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, 4 October 2015


Singed a bit - but showing the sunflower seeds

I had a plea from a friend of mine who was trying to follow my recipe for overnight-proving, no-knead loaf. It never seemed to rise properly the second time, he reported.

So I thought I should go back to basics, and give the recipe I’ve been following recently.

It takes less than 2 hours, only uses one proving (rising), and yet it’s a very tasty loaf.

I’ve recently re-discovered the joys of toasted seeds in my bread – but they can be left out with no effect – except the loaf will have more flavour if they're included.

400g Doves organic wholemeal (other wholemeals are around, but I believe this to be the best available)
100g strong white flour (this provides a bit more ‘lift’ – since all wholemeal breads can be a bit dense)
5g salt (not essential - salt is a personal thing)
*15g fresh yeast (or 10g dried active yeast), plus
Lukewarm, or tepid, water – total 350g including the yeast
Olive oil (optional, but a little - say1-2 tablespoons - will help keep the loaf a bit longer)

If you intend including seeds – and I thoroughly recommend this – then toast (fry lightly in a dry frying pan) 50g of either sesame seeds or sunflower seeds for a few minutes, until they brown a little and start ‘popping’. Include them in with the flour.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, scrape the flour to one side a little and crumble the fresh yeast into the gap. Add the water up to 350g, add the olive oil then stir (paddle) the yeast initially, with a table knife, to dissolve it before mixing in the rest of the flour. If you’re using dried yeast I’d dissolve it in some of the water in a cup before adding it to the bowl - as soon as it is dissolved, it acts exactly the same as fresh yeast.

Mix the dough quite vigorously into a fairly sticky dough then transfer it to the worktop. Knead it for a couple of minutes to distribute the ingredients throughout – adding a little flour if necessary to make it easy to handle, but keeping it slightly tacky.

Oil or line a 2lb loaf tin, shape the dough into a log shape about as long as your tin and place it in the tin. Cover with a dry teatowel and leave on your worktop to rise. Or, place it in the oven or the microwave with a dish of hot water (and without the teatowel).

When the loaf has risen to a couple of centimetres or so above the tin, or when you judge it has more or less doubled in size, bake in a hot oven (200/220C or gas mark 7) for 25-30 minutes, turning it once after 15 minutes. The loaf should be brown on all sides.

Leave to cool on a wire rack – or position it across the loaf tin until it cools.

When slicing a loaf, especially a fresh loaf, let the knife do the work – don’t force it.

*Fresh yeast can be found at a baker's shop - if bread is made on the premises. Sainsbury's will sell you 50g for 20p - at Morrison's packs can be found in the chiller cabinets and it's often given away at Asda. Tesco's (at least here in Taunton) don't want to know.

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