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.

Sunday 30 March 2014


OK, a star instead of a cross - just for fun!
Out for a game of bridge this evening – we’re all beginners, but it’s great fun – which meant I couldn’t have my usual pre-dinner pint and a glass of wine with the meal, since I would be driving.

During the evening I enthused about my latest favourite bread – Italian soda bread, which I had made over the weekend whilst staying with my daughter. I made it on the Sunday evening, and, since I was fasting after dinner, I was unable to taste it until Tuesday lunchtime. Made with simple ingredients – Sainsbury’s basic self-raising flour and Lidl’s EVOO, it was full of flavour.

On my return home tonight I thought I deserved a drink, so I poured half a pint of beer and the soda bread was still on my mind. I knew I could knock one up very quickly, so that’s what I did. I thought that if the white flour version was tasty, a soda bread made with wholemeal flour should be even tastier. Accordingly, I took out a bag of ‘Park Mill, Bateman’s Strong, Stoneground wholemeal flour’ I'd acquired, and made it with that + plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

It was in the oven within 5 minutes and took 20 minutes to bake. The result was a loaf weighing about 350g and would have cost around 28p if I’d have used own-brand wholemeal bread flour at £1.50/1.5kg or 34p if I’d used my usual bread flour, Doves Organic wholemeal. Whatever, this bread is cheap!

So what about the flavour? Well, I was expecting it to be much more flavoursome than the loaf made with white self-raising flour, and maybe it was. But, since I’d rather eat wholemeal for health reasons, this was well worth doing.

Here’s the recipe:
200g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
125g (or ml, they’re both the same) cold water
25g extra virgin olive oil.

Mix together into a soft squishy dough, knead (flatten and fold) several times, then flatten out into a circle about 2.5cm thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and cut a cross into the dough almost all the way through. Soda bread is a bit denser than yeast-risen dough and this allows the heat to get to the middle of the loaf easier.

Bake at 220C for 15-20 minutes. Look for a good colour underneath. It’s done when a skewer passed through the thickest part of the loaf comes out clean – or, when it breaks apart cleanly. Wrap in a tea-towel until it cools, to give you a softer crust.

Oh, what about the chilli, I hear you ask! Well, I had a sixth of the loaf with a couple of dessertspoons of chilli non carne leftover from dinner - along with half a pint of stout and about an inch of wine. And very nice it was too. 

I no longer feel guilty about eating at night - since I no longer have breakfast, this evens itself out! :)

Update, 4 days later:
I ate the last of this loaf this lunchtime - at four days old it was still OK. Probably best to eat it by the third day, but if it goes over into a fourth day, it still won't be stale!

Monday 3 March 2014


My fast day dinner today comes in at 94 calories - a new low! (Recipe further down this post.)

I made a few tweaks - leaving out the cumin seeds and substituting asafoetida and mushroom sauce instead of soy sauce. I toyed with the idea of only using half a tin of tomatoes, since the curry already tasted wonderful before any tomatoes were added. In the event I added the whole tin, not wishing to bother with the faff of having a dish of tomatoes hanging round in the fridge.

Weirdly, the smell is making my juices run - but I'n not in the least bit hungry, despite not eating since 7pm last night (it's now 5.30pm). 

I’ve just set an all-time record low (for me) for a fast day meal – just a simple veg curry, but it was so tasty and full of flavor and completely filled me up. Here are the ingredients I used - over here for the method:

5g cumin seeds and 5g curry powder dry fried for a couple of minutes – 10 cals
63g onion, finely chopped 20 cals
171g dark green cabbage, cut into strips 22
53g carrots, sliced 15
151g celery, cut into chunks 12
184g mushrooms, cut into chunks 24
400g chopped, tinned tomatoes 82
10g soy sauce 10

Total 195 calories. Divided in two this gave me 4 large serving spoons of curry – so, 98 calories altogether!

This left me very well fed, and, by staying away from the kitchen for a good half hour, I avoided adding anything else.

I’ve found, over the 2 years I’ve been practicing IF, that if I do stick to just a low calorie dinner, I’ll be satisfied with that. If I add beans or a microwaved potato, I find I want to push myself up to the 600 calories that, as a bloke, IF allows.

This fast, however, was a little different from my usual fasts, which generally begin with my final bite of dinner the day before. This time, not planning to fast today, I ate half a bar of Lindt’s Chilli Chocolate at around 10pm. So my fast didn’t really start until then! However, strictly speaking, that was only 275 cals – so, with my 98 for dinner today, I’ve had 373 calories in the last 27 hours, well below the magic 600 figure!

I decided to fast today since I skipped breakfast, as I often do, and found myself travelling back home over lunch time – so it just made sense to fast today, and have a Sunday dinner tomorrow!

This curry is an excellent basis for a range of further dishes - chilli non carne - lasagne (layered with potato instead of pasta - simply glorious!) - vegetarian Bolognese sauce - rich ragu pie, and many more. All these are to be found in the link below.

For all the 5:2 fasting vegetarian/vegan dishes on my blog, click here.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Today I'm celebrating two years of Intermittent Fasting!

Thursday 27th February
I began Intermittent Fasting exactly 2 years ago, on the 27th February 2012 - to celebrate, I thought I'd put on record just how those two years of IF have affected me.

I can honestly say I have never felt so well. Even when I was in the forces and pretty fit, I never had the feeling of well-being and zen-like calm (most of the time!) that I have now.

Thanks are due mainly to the wonderfully supportive 5:2 fasting threads on Mumsnet (here's the current one), the very similar 5:2 Fast Diet forum, and the good Dr Mosley's Horizon programme - I'm now at my correct weight, losing 24lbs by October 2012.