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, 27 July 2017

PANE CASERECCIO - Rolled stuffed pizza

(Some pics in this portfolio - about 12 photo's down.)

I vary the filling every time I make this - today I spread the dough with Pateole, a mushroom pate, covered that with pesto and added chunks of Fry's polony and Linda McCartney sausages plus slices of fried field mushroom. I sprinkled the whole lot with some nutritional yeast.


The dough was made with bouillon powder, half a teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of dried herbs and half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small. All this was added along with the flour. Plus I added 25g oil (from the s-d-tomatoes) after the liquid went in.


Ingredients (Makes two):    
400g (or 2 mugs) strong white flour                                                         
1/2 tsp salt                                                                  
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
250ml (or 2/3rds of a mug) lukewarm water
Two dessertspoons olive oil (optional)
                                                                       
Filling:
2 medium tomatoes or 8 mushrooms or a combination of these, cut into chunks
1 or 2 chopped vegan sausage
Chunks of vegan cheese - Violife pizza cheese works well
2/3 dessertspoons nutritional yeast, sprinkled over the filling
Black pepper

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 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. Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into cob shapes. Then, using flour to stop the dough sticking, roll them both out into a rectangle, roughly 30cm by 20cm. Work with each one, alternately. Spread the mushrooms/tomatoes and sausage across the dough, leaving a border at the top and bottom, then sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the filling. Finish with black pepper.

5. Roll up the dough towards you, as if making a Swiss roll, bring it to rest on the seam and squeeze the dough gently around the filling. Push any filling that’s fallen out back inside, then tuck the ends over to stop the cheese leaking out.

6. Place on a prepared baking sheet and leave to prove until they’ve risen appreciably.

7. Bake at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for between 20-25 minutes. If they are beginning to colour too fast, cover with baking parchment or foil and move to the coolest part of the oven. To check they are done, look for some colour underneath.
    Variations:
    Curried onions and vegan cheese. Fry some onions with curry powder. Spread across the base then add the cheese on top.

    Roasted peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, onions and vegan cheese.

    (Note: This is a version of a recipe I first saw Antonio Carluccio demonstrate on TV more than a dozen years ago. )

    Monday, 24 July 2017

    WHY EGGS should be off the menu

    10 medical reasons not to consume eggs. (Joel Kahn, MD)

    Eggs vs Cigarettes in Atherosclerosis (Michael Greger, MD)

    "...the head of USDA’s Poultry Research and Promotion program... “you can’t couch eggs [or] egg products as being ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious.'”
    (Who says eggs aren't healthy or safe? - Michael Greger, MD)

    Smashing the myth that eggs are a health food (Jesse J. Jacoby, Plant Based News)

    What's Wrong With Eggs? The Truth About The Egg Industry - (Erin Janus)


    Free range is a con. There is no such thing as an ethical egg. (Chas Newkey-Burden - The Guardian)

    So, to sum up: Eggs are unhealthy; egg production is inherently cruel; and is the cause of enormous pollution.

    Egg replacement.
    There are several alternatives for eggs - a quick online search brings up the main ones. But eggs are often unnecessary in recipes - for instance I never use eggs in my bread recipes. And very good pancakes can be made without eggs or milk.

    SPREADING THE VEGAN MESSAGE

    Saturday 22nd July
    There is so much information out there about the benefits of a WFPB diet, it's hard to keep up. A lot of it comes from my Twitter feed, some from the websites I've subscribed to, and a lot of it I come across by searching for it.

    Often I hear of someone with a health problem and I wonder if a plant based diet would help - so I search online, e.g.. vegan diet and diabetes (say) - and I find there are a plethora of articles on the subject.

    [More]




    19th June 2017
    Over the walking weekend, I expressed the view that if I had come across some info I thought would be useful to others, I should share it - to which there was general agreement. You don’t have to click on the links I send, after all.

    So, here’s a TED talk with a refreshing take on a plant based diet.


    Another TED talk by Dr John McDougall, a physician who sees his patients get better - with just a lifestyle change:


    In response to last week’s email I’ve had a couple of requests for links to advice on specific  conditions - namely diabetes and prostate cancer.



    Check out the links below the videos - and have a look at the comments sections, there is an amazing community of helpful individuals on there answering each and every question.

    Along with Drs McDougall and Greger extolling the benefits of a plant based diet - here’s Dr Neal Barnard:


    And another great, science based website:


    The general consensus seems to be that a high IGF-1 level contributes significantly to the growth of cancer and a WFPB diet helps to keep this low.  But don’t forget, Intermittent  Fasting is  also effective in this regard. 

    Cheers, Paul


    This is a follow-up to the email I sent out prior to the last weekend - which was hugely enjoyable, as it always is. I come away from these get-togethers hugely uplifted, and I can’t wait until the next one.

    Thanks to those of you who came to my presentation. (Hope nobody missed my breadmaking too much! 😄) For all those who missed it, the feedback I got was very positive and people found the information it contained very relevant.

    I hope by now you’ve managed to see the video I linked to - I sent it out very close to the weekend, so there wouldn’t have been time for you to watch it all, I’m guessing.

    There were 3 parts to my presentation: 
    The message contained in both the ‘How not to die’ video and the book with the same title. (BTW, Keith Walker was so impressed by the video that he printed off 2 copies of 14 pages of the transcript! And I was so impressed by the book that I have bought 3 copies - 1 for myself and one each for my kids). The message can be summed up in a very few sentences - human beings make our own cholesterol, so the cholesterol contained in meat and animal products finds its way into our arteries and blood vessels, attacking the lining and allowing plaque to build up. The plaque eventually closes off the arteries and heart disease results. However, the good news is that damage to the arterial system can be reversed:


    This is what Dr Greger calls the best kept secret in medicine - as soon as you stop damaging the body, it starts to repair itself!So if you switch over to a plant-based diet, the body starts to clear away the plaque from inside the blood vessels. Immediately!

    Part 2:
    Given the age of our demographic, I thought it important to concentrate as well on Alzheimer’s - probably the disease we most fear. One of Dr Greger’s videos on his Nutrition Facts website concerns reversing mild cognitive decline by 30 minutes of brisk exercise a day:


    That’s one side of the fight against dementia - the other is a plant-based diet. This is because the blood vessels in the brain are affected just as the coronary arteries are - so the blood supply to the brain is diminished. Exercise sends the blood pumping through the brain, clearing the arteries to the brain allows the blood to flow freely. 

    Part 3:
    Intermittent Fasting (IF). One of the reasons a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet is so healthy is that it lowers IGF-1, which causes cancer. IF also lowers IGF-1, so the two work hand in hand. IF also put the body under mild stress, so the cells rejuvenate themselves. I lost 24lbs over 8 months when I began IFing, and I’ve maintained a steady 9st 3 for the past over 4 years. Now I simply fast for 24 hours once a week.

    Here’s my story:


    So there you have it, folks. But, I urge you, don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. I think both a WFPB diet and IF are firmly grounded in science, but if you can come up with contrary evidence, I’d love to see it.


    2nd June 2017
    I'm a member of an informal discussion group, meeting monthly. Whoever hosts decides the topic to be discussed.

    Yesterday we met at mine - and I chose veganism, with an emphasis on health, but necessarily touching on animal welfare and global warming.

    Over the last few weeks, I've been sending them links and references on the subject, including the film Cowspiracy.

    I began the session intending to show them the first 10 minutes of Michael Greger's 'How not to die' video. I thought I'd better cut it short when Michael Greger had finished with the subject of halting and reversing CAD, but the group wanted to carry on watching. We watched a further 10 minutes, on the subject of cancer, then we had a discussion on what we'd seen and heard. They were very receptive, much to my surprise. I was helped by one of the group who had been reading my copy of 'How not to die', and several times read pertinent passages from it. He made a particular point of telling the group that the science was sound - there were 135 pages of references at the end of the book.

    After an hour or so, I gave them coffee, plus a selection of about a dozen vegan goodies which I'd prepared - Fry's polony; 2 types of hard cheese (including Vegusto); cream cheese; homemade pizza and breadsticks; my Thai chilli non carne; nutritional yeast; seitan; Mrs Crimble's stem ginger cake; Booja Booja chocolate ice cream; and some dark chocolate. My message was that you don't have to be deprived on a vegan diet.

    Then we had a further half an hour of discussion - I was asked to relate my own story, so I told them how and why I became vegan, including the positive effects this had on my own health - and we wrapped it up.

    Outcomes:
    One of the group took us all by surprise by saying that he intended to give a vegan diet a go for a fortnight! He very much related to my story of how my sinuses had dried up after giving up dairy - he not only had a constant nasal drip, but he had asthma as well. So we'll see how well he does.
    The friend who'd borrowed my copy of the book, and another friend were concerned that their main stumbling block would be how their wives would react. I said that if they bought some vegan goodies, the mere fact that they were in the house would make it easier to begin the process of transitioning. Something I'm working on myself.
    Another member of the group emailed me to say, "Brilliant morning. Lots to consider now for a life change." After the discussion, he'd confided in me that he hadn't been looking forward to the morning, expecting simply a boring chat about veganism!

    So, 4 out of 5 ain't bad! It's certainly the best reaction to my spreading the  word that I've had in 14 years!

    Wednesday, 19 July 2017

    SUMMER FRUIT PIZZA (vegan)

    I've made this a couple of times, and it's absolutely gorgeous! I'll get the recipe and pics up on here ASAP.

    Just wanted to put up a link for my students.

    2 smaller ones made with 1 mug flour

    Basically, the base is a simple pizza dough, using sugar rather than salt. It's then rolled out flat, with a thin layer of marzipan and a topping of frozen summer fruits. A sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon finishes it off.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017

    BREADMAKING MADE EASY - AT BURNHAM SS&L CENTRE

    Tuesday 4th July 2017
    5th week - jam doughnuts and tarts/pizza and calzone today (It was supposed to be mushroom en croute - but I forgot the mushrooms! We made a calzone with mushroom pate and pesto instead.)

    Marion's 'Fun with Jam' shaped and put to prove

    Vivien's. Doughnuts, jam tart and sweet Bialys

    John's
    Nic's

    Lynne's

    Jackie's

    John's pizza with nutritional yeast and vegan mozzarella
    (More to come - I took 31 pics today, thanks to John giving me a nudge now and then. )



    Tuesday 27th June 2017
    I've been running this course for several weeks now, with every intention of posting about it - and now I've managed to get round to it.

    6 students have been attending for the past four weeks - with 2 to go - and, so far, these complete beginners have made 13 different varieties of bread:

    A College loaf - tear and share. Not sure who's this is.

    John's College loaf 





    For the college loaves, half of the students made a wholemeal dough, while the other half made a dough from white flour - then they swapped half each.


    I think these are Viv's pain au chocoat - I know she made 8! :)

    Jackie and Nic's college loaves, naan breads, pittas and pain au chocolat

    More incognito bread! - Naan, pittas and pain au chocolat

    I always ask students to identify their bread with an initial - but it's often an afterthought and sometimes overlooked, both of which are my fault. The initial does two things, it enables students to be reunited with their own bread, and it allows me to identify who has made which batch.

    Lynne's naans and pittas

    Marion's pittas, naan and pain au chocolat

    Jackie and Nic's  chocolate and banana bread and garlic 'batons' - slightly nibbled!

    As you've noticed, some of the breads are darker than others - partly this is to do with the ovens, but occasionally, the bread gets forgotten about, and becomes a bit singed!

    The students also made a batch of 'high-hydration' dough to take home with them - this is a method of getting more water into a bread dough. You make the dough stickier than usual, then give it several 10-20 second kneadings over an hour or two. Each time you re-visit the dough it's slightly less sticky than before.

    During the shaping demos, Vivien showed us how to do a 5-strand plait:


    I took a video of Viv doing this - if I can upload it, I will.

    Since yesterday's session I've received a couple of emails:

    Jackie wrote:

    Hi Paul 
    When we got home the bread was pushing its way out of the container !! and wow when we cooked it was lovely so pleased , Nic took his loaf to Cornwall this evening to share with his Mum n Dad.
    I loved the result and so easy thanks so much 

    And Lynne wrote:

    Dear Paul,
    It made delicious toast for my husband and I this morning and I feel very pleased with my efforts. The garlic batons were to die for. Probably my favourite so far. I had eaten 1 before I drove home yesterday and managed to share the other with my hubby over a pasta supper dish. 



    Absolutely splendid, is my verdict!

    Since this course is all about gaining the skills to make bread at home, it's good to see the results from the student's own kitchens!

    Monday, 3 July 2017

    GARLIC BATONS - in the oven and frying pan (Vegan)

    Saturday 1st July 2017
    Since I began teaching at Taunton Association of the Homeless, a couple of years ago, I've made quite a bit of bread in a frying pan, along with the students. When they find accommodation, they may not always have an oven, but they may well have a hob and a frying pan. 

    Last week the students on my current Burnham breadmaking opted to make garlic batons, as below, in the oven. So I wanted to see how these would fare, making them in a frying pan.

    I used self raising flour, as I often do, these days:
    Put the frying pan on a medium heat
    100g s/raising flour
    Pinch of salt
    65ml water

    Mixed into a dough and kneaded for a minute or two
    Roll out into a rectangle a bit shorter than the frying pan

    Garlic spread:
    3 cloves garlic, smashed 
    Heaped dessertspoon vegan spread -mixed together

    Spread the garlic, et, over the dough and roll it up tightly.

    Using a little flour and a rolling pin, flatten the dough and place it in the frying pan with a lid of some sort. Bake for 4 minutes each side - the colour should finish up a golden brown. 

    Not like this one...

    I baked it too long on both sides.

    Still tasted gorgeous, though!

    I made one for my neighbour - his verdict was, "Stunning!"

    Sometime back in 2011.
    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.