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, 9 February 2013


For anyone following the 5:2 WOE (way of eating), veggies are your friends! 

Basically this recipe is 6-800g of low calorie veg (whatever’s in season, mainly), with added red kidney beans. I have half of this with a diced vegan sausage plus a small baked potato and maybe some broccoli. The other half is for my second fast of the week - generally on a Wednesday.

In a small pan I put 2cms of water (I try and use saved vegetable cooking water) and a teaspoon of chili powder. Then I add, in no particular order, the chopped veg. Here’s what I used recently for my 2 fasting days:

155g celery - 12 cals
95g onion – 31 cals
115g cabbage – 15 cals
64g carrot -19 cals
100g cauli – 31 cals
115 mushrooms – 15 cals
200g red kidney beans – 254 cals (I cook 500g of dried r-k-beans, then freeze them, so I always have them to hand)
200g tinned tomatoes - 38 cals
10g bouillon powder – 24 cals
1 teaspoon chili powder - 8 cals
1 teaspoon mixed herbs - 0 cals

Total 450 calories. 

I measured this out onto two side plates (I use a side plate instead of a dinner plate these days) and it came to 7 large serving spoons – but I only used three yesterday, since that filled up the plate.

So, 450 divided by 7 = 65 - multiplied by 3 = 195 calories for the veg

To this I added a Fry’s vegan sausage, chopped into small pieces – 58 cals 
I had this with 120g microwaved potato – 86 cals

If you're not worried about calories, then I recommend seitan chunks instead of the sausages.

So my meal came to 339 calories - and I had it with a small glass of red wine (50g - 44 cals)

So, altogether the calorie count was well under 400 calories.

I vary the amount of r-k-beans depending on how many calories I have to play with. This dish works perfectly well with 100g of beans.

You could leave out the beans and sausage and make a very acceptable veg curry – I would probably fry the curry powder in a teaspoon of oil (16 cals)

I’m always full after this meal – especially if I have some broccoli with it.

Ps. I often use up the spare calories by having 100g of homemade stout before the meal - only 43 calories

Friday, 8 February 2013

5:2 DIET - VEGAN CARROT CAKE (134 cals/slice)

(For those who aren't sure what the 5:2 diet is, there's a great deal of info here on this thread)

120g s/r flour
120g sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
80g grated carrots
40g vegetable oil
40g mashed banana
120ml water

       Preheat the oven to 180C

       Measure the flour, sugar, spices,carrot and walnuts - stir to distribute 

       Add the oil, mashed banana and water to the mix and stir – initially with a large spoon or spatula, then with a whisk
       Pour into an oiled and lined 18cm (7” inch) baking tin or cake tin
       Put in the oven and cook for between 30-35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
       Leave on a cooling rack in the tin for ten minutes
       Turn out on to the cooling tray

Calorie count:
120 flour = 355 x 1.2 = 426

120 sugar = 400 x 1.2 = 500

Spices = 6 + 3 + 4 = 13

40 oil = 900 x .4 = 360
40 banana = 38

Total= 1337

The cake weighed 424g after baking, so, dividing it into 10 pieces, each 42g piece will contain 134 calories

Sunday, 3 February 2013


200g strong white flour
1/4 tsp salt
50g creamed coconut (grated)
25g black onion seeds
125ml yeast liquid, including 1 tsp fresh yeast
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Splash of olive oil (optional)

1. Place the yeast in a measuring jug, add lukewarm water up to 125ml and stir to dissolve.

2. Measure the dry ingredients and place them in a large mixing bowl with the yeast liquid and oil if using. 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 table knife. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use one hand to turn the bowl round, whilst the other hand begins to squeeze the mixture together. Make sure the dough stays soft - don’t be afraid to add more water. 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 – but stop before you get fed up!

4. Table naan: Roll out the dough into a large square. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave to double in thickness.

5. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for 10-15 minutes. Check after 7-8 minutes. Turn it over if necessary to ensure the bottom is coloured enough.

4. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece out to about 10cm by 15cm (4" x 6"). Place on grill pan and leave to rise appreciably. Brush with oil or water and sprinkle with sesame seeds before grilling. Keep a close eye on them when grilling because they can swell up and begin to burn if you’re not careful. Turn over after 2 or 3 minutes, brushing them with oil once more. Go to step 5.

I like the idea of a table naan with everyone tearing off a piece. With individual naans, I don’t bother with a teardrop shape – that comes from sticking the dough to the inside of a tandoori oven, which we don’t have.

Many recipes call for yoghurt, which I don’t use. If you wanted to use some, substitute, say, three tablespoons of yoghurt (possibly a bit more if the yoghurt's quite thick) for three of water.

Here are two other naan bread recipes - Peshwari naans and spicy fruit naans.

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Last night we had some friends over for an Indian meal – from our favourite Indian takeaway, The Miriam in Taunton.

I saw this as an excuse to make one of my favourite breads – a Peshwari naan.

I made it with yeast, took one third, and rolled it out to fit my cast-iron frying pan which I placed on a low heat (I figured we’d be eating this one quicker). I divided the remaining piece into three, rolled them out fairly thinly, and put them to prove. I turned the oven onto 220C.

After about ten minutes I turned the one in the frying pan over, increased the heat and cooked it for a further 4 minutes.

When the oven was warm I put the naan breads in for a brief minute to get a burst of heat. After a further ten minutes, they’d risen enough to go in the oven.

I gave them 6 minutes and turned them around on the baking tray so the outside of each naan was now facing inwards.

After another 6-7 minutes they were ready and the guests began to arrive.

They all agreed that the oven-baked ones were superior to the frying pan naan – which I put down to the fact that the oven-baked ones didn’t have to be turned over and were therefore lighter.

If I hadn’t been using the oven I would have started them in the frying pan and finished them off under the grill.

Here’s the recipe (which I increased by a half):

Peshwari naan
I use two different methods to make this – one of my most popular breads. I originally made it as a quick bread, using self-raising flour and done in a frying pan (baked in an oven it is not as moist). Now I often do it using a yeast risen dough, baked in the oven and also in a frying pan – both are good. Any dried fruit will do, but dried apricots - the unsulphured ones - make it special.

Quick bread recipe
200g self-raising flour (or you can use plain flour with 2 tsps of baking powder mixed in – self raising flour’s just easier)
1/4 tsp salt
1 or 2 tsps curry powder
1 dsp sugar
50g grated creamed coconut
100g dried apricots, chopped small
Medium onion, finely chopped
125ml water
Olive oil

The secret of any quick bread is to have everything ready beforehand. So oil a large frying pan and put it on medium heat. Mix dried ingredients and measure liquids. When everything is ready, add the water and oil and stir it quickly into a dough. Be ready to add more water or flour if needed. Take it out, shape it into a flattened ball and, after flouring your worktop, roll out into a circle the size of your frying pan. Place it in the frying pan.
They should take about 4-5 minutes each side to bake. When the first one is ready, slide it onto a cooling rack, re-oil the frying pan and carefully place the second naan into it.

Yeast bread recipe
200g strong white flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 or 2 tsps curry powder
1 dsp sugar
50g creamed coconut (grated)
100g dried apricots, chopped small
Medium onion, finely chopped
1 dsp fresh yeast
125ml lukewarm water
Splash of olive oil

Place dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour the lukewarm water over the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the olive oil. Mix into a dough, adding more water if needed. Knead for about a minute or so to distribute the ingredients properly.
Using the frying pan, follow the instructions as above.
Oven baked, roll out to a size that will fit your baking sheet, place on the lined baking sheet and leave until the dough becomes puffy.

Bake at 200c/425F or gas 7 for approximately 12 minutes. Check for some colour underneath to see if it is cooked properly.

I make a version of this, 'Spicy fruit naan', (incl. pic) which I have daily for breakfast, spread with mashed banana.