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.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My Daily Bread (4)

This is the 4th post with this title. The first, begun in February 2011, was fairly long - and the second, begun in May, was even longer. The third was more restrained, lasting around 5 weeks.

I try to start a fresh post once a month.

In these posts I chronicle my daily breadmaking 'adventures'. In truth they mainly detail the various breads I make in a working week - and those I make at home. But occasionally,  as in the wood-fired oven pizza events I run occasionally, or the Occupy Bristol workshop I held this week, it truly is an adventure - in that I'm never sure how these things are going to pan out.

My intention is always to link to breads mentioned in this post - but I don't always manage this. However, 99% of the time, if you put the name of the bread in the 'Search this blog' box, you'll be directed to the recipe.

(To keep this post on the top of the page, I shall date it a week or so in advance)

Friday 27th January.
Pizza and iced buns with the Family Learning group this morning:

[Pic to come]

Then more iced buns with my year 3 group.

Finally, in the afternoon, I made iced buns again with my fortnightly care home group, where I received some bad news! After 10 years I've been told they can no longer afford me. I've been given a months notice, but, at the end of February - that's it!

Thursday 26th January.
Made several 'Banoffee' breads today at Longrun - one with a twist! ;)

Together with one of the students we rolled out the dough in two long strips and placed melted Mars bar down the middle of each:

You have to work fast - the Mars bar solidifies fast!
Place banana over the chocolate/toffee mixture
The dough was then folded over the filling, forming tubes, which are then twisted together.

The one on the left contains just melted Mars bar - the second one has the banana as well. Then there are a couple of  'normal' banoffee loaves, whilst at the top there are some cheese breadsticks and a couple of cheese rolls 

Here's a slice of  the banoffee twist
As well as these I conducted an experiment into 'fatless' cakes. After the success of my vegan chocolate cake I began to wonder  about the oil in the cake. Apart from acting as a preservative - what was it for?

So I thought I'd make a cake using banana, which I'd often heard about as an ingredient in cakes - generally as an egg substitute - instead of oil.

I made the usual amount, dividing it between two 7" cake cases, and they only took about 15 minutes. They didn't rise as much, but it was recognisably cake and jolly tasty, I thought. Perhaps a bit 'rubbery' in texture. But if you want to cut down on your fat intake, here's a good way to do it and still eat cake!

If I'd have sandwiched this cake with a bit of jam and added chocolate icing, I reckon the comments would have been even more favourable!
I tested it out on a few colleagues, and, apart from the ones who didn't like banana, comments ranged from "Very nice" to "It's OK." Whatever, it's another option. 

Next time I might try it with oil and banana half and half, or use apple puree. Seems this is a very adaptable cake!

In the afternoon session we made curried, sweet, naan breads - two with onion and one, Matt's, without. I'm really annoyed I forgot to take any photos, because the onion ones were a real picture. Next time! 

Wednesday 25th January.
Delivered a session for Wellington Children's Centre - the first of three - this morning with a small group. Each family made a batch of dough -  and made a variety of shapes. A great time was had by all. Hopefully there will be a few more next week as words spreads.

Tuesday 24th January.
I was invited along to deliver a breadmaking session on a Healthy Living course in Bridgwater this morning - 6 parents (including one dad) and 7 year one students. 2 of the mothers were breadmakers - one had been on a course with me about 5 years ago with an older child.

We made the usual 'Original playdough' with the children making a variety of shapes. The parents were very keen and interested - the non-breadmakers thinking beforehand that making bread was difficult and having their preconceptions blown away.

Parkin update: Still improving!

Monday 23rd January.
Tried another piece of the parkin last night - definitely getting more parkin-like! And had another piece this evening - getting better by the day. 

Need to make a dozen rolls tonight - I'm right out of bread.

There's been a discussion on the BBC Food boards about crumpets and pikelets, which inspired me to revisit my recipe and make some for breakfast this morning. Full story and pics here.

Here's a pic to whet your appetite!

Saturday 21st January.
On the back of the vegan chocolate cake I've been making, I wanted to reproduce the Lancashire parkin I grew up with.

So here it is:

This is the only decent-sized cake case I have. 
It's not yet the parkin of my youth, but it's jolly tasty all the same. Here's the recipe.

It's a work in progress, i need to tweak the recipe quite a bit - but I'm on my way!

Friday 20th January.
Broke the habit of a (teaching) lifetime today, by including a cake recipe in a  breadmaking session. This was in my Family Learning group at Halcon Primary School, 2nd session of 5. I did it firstly because it is so cheap - at today's prices this cake costs 73p - and because it's so very easy to make. I forgot to turn the oven on before we started, so the cakes went into a cold oven, which didn't seem to make any difference. I didn't have enough large cake cases, so we divided one into two - small ones took about 30 minutes, but the large ones took forever - about an hour, including time for the oven to warm up. I've never cooked more than one at a time, so having an oven-full obviously affected the cooking time.

Each family also made a loaf of bread:

Thursday 19th January.
Farthing buns and fruit croissants in the first session at Longrun House today.

The buns are basically a layered fruit dough rolled out into a rough square then cut into slices a la noughts and crosses. The fruit croissants are just that - croissants made with a fruit dough:

Croissant dough - 3 x 4 x 4 - 48 layers, then rolled out and rested

Rolled out a bit longer, then cut into triangles

Rolled up and placed on tray

Baked and given a sugar glaze
The crumb, showing the layers
The farthing buns are much simpler, just rolled out, covered with sunflower spread (in this case), folded into 3 one way, then 3 the other and rolled out into a rough square, then cut into buns.

These were not quite done underneath, so they went back in the oven for a couple of minutes
Ready for a sugar glaze
In the afternoon session we used up some leftover mashed potato with some grated cheese and curry powder and made pasties and parathas:

A selection of the cheese and potato bread we made today. Pasties at the top, then some of Matt's parathas, with curry in the dough as well as in the filling, then a couple more parathas + a half-eaten one!
Wednesday 18th January.
Preparing for Friday's Family Learning session I needed to make a chocolate cake using cups rather than metric measurements.

Knowing that my students are unlikely to have measuring cups, I used a small plastic beaker, weighing the ingredients as I added them. The recipe they'll take away with them will have both cup and metric measurements:
1 and a quarter cups of self-raising flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 dessertspoons of cocoa powder
1 cup of cold water
1/3rd cup of sunolive oil

This translated into:
165g self-raising flour

220g granulated sugar
2 dessertspoons of cocoa powder
235g cold water
71g sunolive oil

These were mixed together and the cake was baked at 180C for 40 minutes.

This works out at 73p for a cake weighing 635g.

Noticed, whilst shopping at Sainsbury's, that basic self-raising and plain flours had gone up from 52p to 69p - a 32% increase!

Saturday 14th January.
Made a dozen pizzas (2 of them vegan) for a family party.

Friday 13th January.
New Family Learning course started this morning. They made both plain and fruited soda bread loaves.

Next week they've asked if they can make loaves - and my vegan chocolate cake. I'd taken in a sample, which went down very well.

In the afternoon in my fortnightly care home we made jam doughnuts and a chocolate spread twist.

Thursday 12th January.
Had a go at these Speculaas rolls at Longrun, today. I mixed the marzipan with Benedictine instead of egg - but, on reflection, the marzipan was soft enough anyway. I wonder if the egg prevents the marzipan from melting?

Leaked out marzipan all round the rolls

But the rolls were still very tasty. Also made chocolate and banana loaves
I wasn't able to get the spices necessary for this bread - used a mix of mixed spice, coriander and white pepper.

2nd attempt on the Speculaas rolls, along with more C&B loaves and Matts curried focaccia with olives on top.
I shaped the 2nd batch by only making 4 cuts, and then folding each 'lobe' so that the cuts only face upwards and nipping the edges together.

Saturday 7th January.
Had the first pizzas of the year in my chiminea today - even though I was scratching around trying to find enough charcoal!

Story and pics.

Saturday 31st December.
Been a bit neglectful of this blog recently. I've been away for Christmas and I'm only now getting back into the swing of things.

Apart from this, I've begun a blog on another of my passions - early development. This is necessarily going to take up some of the time I've been devoting to bread - but obviously, it's far more important!

For Christmas lunch I made a vegan haggis en croute which was delicious [Have pics which I'll post shortly]

Friday 30th December.
I took along much of the stuff I'd bought for Xmas loaves and got rid of most of it in a couple of batches of - well, sliced Xmas loaf is all I can think of to call it [pic to follow]

One of them contained chocolate covered marzipan, yellow and green cherries, pieces of dark chocolate and orange and citron candied peel!

Thursday 29th December.
Breadmaking at Longrun House - made several pizzas in the morning session. In the afternoon, as a sort de-luxe pain au chocolat, Eric and I used some Roses chocolates from a large tin one of the parents had brought in for the staff - and we made a seeded flower loaf.

Tuesday 20th December.
This afternoon I played crib with some friends of mine. I've been thinking a lot about no-knead, overnight bread these days, with a view to incorporating it into my classes. So, to get a feel of how it would work, I asked my friends to bring a plastic container to take away a batch of dough each. 

I took along some dough I'd mixed up in the morning and demonstrated folding and shaping the dough using oil. It only took a couple of minutes - and I finished up by chafing the dough and placing it on some baking parchment.

My friends all mixed up the dough

 [More to come on this!]

Finished all my classes - at least until Thursday the 29th - which allows me to catch up on here.

Starting with my classes at my Thursday care home, Longrun House, Taunton. In the first session we made several Christmas loaves:

The number of cherries denote whose loaf it was

A slice from one of the loaves

Monday, 30 January 2012

Breadmaking at Glebe Primary School

As regular readers of my blog will know, I'm in the habit of occasionally visiting my grandchildren's schools to make bread with them and their classmates. They've recently moved schools, and last year I made some bread with Alfie, my 6-year-old grandson and his class.

Since November, 8-year-old Olivia has been trying to organise a similar session - but Christmas got in the way, and it's only now that we've been able to manage it.

It finally got underway this morning, and, in two sessions - first the boys, then the girls - all 29 children in the class made a batch of bread rolls.

Here are some pics I took of the session. I'm not allowed to show faces, but they do give an idea of the activity and the results:

The dough is mixed and the children are kneading or beginning to make their shapes. Those are my demonstration shapes in the middle of the table. 

And here are the results:

Whole lot of shaping going on! (Sorry!)

The boys were more into hedgehogs...

...whilst the girls were more into hearts.

The rolls were placed on their identifying bags to be collected later

I have to say I received great support from Karen (TA) and Mrs Flowers (returning teacher?) - they helped enormously!

Later in the evening I received a lovely email from the class teacher:

Hello Paul

Just a quick note to say thank you so much for this morning.
The children all enjoyed themselves and were thrilled when
they had their rolls at the end of the day. I've eaten two

as well* and they were very nice. 


Which was much appreciated!

*Of my demo rolls, which I left for the staff. Wouldn't want anyone to think that Janice was pinching the children's rolls! :-)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Occupy London LSX Breadmaking workshop

Sunday evening, 29th January.
Well, 'The best laid schemes...' and all that.

Suffice it to say it didn't happen. I wasn't expected - even though the workshop was on their web page - and no-one I could find knew anything about it. The kitchen had no spare capacity, with only two burners, both in use. So I gave up on St Paul's.

However, one of the group told me I may get a better reception at Occupy Finsbury Square, a 20 minute or so walk away. So, given directions, off I went.

And it was the same story here - no joy!

I'd wasted my time, really. After the success of my experience with Occupy Bristol I thought it would be even better in London, but it was not to be.

Still, looking on the bright side, I was now the proud possessor of an Oyster card, I'd had a couple of enjoyable trips on the tube, and I'd had a brisk walk through part of London. Also I managed to avoid Starbucks, finding a Cafe Nero instead.

I've come to the conclusion that if I'm to do this properly I'll have to provide my own heating unit - which I don't have at the moment. And I'd have to make much better contact with the group I'm hoping to work with.

Saturday 28th January.
Plans are all in place for this session in the morning - at Tent City University, St Paul's.

I've been planning this for the past couple of weeks, but, the night before, I'm never sure if I've covered every eventuality.

I need to be at West Ruislip tube station by 9.00am to be sure of getting to St Paul's on time. I've a rucksack packed with strong and s/raising flour, dried fruit, lentil and potato dahl, chocolate spread, mincemeat; plus mixing bowls, jugs, rolling pins - oh, and an apron, mustn't forget that,

I'm a bit unsure of what I'll find there - I've had one tenuous contact who has told me the session is booked, but as to what facilities are available, I don't have much of a clue.

However, these things have a way of working out, and I'm sure I'll have a great experience to look back on.

I'll certainly post all the details of the session on here, tomorrow evening, hopefully with pics!