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.

Thursday, 30 January 2014


30th January 2014
It's been very remiss of me, but I still hadn't posted a pic of this bread - so here's a veritable portfolio!

The finished article! The bap(?) - a little thicker than I wanted
I've been extolling the virtues of this easy,versatile bread on this Local Mumsnet thread - and when one of the posters on there, blueyama, made it and asked, "Is this how it's supposed to look?" I realised that I simply have to get a photo of the bread on this.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

THAI CURRY PIE (vegan) - made with an enriched bread dough

(Calorie counted for a 5:2 diet)
Scrumptious, absolutely scrumptious!

Monday, 20 January 2014

MY BREADMAKING WEEK - starting 13/1/14

Began with a large granary-type loaf I made for my daughter which I almost ruined:

Split opening up from this end
Included 400g of melted yeast - scroll down to 14th January for the sad, sorry saga! :(

A missed #BreadChat. Unfortunately, these chats with other breadmakers around the world, on Twitter, are always held on Wednesday evenings - and I was teaching the first session of my evening class.

And went on to include a pie filled with Thai curry and made with a bread dough

Thai curry filling with chunks of tempeh. 

And, with both my community evening class and my family learning class, soda bread and fancy dinner rolls.

And spicy fruit naans,

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

FRESH YEAST - where to get it, and how to look after it!

A block - 800g - of fresh, baker's yeast

Where can I get fresh yeast?
Here in Taunton, Somerset, I get my fresh yeast from Sainsbury's supermarket - £2.30 for 800g, or 60p for 200g (3p for 10g), or 21p for 50g (4p/10g).

Tesco used to give it away, but has now stopped (however, I was in Tesco in Stevenage over Christmas and the baker gave me over 200g!);
Asda give it away; and,
Morrison's will tell you it's in the chiller cabinets, but it rarely is.

Small bakers where bread is baked on the premises are good places to try - and health food shops often stock it.

Other types of yeast:

Monday, 13 January 2014



200g (or 1 mug) strong white flour
1-2 dessertspoons sugar
50g sultanas
50g candied peel
Lemon zest
125ml (or 1/3rd mug) lukewarm liquid including a dessertspoon lemon juice
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 4 tablespoons olive oil

A sprinkle of icing sugar

  1. Place the flour, sugar, dried fruit, mixed peel and zest in a large mixing bowl. Measure the water and lemon juice and stir in the fresh yeast. Add the olive oil. 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).

  1. Hold the bowl with one hand and begin to mix with the other. Use one hand to turn the bowl round, whilst the other hand begins 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. 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.

  1. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – and stop before you get fed up!

  1. Take a large (800g) tin of fruit (or chopped tomotoes, or similar), emptied and cleaned, and line it with baking parchment with the paper extending above the tin. I place a circle of the paper, just a bit larger than the bottom of the tin at the bottom, then take a long, thin piece of paper, roll it up then drop it into the tin. Use your fingers to press it to the sides.

  1. Take the dough and shape it into a small baton then drop it into the tin. Leave to prove until it has doubled in size.

  1. Bake for between 20 and 25 minutes at 180C or gas mark 4 in the centre of the oven. But check after 15 minutes.

  1. Check the colour – it should be a lovely shade of yellowy brown; and an inserted skewer should come out clean when it is ready.

  1. Leave it in the tin for a few minutes before removing it and placing it – still in the baking parchment – to cool on a wire rack.

  1. Finally, when it is cool, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


[Still a couple of places left on this course - email me! You won't find a cheaper breadmaking course, anywhere!]

This is where I shall post everything about the course - planning, photo's of the breads we make, links to recipes, etc.

Here's the letter that's going out to students prior to the course:

Dear Student,

Breadmaking at Monkton Heathfield Community Hall, Heathfield Drive,
Monkton Heathfield,TA2 8PG, 7-9pm 15th January 2014

This letter sets out what I intend will happen in the first session and includes a list of ingredients and utensils which you will need to bring. If you are new to breadmaking, let me reassure you that it is much easier than you have been led to believe.

The session will begin in a relaxed fashion – the first thing you need to do is to find somewhere to park all the stuff that I ask you to bring, get yourself a drink and a stool to sit on. There is some necessary administration to complete, but we can go through this together. If you need any help with the forms I will be there to give you a hand, so there’s no need to worry. Bring a pen if you can remember, although I will have a couple to spare.

Before we start I’d like to spend some time finding out if you’ve had any experience in breadmaking, and what you expect to get out of the course, so that I can hopefully meet all your requirements.

The breads we will be making on the first evening are: Soda bread, and fancy dinner rolls.

Each week you will make 2 varieties of bread – most of them chosen by you and the other students. However, there are various techniques I want to cover, such as ‘No-knead, overnight bread’, using the cloche method, etc. You will be given the recipes for all the breads we make, plus general breadmaking hints and tips. My aim is for you to become a competent home baker (if you’re not already!), able to bake any bread you fancy.

Bring a large basket or a cardboard box to carry all your equipment and ingredients, and the finished products to take home with you!  Coffee or tea is available at 20p per mug – the kettle is always on. (Or bring your own, of course.)

I want to reassure those students new to breadmaking that my first aim for this course is for everyone to enjoy their learning – I always delight in these sessions, and it’s my job to see that everyone else does. Breadmaking is an easy, everyday craft – as you’ll come to realise (if you haven’t already)!

If you have any questions, doubts, suggestions at all, please don’t hesitate to ring or email me. I always enjoy making contact with my students before the course begins.

Finally, I’d like to 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 the word ‘Companion’ can be taken to mean, ‘Someone who makes bread with friends’. Which is what we shall be doing on these Tuesday evenings!

I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you on the course.

Course tutor

Shopping list:
500g strong white flour (own brand is fine)
500g strong wholemeal flour (if you want to make a wholemeal loaf or rolls)
Baking powder
Olive oil (optional)
10g fresh yeast (but I'll have plenty available)
Poppy or sesame seeds for the rolls (optional)

You will also need to bring:
An apron
A couple of tea towels, both to cover your dough whilst it's proving and to wrap any warm bread in to take home.
Baking paper (this is unlike ordinary greaseproof paper as it contains silicon)
Something to carry away the finished products (a large basket or cardboard box lined with tea towels would be ideal)

Monday, 6 January 2014


(For more breadmaking ideas, take a look at this post.)

Here I am on YouTube, demonstrating these.

Cheese and tomato (or mushroom) sizzlers (wraps)
(Makes 8 sizzlers):

400g strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
250ml lukewarm water
Splash of olive oil (optional)

(Or: 2 mugs of flour to 2/3rds water)

6 medium tomatoes or 8 mushrooms or a combination of these
150g grated Cheddar

1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then 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). Holding the bowl with one hand begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with your fingers. Check how the dough feels as you mix – it should stay soft and squidgy – and add more flour or water as needed. 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 the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

4. Divide the dough in two and put one piece to one side. Divide the first piece into 4 and form each piece into a bap shape. Flour the worktop and roll each piece out into a circle about 15cm across. As you roll out the dough, keep turning it and refreshing the flour, to make sure it isn’t sticking.

5. Slice the tomato and cut each piece in half and put them in a line across the middle of each circle. Sprinkle a little grated cheese over the tomato then fold the sides of the circle over the filling, leaving the sizzlers open at each end. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the other circles.

6. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

7. Leave to prove until the dough is risen and puffy and bake at 220C, 425F or gas 7 for about fifteen minutes. There should be some colour under the sizzlers to show that they are cooked right through.

When making these for the first time, a common tendency is to include more filling than is strictly necessary! You don't need a lot - they really are cheap and cheerful. Once you've made them a couple of times, you'll find what's best for you.

For 4 sizzlers use half of the ingredients.
Vary the cheese – Red Leicester or Lancashire, for example.
Use peppers or onions instead of tomatoes/mushrooms.

This dough will make two pizza bases, or a batch of rolls, or a smallish loaf, or – anything really!

Friday, 3 January 2014


This is a recipe I make often - and I make it differently every time, depending on what vegetables I have to hand - or flavours I have in the cupboard. However, I always include cumin seeds (which I lightly fry in a little oil, along with the curry powder, when I'm not doing the 5:2 version) and tinned tomatoes.

4g (1 teaspoon) cumin seeds - 15 cals
5g (1 teaspoon) curry powder - 8 cals

100g onion – 31 cals
250g celery - 20 cals
100g cabbage – 15 cals
150g red or green pepper - 48 cals
100g cauliflower – 31 cals
200 mushrooms – 26 cals

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed - 10 cals

400g tinned tomatoes - 76 cals 
10g bouillon powder – 24 cals

1 dessertspoon mushroom sauce - 15 cals
1 teaspoon mixed herbs 

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Total calories, 330 - 2 servings of 165 each


Dry fry the cumin seeds and curry powder on a low heat for a couple of minutes and then simmer the chopped veg in a little water until soft. Then add the tomatoes and flavourings.

Recently I've been adding a dessertspoon of soya sauce to my curries - gives it a deeper flavour, IMO.

If I'm eating up to my 600 calories, I'll have a baked potato with this - 72cals per 100g of raw potato.

But if I'm going for a very low calorie meal, I might have this with 100g of broccoli instead of a potato.

Here's my chilli non carne recipe. When I was fasting two days a week, I'd make the chilli for the Monday, then convert the leftovers into a curry by adding dry-fried cumin seeds and curry powder.