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.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Wednesday 20th November 2013
Another lovely session with 4 families attending. This time we made pain au chocolat, jam and mincemeat doughnuts and jam and mincemeat tarts.

The table before we start - mincemeat, jam and chocolate at the ready. The only equipment needed is a bowl, a beaker and a teaspoon for each family. Beakers in bowls so that any flour spillage is collected in the bowl.

15 minutes later - dough made and rolled out - circles cut out, turned into doughnuts and tarts

The beakers double up as cutters
The two small rolls in the middle are pain au chocolat. The chocolate pieces are halved chocolate squares from Lidl's Fair Trade range. Lovely dark chocolate costing £1.00/100g - bargain!

Noah's bread


Michelle's bread with one pain au chocolat missing already - but it was her birthday!

Kelly's bread. She came to the session a bit late and only had time to make the pain au chocolat. Shame! :)

Michelle and her birthday loaf - which contained, from  left to right, mincemeat, chocolate and jam

Here's a close-up of Michelle's bread - I'll turn it right side up when I get a moment.
[More to come]

Wednesday 13th November 2013
Much better turnout this time - making pizzas and sizzlers. 5 families turned up - with 2 dads and 3 mothers.

Once again, busy tables with lots of activity - this time I remembered to take a few pics, both of the proving dough and of the finished article.

The sizzlers were filled with either mushroom and cheese or tomato and cheese. depending on preference - and they're proving on top of the ovens to take advantage of the heat. 

They don't need to prove for long, since there is about 10g of fresh yeast to 150g of flour they rise pretty fast. But, since we only have an hour and a half for the whole session, there's no time to waste.

Some of the finished bread - could have taken Noah's pizza out a couple of minutes earlier, though! :(

Next week we'll be making pain au chocolat and jam doughnuts - probably I'll bring some mincemeat as well to make 

Wednesday 6th November 2013

The first of three visits this month to this Children's Centre I've visited several times before.

"It's a new group, so we're not sure how many will come" said Kelly, the organiser. And, in the event, two families came, one mum with two children and a dad with one - all of the children under 2 years old.

For the first session, we made bread rolls, which, with only a couple of families participating, didn't take long. So Kelly went downstairs to the playgroup and recruited half a dozen 2 to 3-year-olds!

Not many pics - just lots of activity! Once the half a dozen playgroup children joined us it became a very busy session indeed!

Sunday, 27 April 2014


A friend of mine recently gave me a jar of smoked paprika - and I've been doing a bit of experimenting with it.

I made some pasta with the s/paprika in the dough - which gave it a lovely flavour and looked pretty amazing, too! 

Yesterday being Saturday it was pizzas for dinner - but the weather was far too wet to use the chiminea, so I had to use the oven. 

Judging by the pasta, in which I'd used 3/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika to 50g of flour, I decided I needed 3 teaspoons for the 200g of flour I was using for the pizzas - and once again, it gave the dough a lovely colour:

The topping was some leftover chilli, mashed a little, with mushrooms, tomatoes, nooch and dried basil


Vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, banana, custard and coconut 'cream'
Friday 25th April 2014
I've got the taste for trifle, now, so here's another one - this time not made with chocolate cake (my default position!), but with vanilla sponge.

Friday, 25 April 2014

BREADMAKING MADE EASY - Highbridge, Somerset May 2014

Here's where I shall post all the preparation and planning for this course, plus links to the recipes of all the breads we make over the three weeks. I'll be surprised if we don't make a dozen or so different varieties of bread between us all! 

Here's the pre-course letter that students will receive:

Dear Student,

Breadmaking at Morland Hall, Pearce Drive, Off Morland Road, Highbridge, TA9 3ET, 9.30-12.30, 6th to 20th May 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 chair 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 morning are: Plain soda bread, spiced fruit loaf (also soda bread) and a tinned loaf, yeast risen.

Each week you will make 2 or 3 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 during the session.

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 mornings!

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

Paul (Course tutor)

P.s. I’ve started a post on my blog where I will post all the planning for this course – plus all the pics, both mine and yours!

Have a look around the blog – this will help you decide which breads you’d like to make.

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
2 dessertspoons sugar (granulated is fine)
Mixed spice
100g dried fruit
10g fresh yeast (but I'll have plenty available if you can’t find any)

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 your warm bread in to take home.
Baking paper/parchment (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)
Mug (there are cups and saucers in the centre – not sure if they provide mugs)

Thursday, 24 April 2014


(Some info on my experience of the 5:2 way of eating.)

Thursday 24th April 2014
Made a variation on the pasta side of this dish by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika along with the flour - it just lifts it out of the ordinary!

Ragu sauce made pretty much as below

Sunday, 20 April 2014


Today is the 6th time this year I've had the chiminea in action. Here are a few of the pics I have taken along the way:

Since I only cook outdoors on sunny days, some liquid refreshment always seems to be called for. This is how I begin my cooking - with a glass of my homemade (Munton's) stout.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


For all those who made their own hot cross buns this year, don’t put away those skills until next year!

Extend that expertise and turn your hot cross bun dough into a whole range of brilliant breads:
Chelsea buns
Swedish tea ring
Apfel kuchen (German apple cake)
Christmas loaf
Fruit loaf
And more!
You'll find links to all the individual recipes, with pics, alongside each variation.

Here’s my original hot cross bun recipe – which is itself a variation on spicy fruit buns

MANGO KUCHEN a vegan fruit loaf

More pics further down the post
230g strong white flour
25g unrefined cane sugar (Billington's natural molasses sugar)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
150g sultanas, chopped prunes and chopped apricots(soaked for 24 hours)
20g fresh yeast (or 10g dried active yeast)
105g soaking liquid from the dried fruit
50g olive oil

Thursday, 17 April 2014


7th August 2013
Why, oh why don't I have this more often?

I've just made a quick version of this for lunch, which was absolutely fabulous - and only 184 calories!

Lightly fry the tomato and mushroom to soften, and sprinkle with black pepper.


30g gram flour
Pinch of salt (optional)
75ml water
5 squirts of 'One-cal' olive oil (for the frying pan)

1 rounded dessertspoon hummus
1 sliced tomato
1 sliced mushroom

Method - as below.

Calorie count:

30g gram flour - 101
20g houmous - 60
75g tomato  - 14
29g mushroom - 4
10 squirts of oil (five for the tomato and mushroom, 5 for the 'omelette') - 5

Total 184 calories

29th April 2013
I just love chick-pea (gram) flour! It is full of  flavour - and so useful in the kitchen.

Here's a lovely, socca based, vegan, gluten-free, soya-free omelette-type dish. Dead easy - and dead gorgeous! 

This 'omelette' totals roughly 263 calories for those watching their weight. Served with the potato wedges linked to below, plus a serving of broccoli, the total comes to approximately 375.

30g gram flour
Pinch of salt (optional)
75ml water
5 squirts of 'One-cal' olive oil (for the frying pan)

Mix together, and add:

5 slices of jalapeno peppers, chopped fine
1 sun-dried tomato, chopped small

Sprinkle of lemon juice
1 field mushroom, sliced and lightly fried
Black pepper

Sharp, tangy and hot - and very few calories!
Heat a medium-sized frying pan with a little oil (or, for calorie counters, use about 5 squirts of 'One-cal'), and pour in the batter. 

Just starting to cook from the edges
Allow the pancake to cook for about 4-5 minutes, then, to make sure it's not sticking to the pan, gently lift the edges up all round with a spatula.

Spread houmous over one half of it, sprinkle with lemon juice,  then place the mushroom slices over the houmous.

Finished off with black pepper 
Sprinkle with black pepper, then fold the other side of the pancake over the filling.

The finished 'omelette'
Serve with curried potato wedges and broccoli.

30g gram flour - 101c
16g jalapenos - 4
16g sun dried tomatoes - 33
40g houmous - 120
36g mushroom - 5
5 squirts of oil - 5

Total - 268

Plus 100g curried potato wedges - 87 cals, and broccoli - 15 cals

370 calories in total!

Note: If you want an even lower-calorie meal, substitute the houmous with more mushrooms and sliced tomato. The meal would probably come in at around 270 cals in total!

More about the 5:2 'diet'.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


There are several things you can make with just self raising flour and water - here are some of them.

Yesterday I made several crepes Suzette for an after-dinner treat, using these pancakes. I had some batter leftover, so for lunch today I made a large pancake, spread half of it with hummus, with some slices of tomato, added a sprinkle of nooch and some black pepper, and folded it over. Voila! A hummus and tomato omelette! Simply gorgeous!

Pancake day tomorrow - but you don't need eggs and milk, just s/raising flour and water will suffice - and you won't be able to tell the difference! This recipe will save you a packet. Flour and water pancakes - just about as simple as it gets!

It's hard to believe, but these are just as good as those made with traditional ingredients.

And here it is - can you tell the difference?
200g self raising flour (you can also make these with gluten-free flour)
600ml water

1 mug self-raising flour
2 mugs water

Whisk together, to get rid of the lumps, and pour enough into a medium hot, oiled, frying pan to cover the base. Flip over to cook the other side when the bottom is browned to your liking - then serve with the topping of your choice.

(There's also a case to be made for putting some flour in a jug and adding enough water to make it into a fairly runny batter.)

I'm very fond of the usual sugar and lemon juice - but I also like them spread with homemade marmalade. I'm told chocolate spread is also very tasty on pancakes - I'll have to try it!

So, the benefits:
Cost – a batch of these pancakes will cost around 10p for 10 or more – about  a penny each. As against up to around 90p for a traditional batch.
Ease of making - you don't have to plan for these except by having a packet of self-raising flour in the cupboard. Really, there's no need to measure anything - just tip some flour in a bowl or jug and add water - stirring all the time - until it reaches the consistency you want.
Health – if you’re trying to cut down on dairy or eggs, these are for you. The young sister-in-law of one of my students (Nadine) is allergic to eggs, so Nadine was delighted to learn you don’t need them.*
Animal welfare. No animals will be harmed in the making of these pancakes.

Calories - This makes, say 10 pancakes. Self raising flour has 350 calories per 100g, so the combined total of the batch is 700g. Divided by 10 pancakes that makes 70 cals per pancake. Adding lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar (5g) is 20 cals, so a good-sized pancake can be made for around 90 calories.

Nadine, one of my students told me about her young sister-in-law. She loves cooking and has been helping her mum make pancakes  (even flipping them) - and then had to watch her family eat them, for years. Yet she's never been able to taste one, until now. Nadine took the recipe round and they made pancakes straight away - and the youngster tucked into one with absolute delight. "That's pancake day sorted from now on!" was Nadine's comment!

Here's how I got to where I am with these.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Needing something sweet, I made my version of a crepe suzette  after dinner tonight. 15 minutes after having the idea, I was tucking in. 

I used this recipe as a base - except that I didn't measure anything. [This is also gorgeous using chick-pea (gram) flour]

At 8.30pm I put the frying pan on a medium heat with a little oil and grabbed a jug and a bag of self-raising flour. Poured about a handful of flour into the jug and added some water - whisked with a spoon, then with a fork. The batter was a little on the thick side, so I added more water and whisked for another minute.

4 minutes later I poured about half of the batter into the frying pan, tilted it so that it covered the base of the pan and adjusted the heat.

After another 4 minutes I turned the pancake over - using a spatula since my cast iron frying pan is just too heavy to flip.

Whilst it was cooking I placed a good dessertspoonful of my home-made ginger marmalade into a dish, added a little water, and stuck it in the microwave for 45-50 seconds.

At 8.42, I turned the pancake over again to give the first side another couple of minutes.

8.44  - slid out the pancake onto a plate, poured the marmalade sauce over the middle of the pancake and drizzled Benedictine over the sauce. Folded the pancake over the filling and poured soya cream over the top.

8.45 tucked in to the Crepe Suzette - sublime!

CHEAP AND CHEERFUL - TEMPURA, with a yeast-risen batter (vegan)

One of the cheapest, and most satisfying, meals you can make!

(I also make these using a self-raising flour and water batter.)

75g strong white flour
75g strong wholemeal flour (or you could use all white)
1/4 or less teaspoon of salt
250ml lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast (or 5g dried active yeast)

1 Linda McCartney sausage
50g or so of Fry's polony
I large field mushroom

And vegetable oil - 1/2 a centimetre of oil in either a saucepan or a small frying pan.

You don't want the portion sizes too big - this is enough for two meals

Thursday, 10 April 2014

VEGAN SODA BREAD PIZZAS with sun-dried tomatoes and olives

More pics further down

It was the end of term session this morning, of our U3A Enquiring minds (P4C) course, so we all brought something in for a buffet lunch. My contribution was a couple of vegan pizzas - with a soda bread crust - which went down a storm.

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bouillon powder
125ml liquid (100g water, 25g tomato puree)
50g oil from the sun-dried tomatoes (This enhances the crust and gives it almost a shortcrust pastry-type feel.)

1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 dessertspoon mushroom sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 dessertspoons nutritional yeast

This was mashed with a potato masher to make it more smooth, and simmered to reduce it.

Sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips, mushrooms, olives, nutritional yeast and oregano

Friday, 4 April 2014


Here's a simple 'cheese sauce' - low in calories and so easy to make!

(Use it with this lasagne layered with potato.)

You'll need:
Free and Easy cheese flavour sauce mix - available in the 'Free from' section of Sainsbury's;
Nutritional yeast - from your local health food shop;
Bouillon powder - widely available

4 heaped teaspoons of the sauce mix
300ml water
1 teaspoon (5g) bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons (10g) nutritional yeast (nooch)

Mix a little of the water into the powder in a saucepan and stir into a paste - add the rest of the water. Place over a low heat and allow to simmer, stirring frequently. When the sauce thickens, stir in the flavourings.

And that's it!

OR: Recently, I've been making a 'cheese' sauce from scratch - I haven't got around to putting my own spin on it, yet, but I will.

Calorie count: The sauce - 78 cals; bouillon powder - 12 cals; nooch - 35 cals.
Total - 125 calories

I'm off to buy a cauliflower - can't wait to make a tasty, vegan, cauliflower cheese! :)

I finally got around to making a cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake, using this cheese sauce variation which is quite a bit richer than the one above:

Cheese sauce:
2 dessertspoons Free and Easy cheese sauce powder 78 cals
2 dessertspoon nooch - 40
1 teaspoon bouillon powder - 12
1 teaspoon curry powder – 5
1 teaspoon garlic powder – 5
100g soy cream - 190
200g water

Thursday, 3 April 2014


I cannot believe just how easy and tasty this was - why have I not made it before?

I made this for a  non-fasting day (NFD) - but it turns out to have very few calories at all, so it's perfect for either a FD or a NFD!

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake 

(Serves 2)
Half a head of cauliflower, in florets - 90
Couple of florets of broccoli - 31
100g onion, chopped - 31
100g celery, chopped - 8

Cheese sauce:
2 dessertspoons Free and Easy cheese sauce powder 78 cals
2 dessertspoon nooch - 40
1 teaspoon bouillon powder - 12
1 teaspoon curry powder – 5
1 teaspoon garlic powder – 5
100g soy cream - 190
200g water

Divide the cauli and broccoli into florets and lightly simmer in a little water, along with the onion and celery.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce:
Mix the dry ingredients in a small saucepan, then add the water and soya cream. Place over a little heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens.

Place the tender vegetables in a shallow baking dish and cover with the cheese sauce.

Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes.

Total calories 524 - so 262 cals per portion

I had this with 85g of homemade bread - 215 calories, so the total is still under 500 calories. If I was to have this on a FD I would have it with a small baked potato - 100g would be 72 cals.