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.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


Friday 24th August 2012.
Last night I made 4 batches of dough (500g white flour, 5g salt, 325g water and 5g fresh yeast) which I used as a sponge. This morning, after breakfast, I divided each batch into two and to each I added 450g of flour, 5g salt, 275g water, 5g yeast and 20g oil - some from jars of sun-dried tomato (my preferred oil to add to pizza dough) and some EVOO. 

In all I made 31 pizzas during the day - 4 before lunch, 23 between lunch and dinner, and 4 after dinner. I made 22 cheese and tomato and 8 vegan - the extra one was a potato pizza for my wife.

I took the last pizza out of the oven just after nine tonight - job done!
Halfway through - balls of pizza dough ready to be rolled out, plus the two remaining batches of dough escaping the food storer - it was a particularly active dough

Two bog-standard cheese and tomato pizzas
Waiting to go in the oven
When you're making more than one pizza, it's best to work on them alternately - they roll out easier when they're rested.
I made all these in the small top oven. I can get four in at a time in the larger, bottom, oven, but I can't be sure the bottoms will be cooked. With the top oven I have an element above and below, which I can switch off individually. Much better, even though I can only get two at a time in there.

All I have to do now is flog 'em! Weather looks fine for Sunday, so that's all good, then!

 Thursday 23rd August 2012.
Just heard that the catering van, Posh Nosh, is unable to attend this year's trail. What a bummer! Apparently the cricket club is going to provide some teas, but not all that many.

I shall be making as many vegan and veggie pizzas as I can - but there's a limit to how many I can do. ATM, I'm aiming to make about 10 vegan pizzas and 20 veggie ones. I shall cut out all the fancy stuff - like sun-dried tomatoes in the base - which don't add a great deal to the pizza. They'll still be pretty tasty, though!

Tonight I'm going to knock up several batches of 'no-knead, overnight' dough (Method C) - and I'll set to tomorrow assembling the pizzas.

Plus, I'm going to make several vegan chocolate cakes so that I'll be able to offer something sweet.

Saturday 28th January 2012.
Plans are well advanced for this year's Ancestor's Trail. Looks like being the biggest yet - more music, more science.

I'm anticipating being there with my chiminea and my veggie/vegan pizzas as last year - but this time I intend to be organised enough to do most of the walk!

Sunday 29th May.

The day!

After yesterday’s marathon baking session I decided against doing the walk – I just wasn’t organised enough.

So I had a lie-in, spent the morning planning, writing signs, packing the car, etc.

I got to Kilve about 2.30, to find the access to the beach was locked – and the key was up on the Quantocks! Eventually, around 3.30 the key arrived and the padlock was duly unlocked. 

However, when we got round the corner to the pitch we’d previously identified, there were families playing football, flying kites etc, and generally having a great time in the sunshine.

The wind was also gusting quite a bit, so we made the decision to retire to the – much more sheltered, and quiet – cricket ground.

I lit the fire around 4.00pm and started loading up with charcoal around 4.15. A few walkers turned up around 5, so I decided to fill the firepit with charcoal and start baking when it was in full flow.

I’d brought some dough with me, and started shaping some sizzlers. I’d managed to make three batches by the time the first of the walkers arrived about 6.

I began getting a few enquiries, so I put the first pizzas in to reheat, whilst selling the sizzlers. 

Everything went rather well. It was simply a case of putting the pizzas in the chiminea for two minutes, taking them out and dividing them into four using scissors. I asked the customers to pick up a serviette and I handed them a piece of pizza. No one had to wait for more than two or three minutes.

I was so glad I’d decided to bake the pizzas yesterday. 

I didn’t have to worry about handling money - I had some sign saying ‘Donations welcome – suggested donation £1’. The customers sorted out their own cash, helping themselves to change if they needed it. A couple of times people handed over a fiver for 3 or 4 pieces, saying ‘Keep the change’. 

It all worked so well I didn’t need any assistance.

The vegans were especially appreciative that they were being catered for. It was very gratifying. Almost all were curious about the topping – mushroom pate, vegan pesto and a little passata with either nutritional yeast sprinkled over, or, as I had a enough vegan cheese for 2 of the pizzas, I grated that and sprinkled it over.

I made 23 pizzas, 17 cheese and tomato and 6 vegan. And when it was all over, I had 6 pizzas left – 5 c&t and 1 vegan. So I’d over-estimated, but not by that much. I’d probably make the same amount next time. The Peshwari naans were a waste of time - I only got rid of one! So I won't bother next  time. 

I took the grand total of around £90 so I subtracted £30 for my expenses and handed the rest over to the Ancestor’s Trail fund.

I had some very positive feedback about the pizzas. The words, ‘Fabulous’, ‘Wonderful’, and ‘Marvellous’ were bandied about. The base was especially commented on.

I gave a couple of the pizzas away, and the rest are in my freezer. Even at over 48 hours old they’ll still re-heat very well. Some of the customers were surprised to hear the pizzas were one-day old and 


- they thought they were freshly made.

So, it was very satisfying that all my goals were met. 
These were: 

o make sure that all the vegetarians and vegans who attended had something to eat (and in a reasonable timespan); and,

To turn over any profits to the Ancestor’s Trail.

Thanks for everyone’s comments and suggestions – they were very helpful.

Can’t wait for next year, now!

Saturday 28th May.

Spent all day baking. I used 300g of dough for each pizza and finished up with 23 pizzas; 17 cheese and tomato and 6 vegan (mainly mushroom pate and pesto).

First batch proving

First batch cooling

About halfway there!
This evening I made 8 Peshwari naans.

Now I have to pack them all up and get ready for tomorrow.

Began mixing and kneading 4 lots of dough. Recipe:
900g strong white flour
5 tsps bouillon powder
3 tsps mixed herbs
500g lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast
1 jar chopped s-d-tomatoes (about 140g)
All the oil from that jar (about 100g)
300g sourdough starter (200g water to 100g flour)
2000g of starter left overnight

10.38 The first batch

2nd batch at 11.02
3rd batch at 11.26

4th and last batch at 11.48
So, all the dough is made - each batch weighs roughly 2kg. I'll let it prove over the next couple of hours and start pizza making after lunch.

1.00am, Saturday 28th May.
Well I've begun my preparations already!

I've taken 400g of my sourdough starter, and increased it by 1500g - 500g flour and 1000g water. I'll use about a quarter of this in each batch of dough I make tomorrow.

I've also put 500g sultanas to soak, so they'll be nice and plump when I make my Peshwari naans.

My current thinking is this:

My planning so far has me making 15 pizzas on the Saturday which I can just flash in the chiminea on the day to finish them off. 

I shall also make an unknown number of sizzlers - as many as I can manage. And I've also thought I'd need something sweet - something I can make in the frying pan to take the load off the oven. So I'm going for Peshwari naan, which has gone down a bomb on other occasions. If I can make ten of those, that's 40 quarters.

I hope to log my progress - hopefully with some pics - as I go along.


Hi folks

I’d appreciate your collective advice…

I’m part of a group organising a walk ‘back into history’ over the Quantocks here in Somerset to celebrate 3.7 billion years of life on earth

We are expecting roughly 150 walkers to end up at Kilve beach, and, unfortunately, our catering company (Posh Nosh) has pulled out. At such short notice we’ve only been able to engage a company which specialises in venison and has nothing for vegetarians and vegans.

I’ve offered to cook something on my chiminea for this group.

I’d like to be able to cook pizzas, etc, on demand, but I have no confidence in my ability to do this in the timescale required. So I thought I would offer wraps (I call them sizzlers)

with various fillings: Cheese and tomato or mushrooms or onions or peppers.

Or cheese and onion slices:

Both of these can be turned upside down and cooked on both sides, which would speed up the process.

For vegans I would use combinations of mushroom pate, houmous, nutritional yeast (nooch), etc, along with the veggies mentioned above.

Keeping it simple, I thought that rather than setting a price on the above, I would just ask for a donation. I'll be asking for 50p each for the sizzlers and £1 for the slices - or whatever people can afford. It's not my intention to make a profit - anything over and above my expenses will go to the Ancestor's Trail.

I need to be sure I’ve covered all the bases, so here’s what I’ve considered, so far.

With 150 expected, I’m figuring that 10% of them would be veggie or vegan – so, 15 people. However, it may be that there are people who haven’t booked and who just turn up on the day – lovely weather, bank holiday weekend, etc. So there may well be up to 200 attracted to the occasion – which would mean about 20 veg/ans.

But also, since there is a strong ecological emphasis to the event (we’re promoting ‘The Year of the Butterfly’ this year), it may well be that there are a higher proportion of veg/ans coming along (15%?). So perhaps I should be looking to cater for 30 or so walkers. ATM, that’s what I’m figuring on.

These are all going to be hungry people – some of whom will have walked about 13 miles, arriving at Kilve at around 6 in the evening. 4 of my sizzlers (or the equivalent) would fill most folks up so I’m going to reckon on this many. (And there will be children as well, who won’t eat as much). So 30 x 4 = 120.

Each batch of 4 sizzlers would need:
200g of flour – (6kg, or 4 bags) – plus more for rolling out
50g grated Cheddar (1.5kg)
2 mushrooms or tomatoes or equivalent 
Black pepper, dried herbs

So I’ll need to make 6 batches of dough (using 1kg of flour at a time), each producing enough for 5 batches of sizzlers (20 individual sizzlers).

Assuming 5 minutes in the oven, 8 sizzlers at a time, that’s an hour and 15 minutes (with fire going at full blast).

The evening entertainment is due to commence at 7.30, at a venue 4 miles away, so, at the most, there’s a window of 90 minutes. (But the hungry hordes will want feeding long before that! I know I would.)

So, ATM, I’m thinking I shall start my preparations at around 4.00pm, and hope to have the first batch in at 4.30.

This is what I think I shall need in the way of equipment:
All my chiminea-tending gear, plus lots of charcoal, firewood, kindling, etc.
Large table, chopping board, knives, rolling pins, napkins, spatula
Oven trays, gloves, baking parchment
Supply of warm water (tricky, since I’m doing this on a fairly remote beach!)
Washing facilities (bowl of soapy water)
Hand towels, dish cloths

I shall also be giving away copies of the recipes of the breads I’m making, so I’ll need about 30 or so of these.

Thank you for reading this far, and if you have any advice for me, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers, Paul

Friday, 17 August 2012


As a vegan, I take flaxseeds as a source of Omega 3 - approximately 10g per day. Here's the Vegetarian Society factsheet on Omega 3.

Up to now, I've been including it in my bread rolls (about 80g of ground flaxseeds to 600g wholemeal and 100g white flour) and my spicy breakfast naan, but yesterday I made some bread rolls for my daughter, without flaxseeds - and I was surprised at how light the rolls were! It made me realise just how 'worthy' my daily bread was - in comparison with the rolls I made for my daughter, it's a lot heavier and denser.

So, if I was going to leave them out of my bread, I needed to find a way of incorporating the other 5g into my daily routine. I thought about mixing it up with some mashed banana and getting it all over in one mouthful, which I did - and it wasn't half bad! I'd always been a bit concerned about losing some of the benefits of the flaxseeds by cooking them, so this is perfect. In fact, in future, I'll leave it out of my breakfast naans as well, and take the whole 10g with mashed banana every morning.

This way I'll always know how much I'm getting - my previous method was a bit hit and miss, given that I'm now practicing a Calorie Restriction programme. Eating only 40g of bread or naan meant that I wasn't getting the full 5g of flaxseeds with each meal.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Healthy fruit and oat bar

50g wholemeal flour
50g oatmeal
50g each chopped dates, prunes and sultanas
50g broken cashew nuts
40g sesame and sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
75ml apple juice

1. Put the frying pan on low
2. Mix the spice in with the dry ingredients
3. Add the liquid and mix into a dough
4. Knead a few times to ensure the ingredients are mixed properly
5. Form into round and roll out into a circle as big as your frying pan – mine is about 22-25cm
6. Place in frying pan and turn the heat onto moderately low. Put lid on frying pan. (Or cover with a baking tray.)
7. Set timer for 8 minutes.
8. Turn over very carefully – it can be a bit fragile at this stage – and set timer for another 8 minutes.
9. Turn heat down to low and leave for another 7 minutes with lid off. Repeat with the other side.
10. Place on cooling tray for several minutes, then trim the edges and cut it into 6 bars, roughly 50g each, measuring roughly 10cm by 4.

They should be very crisp on the outside, slightly soft in the middle and hold their shape well.
The calorie count for the flour and oats – total 328 – is around 50.
I haven’t bothered to count the calories for the rest of the ingredients because they count towards your 5-a-day.

They contain:
No added fat
No refined sugar
No yeast

You can play around with this recipe as much as you want. Provided you keep to 100g of flour and around 75ml of liquid.
I think these are great for a mid-morning snack. The only problem I can see is restricting yourself to only 1 bar at a time!

I first made these a couple of years ago, and started a thread about them on the BBC Food message boards. Quite a few people came back and said how much they'd enjoyed them - check out the variations in msg Nr 12.