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.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


19th November 2013

Christmas Breadmaking Workshop, 10.00am - 4.00pm

23rd November at Hadspen Village Hall

Dear Student,

This letter sets out what I intend will happen during the day and includes a list of items which you will need in the session. If you are new to breadmaking, let me reassure you that it is much easier than you may have been led to believe. It is indeed, ‘easy peasy’! Oh, and it’s also a lot of fun, as you’ll find out!

The session will begin in a relaxed fashion – the first thing you need to do is to find somewhere at the side of the hall to park all your stuff, get yourself a drink and a chair to sit on round the tables in the middle.

Before we start breadmaking I’d like to spend some time finding a little about each other, and what you expect to get out of the day’s session so that I can better meet all your requirements.

Lunch. We’ll be eating around 12.30-1.00, and everyone will make their own. All you need to bring is a little cheese – say 50g – and a tomato or a mushroom.

Here’s the programme for the workshop as it stands:

1.     Soda bread focaccia
2.     Potato pizza - lunch
3.     Xmas loaf
4.     Mince pies/tarts/doughnuts
5.     Fun with mincemeat
6.     Stuffed mushroom en croute and grissini

I have a blog, which I call “No bread is an island”, in which I write about – among other things – my teaching practice. On here I’ve started a post, “Hadspen breadmaking”, which contains all (most) of what you need to know about the course, including my planning:

Keep an eye on this, if you can – and check out the many recipes on the blog, including those for the breads I’ve already mentioned.

If you’re interested in sourdough, I’ll have some of my sourdough starter with me. Bring along a container – a small jar would be fine – if you’d like to take some home with you.

I have several aims for this course, one of which is that everyone should enjoy himself or herself! Another is that everyone will make good bread. At any time during the day the kettle can go on for a mug of tea or coffee. Cost 20p.

I'm sorry if this all sounds a bit daunting. Please let me assure you that it will all fall into place quite easily. If you have any suggestions, (or concerns) at all, please don't hesitate to contact me, I'm always very happy to talk to my students about bread.

Finally, can I draw your attention to the word ‘Companion’? The ‘com’ part means together – as in community – and the ‘pan’ part of the word means bread. So ‘Companions’ are people who make bread together! Which is what we shall be doing over this Saturday!

Best regards,

Paul Youd (Course Tutor)

You will need to bring:
Several tea towels, both to cover your dough whilst it's proving and to wrap any warm bread in to take home.
Something to carry away the finished products (a large basket or cardboard box lined with tea towels would be ideal)
Mug for hot drinks
Sourdough container (if you’re interested in this)

You can also bring the following items – but they’re not essential:
Kitchen timer (if you have one)
Set of measuring spoons
Any favourite cooking utensil – sharp knife/scissors are always useful
Your favourite baking tray
Your favourite weighscales

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


There was a request on Mumsnet for advice about making pizzas with a kids club.

Since I make bread with kids all the time, I responded with some tips - which I thought might be handy for anyone else in that situation. So here's my reply:

That's exactly what I'll be doing tomorrow morning - and it's what I did last year at this children's centre.

Only we've got just 90 minutes instead of two hours! [smile]

Some tips:
Plain old cheese and tomato topping is fine;
Use fresh yeast if you can get it - Sainsbugs will sell it to you for 60p for 200g (at the bakery counter). The bread rises faster, I find, than when using dried yeast;
Use a dessertspoon of yeast (teaspoon if using dried). (Both will dissolve quickly in the lukewarm water - fresh quicker than dried.) The more yeast you use, the quicker the bread will rise.
Place the rolled out pizzas on some baking parchment before adding topping;
Nick off a piece of dough to form an identifying initial or number. If you look carefully at the pizzas on my blog you'll see an initial on each of them;
Accept as much help as you can get - many hands make light work and all that;
Don't forget to allow for clearing up time afterwards;
Have some scissors to snip a piece of pizza off for the kids to sample - easier than a p/cutter.
Don't forget bags to take the rest home! 

Please don't stress about it - you'll have a great time, and so will the kids! I'm never sure who gets more out of these sessions, me or the kids!

Feel free to come back to me if you need more info. I'd encourage anyone to get involved in teaching cookery to kids.

Best wishes

I post on several food forums and I'm always surprised a the disparity between the expertise shown on show and the

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A 'must-listen-to' lecture on 'schools in the cloud' by Prof. Sugata Mitra

Part of BBC Radio Three's 'Freethinking' series.

"Educational researcher Sugata Mitra is the winner of the 2013 TED Prize. His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another."


Absolutely fascinating!

Friday, 1 November 2013


Alex with his fancy dinner rolls. As can be seen by the identification number  10 (top right), Alex was my 10th customer. His sister Holly also made a batch of rolls.
Sunday 27th October 2013
Just a quick note to say that the day went well - I was told the fair had been a resounding success and that mine had been the busiest stall of them all - out of about 15-20 stalls altogether.

I had a total of 25 customers: one was a real expert, one or two had made bread before and several had breadmaking machines - but mostly they were complete beginners. They were of all ages from 3 to over 80 and there was a 50-50 split between women and men.

I gave them a choice of a simple, quick soda bread, which would take about 15 minutes, or a batch of fancy dinner rolls or freeform shapes, which would be ready after about 30 minutes. Once again the choice was half and half.

The recipes we were following:
Soda bread
1 mug self raising flour (this contains the right amount of raising agent)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3rd mug water
(Cost around 5p)

Bread rolls

1 mug strong bread flour 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3rd mug water
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast (this is a lot, I know, but it meant the bread rose quickly)
(Cost 9 or 10p)