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, 26 October 2013


Friday 18th April

Saturday 8th Feb - Oscar is now 5 months old and beginning the weaning process:

Here he is enjoying a banana with his mum and dad.

Thursday 24th October 2013
Just returned from a wonderful visit with Oscar - and his parents, of course! :)

He's into his 8th week now, and visibly changing almost every day. 8lb at birth, he's now 12lb - and absolutely thriving, as these pics will show:

Sunday 13th October 2013

Granddad and grandson

This next sequence was taken over several minutes whilst Oscar was waking up after his sleep:

And here he is having a conversation with his mum. 

Sunday 29th September

Here's Oscar with my son, his uncle Ben:

Thursday 5th Sept 2013
Now we know - it's Oscar Charles, just hours old.

Monday 2nd Sept 2013
I'd like to announce that our wonderful daughter has just - less than an hour ago - given birth to a bouncing baby boy!

Her lovely husband called us with the news about an hour ago.

She went into the birthing pool, in Basingstoke Hospital, around 10pm yesterday, and we received the call just after 1.00 this morning. So the labour must have been about 3 hours or less!

Mother and baby are both doing well - in fact, the baby is now feeding!

The baby has still to be weighed - and there are no names yet.

I'll post these details as soon as they become available - hopefully with a pic.

We now have 4 grandchildren - 2 boys and 2 girls! How neat is that?

I started making bread (this is a breadmaking blog, after all!) earlier and earlier with each grandchild, so I reckon I'll have this new baker - I mean baby - I'll have this baby playing with dough by about 4-5 months old. And kneading dough by about a year old!

3rd Sept
As promised, here are some pics of the babe (no names, yet, but we live in hope!) who is, by common consent, the Most Beautiful Grandson in the world!

These were taken at about 14 hours old

Talk about fingers and thumbs…However, the reason I'm posting this pic is to show that my son in law had his chest waxed - so that he could maximise skin to skin contact. Respect!

3.64kg - 8lbs exactly! Probably the most embarrassing pic he'll ever have taken!
He's now 48 hours old and is a happy, healthy baby - with two loving parents, he's got every advantage going - except a name!

With two wonderful parents (not to mention 4 great grandparents), he doesn't yet realise just how lucky he is - and how lucky we all are!

After 3 days deliberation, we now know!

Can't wait to get to know you properly over the coming years, Oscar Charles!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Men's health - Incontinence

A couple of years ago I was admitted to hospital with a bladder infection, which meant I couldn't pee for 14 hours! shock 

A continence nurse friend of mine told me I should be doing the bladder muscle tightening exercise for about 20 minutes a day - but never whilst having a pee!

When doing this exercise, my default position is - muscle tightened. Every second or so I release this pressure for a split second, then tighten again as hard as I can. I do it when driving, surfing the net - can be done anywhere, of course.

I don't always stick to this regime - but after a couple of days, if I have to get up during the night, I get back on it quick smart! smile

I've told my group of friends about this - and they all report a lessening of nightly visits to the loo. One trick, if this bothers you - if you wake up in the night needing a pee, tightly clench the bladder muscles, pelvic floor or whatever, about 20 times, and often the need wanes and you can go back to sleep. 

This is only effective if you've been doing the daily exercises for a while.

About my infection - after a couple of days in hospital they sent me home with an incontinence bag for a week or so. My grandson, aged 6 at the time, was very intrigued by the whole paraphernalia. I explained as much about it to him as I thought appropriate.

One day he wasn't very well - and, feeling a bit sorry for himself, said to his mum, "I'm feeling poorly, mummy. I think I'll have to go to hospital and get a bag." 

grin grin

Of course we all fell about laughing!


Since 1 mug of flour requires 1/3rd of a mug of water, the ratio of flour to water is 3:1.

A full mug of flour is easy to judge, but 1/3rd of a mug of water is a bit more tricky. (The mug should be just under half full.)

(Fortunately, adding a little extra flour or water produces the required result – a soft, slightly sticky dough.)

Salt: Salt is not essential, but, if using it, a quarter of a teaspoon is about right. So the student needs to judge this amount.

Water: The temperature of the water is important – it should be blood heat, between 35-40C. 2 parts of cold water to 1 part of boiling water in a jug will achieve this, roughly. (I like to compare it with bath water! You don’t jump into a bath without checking the temperature first.)

Yeast: A rounded teaspoon of fresh yeast is dissolved into the water.

Dividing the dough into 8 pieces (to make rolls for instance). This means cutting the dough into halves (2), quarters (4) and 8ths (8).
1/3rd or 2/3rds  of a mug of water

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


27/4/11: Edited to include the right amount of flour.

This is a variation of Peshwari naan.
Straight from the hob
My daily breakfast
6 days of the week, this is my breakfast. The banana is mashed and spread (nay, slathered!) over the split naans. And every mouthful is a delight!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


After a neglectful summer with my chiminea, I had an email from someone asking how I assembled the 'mini-oven' inside the chiminea, to trap the heat - otherwise lost through the thin metal walls of the chiminea.

I replied that I'd go through the process this weekend - and follow through with pizza - taking lots of photos as I went.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


I was too slow to take a pic of the finished pie - everyone came back for seconds!
There are several advantages to using a bread dough instead of pastry - I think it's easier, for a start. It also doesn't need any fat as pastry does - so you're saving your wallet as well as your waistline!

The crust is wonderfully soft and scrummy! I guess it's the moisture of the filling seeping through that gives it this effect.

200g strong white flour 
1 or 2 dsp sugar
125ml lukewarm water 
1 rounded teaspoon yeast
Splash of olive oil (optional)

3 Bramley apples, chopped and simmered in a little water and 3 dsps sugar.

A 9-10" (23-25cm) baking tin, lined with baking paper.

1. Place the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, and mix to distribute the ingredients. Measure the water and stir in the yeast until it dissolves (dried yeast takes longer to dissolve than fresh). Add the yeast liquid to the dry ingredients, and 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. 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 and 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!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5. Or go straight to step 5.

5. When you are ready to proceed, take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place it on your worktop. This time, don't 'knock the dough back'! D
ivide it in two - one large piece and one small piece and roll them both out into circles to fit your baking tin. 

6. Place the larger of the two circles in the prepared baking tin and press the edges of the dough over the rim of the tin. Fill the pie with the apple filling (it doesn't matter if the dough is a bit hot, I've found), and place the lid on top of the filling. Use a sharp knife to trip the edges.

8.Cover and leave to prove until the dough has become puffy. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7, for about 10-12 minutes. Look for some colour under the pie.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


The other day, looking for something sweet to have after dinner, I made some flour and water pancakes. For my wife I included some sultanas - but my daughter doesn't like dried fruit, so I thought I'd try sweetening the batter with a little sugar.

4 dessertspoons self raising flour
2 dessertspoons sugar
About 8 dessertspoons of water.

Mix into a creamy batter, then add spoonfuls to a medium hot frying pan with a little oil.

[pics to come]

Result! My daughter thought they were fantastic, so I had to make more.