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.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

SEITAN CUTLETS AND CHUNKS

Thursday 9th June 2016
Here's my latest seitan - made with leftover veg and potato stew + vital wheat gluten and flavourings:

Two ways to cook this - one half baked in the oven, the other half dry fried
All I do nowadays is to weigh off the leftover stew - today around 350g, then estimate how much wheat gluten I'll need - and I went for 150g.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

WHY EATING NOTHING BUT PLANTS IS NOT ONLY GOOD FOR US - IT'S ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD HEALTH

13th December 2016
News just in - A Plant-based TV show!

This was a comment on Michael Greger's video on aspirin.


Here's an blurb that I just read on Meatout Mondays:
"You may have heard of TV shows like The Biggest Loser, Bar Rescue, and Extreme Weight Loss but did you know that the producer of these shows is vegan? And that he has decided to launch a plant-based version of the famed, The Biggest Loser? The Big Fat Truth will aim to have participants eat a plant-based diet—while under the watchful eye of the amazing Dr. Michael Greger. In an interview with VegNews, Roth said, "a group of six diabetic participants featured on the show completely ceased taking medication after theinitial 10-day, plant-based transition—just from eating plants!" The show is set to air in April 2017 on the Z Living network. Plant-based TV shows by 'big deal' producers? Yes please!" Full article

7th December 2016
In an attempt to avoid BSE/CJD (Mad Cow's Disease), I became a vegetarian 15 years ago. I first of all gave up beef, then, after Christmas 2001, all other sources of meat. It was just easier that way.

It then took me around 2 years to transition to a completely plant-based (vegan) diet - impelled by increasing concerns about animal welfare. About 2-3 months after giving up all sources of dairy, I found that my nasal drip - a constant irritant - had completely dried up. 

My osteoarthritis, from which I'd suffered for the previous few years, stabilised - it was no longer getting worse each year, as it had been. Today it is no longer a concern - I no longer have osteoarthritis.

Now, of course, Climate Change has reared its ugly head and forswearing meat and meat products is even more of an imperative.

So, 3 reasons to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet: 
Health; 
Animal Welfare; and, 
Global Warming.

Any one of these three reasons, IMO, should be sufficient on its own to persuade people to eat nothing but plants.

The evidence for the health effects of eating a plant-based diet is overwhelming. The case is made most effectively in the film, Forks Over Knives. (95 minutes) 

Here is a review.

The film Forks Over Knives, Extended Interviews is also available. In it the scientists who contributed to the film talk about their work.

Review here.


Friday, 9 December 2016

CREOLE SODA BREAD - CHOCOLATE AND BEETROOT AND VEGAN!

23rd January 2013.
Made this in the microwave, but, because other microwaved cakes of mine have over-flowed the silicon cake form I use, I reduced the amount by 20%:

Microwave version:

160g self raising flour (for a gluten free version, just substitute GF s/raising flour)
120g granulated sugar
20g cocoa powder
80g grated, cooked beetroot
100g water
60g apple juice 
40g vegetable oil

Using an 800W microwave, 7 minutes minutes on full power. Leave in the cake form for ten minutes to finish cooking.

[Pics to come]

4/5/12
Made this again, with oil this time and some apple juice instead of water. I also reduced the sugar by a quarter. I think this makes a nicer loaf.

Revised recipe:
200g self raising flour
150g granulated sugar
2 dessertspoons cocoa powder
100g grated, cooked beetroot
100g water
100g apple juice
50g vegetable oil

At work this morning, I was collared by the wife of one of my friends on the walk, who told me he hadn't stopped talking about the chocolate and beetroot loaf - and could she have the recipe, please!


2/5/12
Certainly looks the part


Risen quite well
I've been meaning to try this ever since I bought some of this bread at the 'Taste of Christmas' Show at the Excel Centre before Christmas last year. The bread was amazing. We were told it was vegan, and made with fruit juice - and whatever fruits they were making it with. There was an astonishing variety of cakes, all made to a basic formula.

Finally managed to track down the company - Global Fusion, of Stoke Newington, London, N16.

Since making vegan chocolate cake, which uses self raising flour, I've been wondering about the dividing line between that sort of cake and a soda bread. My thought was that the Creole breads come somewhere in the middle.

I'd also wanted to make a soda bread version of the chocolate and beetroot loaf I've made quite a few times.

So this is my attempt - and it's in the oven right this very minute. Another 25 minutes will tell me if I'm on the right track or not.

Ingredients:
200g self raising flour
200g sugar
25g cocoa powder
100g cooked beetroot, grated
200g water

Method:
Measure the dry ingredients (sifting the cocoa powder) into a mixing bowl, add the grated beetroot then the water. Stir with a large spoon, then whisk for a few seconds then pour into a prepared loaftin.

Only when I was pouring it in the loaftin did I realise - too late - that I'd forgot to include any oil.

So, we'll see shortly, just what sort of a cock-up I've made!

60 minutes later. The bread's out of the oven, sliced and tasted. It tastes fine, but we'll see what my fellow walkers think of it tomorrow.

Conclusions:
Well, it's different! It holds together well, but it's a little rubbery; it's slightly claggy in mouth feel; it's sweet - perhaps too sweet; but when I'd finished a taste, my mouth wanted to taste it again - so that's a positive.

I'll see what my mates think.

Next time I'll make one just as it was described to me by the stall holder - full of fruit juice. So I'll ditch the beetroot and make it just with apple juice - perhaps using 150g of sugar instead of 200g. Oh, and I'll definitely include some oil - perhaps 50g.

Wednesday 2nd May.
Beautiful day for a walk on the Quantocks with some good friends, and about an hour into the walk I brought out the bread - which went down very well! "Moist," "Delicious""Very nice!"

So even without any oil at all, it's still an excellent loaf!


Saturday, 3 December 2016

CALORIE COUNTED VEGAN PIZZA - CHEAP, WHOLESOME AND TASTY!

Tasty tomato pizza (Cost, around 70p)



Ingredients:
150g (1 mug) strong white flour 7.5p (551cals)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional) (5cals)
100g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast 4p (from Sainsbury's - free from Asda) (10cals)
25g sunflower oil from s-d-tomatoes (free) (optional)

Topping:Half a tin of tomatoes, reduced, with a tsp soya sauce and dried herbs - 20p (50cals)
One sliced mushroom and tomato - 10p(?) (20cals)
A little Roasted red pepper - 10p (10cals)
3 s-d-tomatoes, chopped - 20p (40cals)
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies (20cals)

(Total calorie count - 706. A pizza for one, using 100g of flour, would work out at 470cals!)

Sunday, 27 November 2016

QUICK SEITAN RECIPE

300g baked seitan - enough for two Sunday roasts
I needed some seitan for the coming week, so I thought I'd cook some up whilst the oven was on for a Sunday roast. (More seitan info.)

I used leftover spicy tomato sauce (from pizza-making yesterday), as a base.

Recipe:
200g vital wheat gluten
4 dessertspoons nutritional yeast (nooch)
2 teaspoons bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons curry powder (I like a lot of heat - add to taste)

Plus:
200g homemade tomato sauce - made with a tin of tomatoes, blitzed, with mushroom sauce, soy sauce, vegan pesto (Marigold), Lingham's chilli sauce, mixed herbs.

Method:
Mix the dry ingredients, then add 150g of this to the tomato sauce. Stirring with a table knife, I found this was too wet, so I added another 25g of powder. It was still too wet, so another 25g of powder were added - then I kneaded this into a dough.

300g of this were pressed into a small, oiled, roasting dish and baked, with a lid, for 30 minutes - whilst the oven was on for the roast potatoes, etc.


Cut into two pieces, one half for tonight's dinner, and the other in the freezer.
For Sunday dinner I have one of these halves, sliced, with some of the tomato sauce instead of gravy. The half in the freezer could be next Sunday's dinner or, chopped into chunks, become part of a chilli non carne.

The other 150g I rolled out into a cutlet Notes:
This made 450g of seitan, the other 150g, pressed out into a circle about 10cm across and dry-fried for about 7-8 minutes each side, will make a seitan cutlet, which I will have for dinner tomorrow along with some curried potato wedges.

You get a more even thickness if you use a rolling pin - don't believe those other websites which tell you that this makes it tough - not true. 

I had about 40g of the flavoured vital wheat gluten left. I've found it's always better to make more than you need, it saves having to flavour another 25g, then perhaps another 25g. I put the leftover in an old spice tub which I keep in the bag of gluten flour, so it's there next time I want to make seitan.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

GIVING UP SUGAR - HARDER THAN GIVING UP ALCOHOL

Thursday 24th November 2016
Still in the zone - every meal I have without something sweet afterwards makes it easier. I was in Lidl today, and, although I bought a box of Turkish Delight for Christmas, I left the other stuff well alone. This is a first for me! :)


Saturday 19th November 2016
Well, it's only been one week, now - and I'm astonished! 

In that time I've had 4 squares of dark chocolate and several pieces of a homemade fruit soda bread - eaten as part of dinner.

My mouth no longer tells me it wants something sweet after a meal - it just doesn't! My desire for sweet stuff is getting easier every day.

This afternoon I made this 'cake in a mug' for my grandson - and I wasn't tempted in the slightest. 

So does it take just 7 days to ween oneself off sugar? I'm only a study of one, of course, but it does look very hopeful.

Thinking about it, what I was doing previously was a bit like a cigarette smoker trying to give up by smoking less - it just doesn't work. Every time you have another cigarette, you're reinforcing the nicotine addiction. Every time you have a biscuit/sweet/etc, you're reinforcing the sugar addiction.

Thoughts?

Saturday 12th November 2016
As regular readers may remember, for the past several months, I've been trying to give up - or severely cut down on - alcohol, sugar and snacking in the evening, using the 2:5 method.

I'm now down to 1 pint of stout and a small glass on wine on one day a week, and I only have a late night snack on Saturdays. But sugar has been a far harder nut to crack. I have cut out all snacking between meals, and only eating any treats after lunch or dinner. Once I start, however, despite all the tips I've learned over the past 4+ years, I'm not always able to stop.

The lead up to Xmas I find particularly difficult; Lidl have now introduced their Xmas fare, which includes several vegan treats including chocolate covered marzipan, chocolate liqueurs, marzipan fruits and Turkish delight. In previous years I've gone to town on these, reasoning that, since they're not available year-round, I should fill my boots, as it were. This year I've been more circumspect, but I still have all these goodies to hand, albeit in smaller quantities.

However, this still didn't square with my stated aim of giving up sugar.

Finally, last Saturday, I thought, right, time to take drastic(ish) action. I bundled up all my goodies in a plastic bag and threw them on top of a tall kitchen cupboard*. All I've had since then has been 2 squares of dark chocolate (I find it easy to stop after one square) - one on Sunday and one yesterday. Since I'm fasting, no chocolate for me today.

Although it's only been three days, I really feel that a corner has been turned.

Monday, 7 November 2016

WHAT CAN I MAKE WITH JUST FLOUR AND WATER

A simple soda bread*

Pancakes - just as good as the ones made with milk and eggs

Pikelets - This calls for a thicker batter which doesn't spread out over the pan

Tempura - A slightly thicker batter again: simply dip in some thin slices of your chosen 'filler', and shallow fry

Pasta - without need for a machine!

Sourdough. This needs time, but a flour and water batter, left for a few days will begin to ferment - and then you can turn it into bread!

Naan breads - done in the oven, under a grill, or in the frying pan

Pastry Here's a very simple rhubarb pie recipe - just self raising flour and water, with a little sugar and some olive oil, mixed together and rolled out. For a savoury pastry use a little salt instead of sugar.

Chappatis, of course. No need for a link, there are many recipes on line for this.

Dumplings Mix self-raising flour and water together into a dough, form into small balls and add to your stew! Talk about 'Easy-Peasy'!

*The term 'Soda bread' covers a wide range of breads (more to come)


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

IS VEGAN THE NEW VIAGRA?



Basically, men who consume meat have lower testosterone levels than their vegan counterparts, take more medications for diet-related conditions, suffer from diminished sexual performance, potency, and erectile dysfunction, are subject to smaller or deformed genitalia in utero, inclined to halitosis/body odor, have enlarged prostates which makes urinating difficult, and tend to be overweight/obese - which elevates oestrogen levels. As Dr. McDougall says, "Now isn't eating meat a manly thing to do!"



Monday, 24 October 2016

BREADMAKING SESSIONS with the Taunton Association for the Homeless (TAH)

Wednesday 19th October 2016
2 students today, Becky again and her friend (whose name I've temporarily forgotten) made pizzas:

Pizza no. 1 for Becky

And pizza number 2.
When making the dough she added too much water, so she had to add a fair amount of flour to make it into a manageable dough - enough for two pizzas!

Becky's friend's pizza - nibbled a little bit.

She also made this fruit loaf in a frying pan.
Becky didn't make a fruit loaf, saying she didn't like sultanas. However, when she tasted the fruit loaf her friend had made - she really enjoyed it. 


Monday, 17 October 2016

Garlic batons

Whenever I'm offered garlic bread at a gathering it's almost inevitably a supermarket baguette, cut into chunks, slathered with butter and garlic and baked for a while. It's OK, but it doesn't have the depth of flavour of these batons, where the bread and the filling are cooked together. Vary the filling as you will, with herbs, pesto, etc. As a vegan, I use olive oil instead of butter.
Garlic batons. Dough rolled out flat, covered with mashed garlic and olive oil, then rolled up like a Swiss roll


This method infuses the whole loaf with garlic


Ingredients:
400g strong white flour of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml lukewarm water
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
Good splash of olive oil

Filling:
Garlic spread made with around a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed, and olive oil to taste. Mix in any herbs or spices you fancy. Spread with pesto to give it a bit more oomph.

Method:
1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up! Either leave it, covered, for an hour or so, or go to step 4.

4. Divide the dough in two and form each piece into a round bap shape. Roll each piece out into a large rectangle – about 20cm by 30cm on a floured worktop. Spread the filling all over the dough and roll each piece up like a Swiss roll, with the seam side underneath. Gently tuck the ends underneath to stop any leakage. (You’ll still get a bit.) Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

5. Leave to prove until they have risen appreciably.

6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. Look for colour underneath.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

EAT, FAST, AND LIVE LONGER - How I began Intermittent Fasting

[14th August 2013 - discharged from the Lung Clinic.][Notes from a talk I gave to Taunton Humanists in March about Intermittent Fasting - including all I've learned over the past year.][Walking is no longer enough - my extra energy levels since fasting][Intermittent Fasting and the Hunger Switch] - why we feel more hunger on non-fasting days.]How it all started, for me:I began this eating programme (it's not a diet, it's a way of living - WOL) on the 27th Feb 2012. The story begins at the foot of the post if you want to read about my journey in chronological order. The links to the various research documents I've come across are posted as I found them.In early August 2012, Dr Michael Mosley presented a BBC Horizon programme on the subject of fasting, including Calorie Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF). This backed up everything I'd discovered  about the health benefits of fasting - and I switched from 50% of calories on two days a week to the full-blown 25% of calories (600 calories or less).

Saturday, 24 September 2016

2ND VEGAN BREADMAKING COURSE at The Planet Cafe, Taunton

Tuesday 20th September 2016
Arrived late tonight - traffic in Taunton was pretty well grid-locked, due to Station Road closing to allow a new bridge being placed in position. A couple of the students were also late - but with breadmaking being such an easy activity, we soon got back on track.

Focaccia and Chelseas tonight:

Not sure who loaf this belonged to - but it's a well-risen loaf

Another good loaf - and this time I can identify it to Sarah H
(Note: I ask the students to place an initial on top of each batch of bread - for two reasons; firstly, so the students can be re-united with their own bread - but also so that I can identify these breads when I'm putting these pics up on here.)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

FANCY DINNER ROLLS AND SHAPES


Ingredients:
200g or 1 mug strong flour – either all white or a mix of white and wholemeal
¼ teaspoon salt
125ml or 1/3rd mug lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast, fresh or dried

Method:
1 Measure the water and stir in the yeast. Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and pour in the yeast liquid.

2 Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3 Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

4 Divide the dough into 6 pieces with the side of your hand and give yourself plenty of room on your worktop. Take one of the pieces in each hand and flatten them down with the palms of your (flat) hand. Keeping them pressed down, gently move them round in a circle. After a couple of circles, start to ease the pressure off. Still moving in circles, let your hands form a hollow shape. Gradually cup your hands and relax the pressure, whilst still making the circular movement. Your little finger and thumb should make contact in turn with the side of the roll as it tightens up. Ease off the pressure altogether, and you should have a couple of bun shapes! Place the rolls either on greased bun trays or on oven trays lined with baking parchment.
5 Cover and leave to prove until the rolls have doubled in size, then bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes.
Why not make some shapes - Fancy Dinner Rolls:
Roll each piece of dough out into a long thin rope, long enough to tie a knot in it – Lover’s Knot
Roll the dough out a bit longer and roll it up from one end – Whirl
Roll the dough up from both ends – Twirl
Roll the dough up on top from one end and underneath from the other – Swirl
Pick up the dough in the middle and twist one end around the other – Twist

And of course, you can invent your own shapes!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

VEGAN 'MACARONI' CHEESE

For two:

30g flour
25g vegan spread
200g soya (or other vegan) milk
(I used 50g soy cream + 150g water)
1 dessertspoon nooch
1/2 teaspoon bouillon powder
2 heaped teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Black pepper + other spices to taste (I'm a great fan of cayenne pepper)

Plus:
100g pasta of your choice (I used fusilli, since that's what we had in), cooked just how you like it.

Method:
Place all the ingredients except the pasta into a small saucepan over a low heat, and start stirring as soon as any bubbles form. Keep stirring as the sauce thickens, adding more water if it thickens too much. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, stir and serve.

For some reason, I have to have fresh (well, defrosted) wholemeal bread with this. :)

(This is adapted from Jacqueline Meldrum's recipe.)


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

BUBBLE AND SQUEAK - WITH HUMMUS!

Had some leftover veg to use up, after our Sunday roast, so I thought I'd turn it into bubble and squeak.

I generally flavour it with nutritional yeast (nooch) and curry powder, but today I left out the nooch - and included a good dollop of hummus. It was superb! This is definitely the way to go.

Bubble and squeak with hummus and fried tomatoes - and fresh, wholemeal bread. Mmm...

One of those meals you just don't want to end!

Friday, 19 August 2016

BREADMAKING VILLAGE

This, just in from Jane:

This was obviously before her son, Tom, caught sight of them! I wonder how many are left now...


Wednesday 3rd August 2016
Another good session with once again, just the 5 students attending. The students made pikelets:

The students made a mix of plain and fruit pikelets
And sizzlers (cheese and tomato or mushroom wraps):

Hazel's sizzlers put to prove...
And baked!
Jane's sizzlers
Nicola's
And Brian's

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A BASIC LOAF OF BREAD - 3 different methods


 There are several methods I use to make a loaf of bread, depending on how much time I have available.

Method A uses the traditional flour to water ratio of 1lb of flour to 1/2 pint of water (500g flour to 315ml). I used this for many years, both at home and it was also used in the bakery where I worked for a while. The dough is mixed, kneaded for a short time, shaped and put to prove.

However, over the past couple of years I’ve become aware of the benefits of adding more water to a mix – the dough rises better and the bread also keeps longer.

There are two methods I use to get more water in a mix, these are detailed in Methods B and C.

Method B is a bit more ‘hands on’ – involving several short kneadings over a 30-45 minute period starting with a fairly sticky dough. Each time the bread is kneaded, the dough gets less sticky. Then the dough is left for an hour or so to rest before shaping and baking.

Method C is what I call the ‘Overnight, no-knead loaf’ and is the easiest method of the three. The dough for this is simply mixed together, left to prove overnight and results in a loaf that’s full of flavour. For this I find a food storer with a snap-top lid is invaluable. I use one which holds 2.8ltrs.


Method A. If I want to make one in a hurry – say in my sessions or I want to make one for a visitor to take away with them, I make this loaf:

Ingredients:
500g (3 mugs) strong flour, all white – or a mix of white and wholemeal. I use 400g wholemeal to 100g of white
1/2 tsp salt
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast or teaspoon of dried active 
315ml (1 mug) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional, but improves keeping qualities)

Method:
1. Measure the water and stir in the yeast until it has dissolved. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil if using.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

4. Oil a large loaf tin and have it ready, shape the dough by pressing it out into a rough rectangle and rolling it up tightly. Put the dough into the tin with the seam underneath.

5. Or: For a freeform loaf, shape the loaf by pulling up the dough at the sides with your fingertips and pushing it down in the middle; do that all round the dough. This will have the effect of smoothing the underneath of the dough. Then turn it over and shape it into a round. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

6. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to prove on your worktop until it has grown appreciably in size. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for about 25-30 minutes.

7. The loaf is ready when it has browned on the sides and bottom. You may need to put it back in upside down, for a few more minutes. It is better overbaked than underbaked.


Method B. If I have more time, but I still want to make it in a morning, or an afternoon, I’ll use the ‘Several short kneadings over 30-40 minutes’ method:

Same amount of flour, salt and yeast, but 350ml of water.

This mixes into a fairly sticky dough.

Once it’s mixed together, pour a little oil on your worktop and place your dough on top of it.
Pour some oil over your dough and begin to knead – but only for a short time – say 10-20 seconds.
Now place your bowl over the dough and scrape off all the dough from your hands.
Leave the dough for 10-15 minutes and repeat the short kneading action, using oil to make it easier to handle. Once again invert the bowl over your dough and leave it for 10-15 minutes.
Repeat the above once more and your dough should by now be manageable without the oil.

Leave it to prove for an hour or two on your worktop. This period of rest gives the bread a better rise.

Form it into your preferred shape and go to Step 4 or 5:

4. Oil a large loaf tin and have it ready, shape the dough by pressing it out into a rough rectangle and rolling it up tightly. Put the dough into the tin with the seam underneath.

5. Or: For a freeform loaf, shape the loaf by pulling up the dough at the sides with your fingertips and pushing it down in the middle; do that all round the dough. This will have the effect of smoothing the underneath of the dough. Then turn it over and shape it into a round. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

6. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to prove on your worktop until it has grown appreciably in size. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for about 25-30 minutes.

7. The loaf is ready when it has browned on the sides and bottom. You may need to put it back in upside down, for a few more minutes. It is better overbaked than underbaked.

Method C. But the best and easiest method is the ‘Overnight, no-knead loaf’. This is left to prove overnight and produces by far the most flavoursome loaf. For this I find a food storer with a snap-top lid is invaluable. I use one which holds 2.8ltrs.

Once again, 500g flour to 350ml water, but use half the yeast.

Mix the dough together (I mix it in my food storer, so there’s less washing up) but don’t bother to knead.

Just put the lid on and leave it on your worktop. Generally I make it the following morning, but I have left it for over 48 hours in the past and it’s been fine.

When you’re ready to bake it, place it on your worktop and fold it over several times. It should be quite manageable. If it’s too wet, you may want to knead in more flour – say 25g at a time.)

Then continue from Step 4 or 5:

4. Oil a large loaf tin and have it ready, shape the dough by pressing it out into a rough rectangle and rolling it up tightly. Put the dough into the tin with the seam underneath.

5. Or: For a freeform loaf, shape the loaf by pulling up the dough at the sides with your fingertips and pushing it down in the middle; do that all round the dough. This will have the effect of smoothing the underneath of the dough. Then turn it over and shape it into a round. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

6. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to prove on your worktop until it has grown appreciably in size. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for about 25-30 minutes.

7. The loaf is ready when it has browned on the sides and bottom. You may need to put it back in upside down, for a few more minutes. It is better overbaked than underbaked.

Note: There’s no doubt that more flavour develops the longer flour and yeast have to mature together. However, in my experience it takes at least 4 hours for the difference in taste to become apparent. That’s why I haven’t included an initial proving time in loaf A.

I find an all wholemeal loaf too heavy for my taste, so I always include some white flour in the mix just to give it a bit of a lift.

A word about yeast. Mostly I use fresh yeast it’s just the easiest to use and the most convenient; occasionally I’ll use active dried yeast; and rarely the fast action yeast.

If you can’t get fresh yeast, use dried active yeast (Allinson’s, in a yellow tin, currently 65p; kept near the flour shelves) – half the amount.



Notes:
Use every loaf that you make as a marker for the next one.
Dough too wet? Reduce the water by 25g.
Too dry? Add another 25g of water next time.
If you do make changes to the recipe, make a note of what you’ve done.
Try and get into a regular bread making routine: Practice makes perfect, etc, and every loaf you make will improve.