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, 29 November 2014


I haven't done any weight bearing exercises for 6 weeks, due first of all to a strained (or sprained - who knows?) shoulder, although I still continued with HIIT, followed by severe pain in my right glute. It was indeed a pain in the arse!

Both problems turned out to be actually muscle spasms - which my son sorted out by applying pressure to the affected muscle. First the glute pain which was banished - almost instantaneously - by sitting on a rolling pin periodically! The shoulder problem was sorted similarly by pressing hard with the muscle on my (quite thin) wardrobe door!

I resumed my exercises quite gingerly - sets of 5 normal press-ups instead of 20 weighted (8kg) ones, 2 chin-ups instead of the 5 I was doing earlier. And I went back to my 6kg kettlebell in place of my 9kg - only doing sets of 5 reps initially.

I do my body weights on Mon, Wed and Fri; and swing my kb around on Tue, Thurs and Sat - with a day off on Sunday.

I'm gradually building back up - I've doubled my starting numbers, and I'm adding one extra rep each time, except for the chin-ups. I'm concentrating on getting the technique right for those, so I'm still on 2 reps - but I start with my arms straight, unlike before when I began with my arms bent.

Already, 10 days in, I'm starting to feel the benefit, and it feels good to be back in the routine.

It'll take me a couple of months to get back to where I was, but I'm in no hurry - I'll get there eventually.

(Another glitch in my exercise fitness routine - a hernia op in September 2015!)

My HIIT (running on the spot in 4 foot of water for 30 secs, followed by a recovery period of 20 secs) is progressing well - I'm up to 4 sets, now, and loving it. I count every other step in each 30 seconds - initially I used to average about 70 and now my average is 80+. The exercise is therefore more intense, but I don't breathe any heavier, nor is my pulse rate any greater.

But the exciting news concerns my lung capacity. I was diagnosed with mild COPD (from smoking between the ages of 19 and 33) a couple of years ago, so I have my lungs checked regularly. I was discharged from the Lung Clinic last year, but my local surgery keeps an eye on me.

And the good news is that my lung capacity showed an increase of just over 5% - from 3.65 litres in August 2013 to 3.85 earlier this month. I'm very pleased with that, especially since the 



So, my lung capacity, at the age of 77, is .033% greater than that predicted for a healthy 65-yr-old!  This can only be as a result of my taking up weight-bearing exercises.

I am indeed very grateful to GymBoffin and all my friends on Mumsnet who encouraged me to start serious exercising exactly 12 months ago this week!!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

VEGAN SPANISH OMELETTE using a gram (chick pea) flour batter

My new favourite dinner! - quick and easy!

2 medium potatoes, diced and pre-cooked
1 small onion, chopped and pre-cooked

3 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
1 medium mushroom, sliced

4 slices vegan cheese
1 medium tomato, sliced
Nutritional yeast – to sprinkle
Black pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste

Gram flour batter made up with
40g gram flour, 100g water and a little salt

Chop the potatoes and onion and simmer them for a few minutes until soft. Drain (saving the liquid) and gently fry in a little oil.

While these are sautéing, make up the batter and whisk to remove any lumps.

Add the s-d-tomatoes and the mushroom to the frying pan and heat through, tossing once or twice.

Gather the veg in a neat(ish) circle in the middle of the frying pan and gently pour the batter over and into the potatoes. Any escaping streams of batter should gently be turned back over the potatoes.

Place the slices of cheese over the potatoes, followed by the sliced tomato and the nooch. Finally, add the black pepper and cayenne.

Fry for a further 5 or so minutes, until the batter is almost cooked.

Place under a hot grill for around 5 minutes, then serve with fresh home made bread spread with a little olive oil.

Also, see: Socca (gram flour pancakes).

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Chelle, one of the parents on my latest course, is a very keen student and makes many of the breads we make in the sessions at home with her children.

She's very kindly sent me some pics of her baking activities; here are some of them:

[More to come]

I've been running a Family Learning breadmaking class at this school in Taunton for over 13 years. The main thrust is family learning - parents and children learning together - the breadmaking is just a means to an end. However, the breadmaking is very serious - no child leaves Halcon without being able to make bread.

We began with year four children and their parents - but it didn't take long to realise that parents quickly became comfortable in the school surroundings - and not a few have gone on to take an active part in the school, listening to children read, etc. So the age was gradually dropped, and now we have year one children coming to the session. And very accomplished they prove to be.

Each course runs for 5 weeks, and every week we make two varieties of bread - generally a savoury and a sweet.

The families go home with recipes of the breads they have made - and I always give the children (especially) some homework. This is to go home and find someone who doesn't know how to make bread, and teach them what they've learned.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Gluten free, vegan chocolate cake

(This is a GF variation on a vegan chocolate cake I developed for a family get-together last year.)

165g Dove's gluten and wheat free self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
200g sugar
80g vegetable oil
250g water

Measure the dry ingredients, sifting the flour and the cocoa powder, then add the oil and water. Stir, initially with a dessertspoon, and then with a whisk, then pour into a prepared 20cm (8") cake tin.

Bake at 175C for 35-40 minutes.

Or: Use a micro-wave friendly cake form and microwave for 6-7 minutes (800W). Rises better!

Here's the original recipe.

Sunday, 2 November 2014


(*Aged 77 and counting!)

Put simply, my goal is to live healthily into old age. If that leads to greater longevity, well, that would be a bonus, but it's not my main concern.

So I am health conscious, and, since I began intermittent fasting (IF) in Feb 2012, I've become more and more aware of how we can take control of our own health.

Intermittent fasting plays an integral part in this, of course, its benefits are legion. (Just off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen health conditions that are countered by IF.) But there are other interventions that are necessary in order to maximise one's health - in my opinion.

Exercise and IF complement each other perfectly - but there are, of course several types of exercise which are covered in depth here by my guest blogger, GymBoffin. Last November I began a home-based exercise routine and in December I began using a kettlebell. Later I added High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to my routine.

A plant-based diet. I've been a vegan now for around 10 years, and I'm more and more convinced that this contributes greatly to my all-round good health and sense of well-being.