.

I'll grant you that the comment may have been made as a throw-away, slightly tongue in cheek line, guaranteed to get a response, but, really, even to entertain the thought for a second reveals a lack of imagination.

In fact, you have the argument on its head - the sentiment should read, 'everything is betterwithout bacon'. 

As a guy in my late 70s, I grew up with the 'Meat and 2 veg' mindset. Vegetables were an adjunct, an add-on to the main event - the meat. And I'm sure that mindset includes perhaps 95% of Britons - but should it include yourself, Jay? If the answer to that is 'yes', I would be very disappointed.

I consider myself a moderate cook - but when I became a vegan 12 years ago, now, I found I had to start thinking out of the box. 

If I, an average to moderate Emoji cook can produce, healthy, tasty - really flavoursome - dishes without meat, time after time, imagine what amazing things you could conjure up?

I love my food, and I eat very well - but there's an added bonus to 'everything is better without bacon' - it comes guilt-free!

Warmest regards, Paul

A VEGAN DIET, FASTING - AND ARTHRITIS!


Often, when there's not a lot on the box and I have time to kill, I google the word 'Fasting' followed by a condition, or an activity or somesuch.

I saw my GP last week for something minor and I just happened to mention that my arthritis had been in abeyance for several years. It was just a throwaway remark along with all the other subjects we'd been discussing.

But later I began to think about this, and realised that my arthritis, which had steadily been getting ever so slightly (but significantly) worse - until I stopped eating meat and dairy foods and became a vegan. Since then, while there has been no real improvement in my condition (apart from the amelioration of pain I gained from acupuncture), it hasn't deteriorated in the slightest. In fact, apart from the swelling in most of the joints of my fingers, it would be difficult to tell I had arthritis at all!

So I googled 'Fasting and arthritis', and found this article which more or less explains why my arthritis has been stable for the past ten or so years. And why fasting, in conjunction with a plant-based diet is beneficial.

It seems to make perfect sense to me. Thoughts, anyone?


Monday, 13 October 2014

ONLINE BREADMAKING COURSE - SODA BREAD


(I was motivated to write this on-line breadmaking course after I had to postpone a planned 2-day workshop(s) in  Castle Cary, in Sept/Oct 2014. The course has been re-scheduled for the last two Sundays in November 2014.

To fill the gap, and to partly make it up to the students I felt I had let down somewhat, I thought I would give the students the opportunity to begin breadmaking before the course.)

The first bread I planned to make in the first session was a plain soda bread loaf.


An all wholemeal loaf, cost; roughly 35p, ready in around 30 minutes. Method and pics below. 
These are two loaves made by the children in my Family Learning session at Halcon Primary School, Taunton back in May this year.
The first was made by Charlotte - and this one by Laura. The initials ensure that everyone can identify their own bread!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

VEGAN COFFEE AND WALNUT CAKE




Vegan coffee cake

Ingredients:
200g sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
165g self raising flour
80g vegetable oil
250g water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
Measure the dry ingredients and mix them together using a spoon and a whisk.
Add the liquids and continue stirring and whisking.
When the – very wet – mixture is smooth, pour into a prepared 20cm (8") cake tin.

Bake at 175C for 30-35 minutes.

Or: Use a silicon cake form and place in the microwave (800w) for 6 minutes. In my experience, not only do you get a quicker cake, but the cake rises about 25% higher in the microwave.


(It's also possible to make a gluten-free version, using a gluten-free self-raising flour mix.)

Topping:
Now, my daughter made this with a combination of coconut cream, icing sugar and coffee - and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts. She's left for home now, so I'll need to ask her tomorrow what proportions she used.

The icing is full of flavour - but it refused to set, so a rethink is needed on this. If you search online for vegan cake icing (or frosting, as our US friends call it) there are plenty of recipes.