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, 29 January 2015


These were made by my Special Needs students

(Makes 8)

400g strong white flour
2 dessertspoons sugar  (granulated is fine)
1 teaspoon fresh yeast
250ml lukewarm water
A good glug of olive oil (optional)
200g dried fruit (currants, sultanas or raisins plus mixed peel)
2 large cooking apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar (unrefined sugar if you like, but granulated is fine)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

(Mix these ingredients together quickly to prevent the apple browning)

1 dessertspoon sugar, dissolved in 2 dessertspoons of boiling water

  1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid and then add the olive oil, if using.

  1. 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). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand 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 to keep it soft! 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 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!

  1. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag – all day if necessary - until you are ready for step 5. Or go straight to step 5.

  1. When you are ready to proceed, divide the dough into 8 pieces and form each one into a bun shape. Using plenty of flour on your worktop, roll each one out into a circle about 15cm across. Place a spoonful or more of filling on one side of the circle, lift the other side over to cover it and press the two sides together. Form a crimp by pushing your fingertips together – with 2 fingers of one hand on top of the edge of the dough and 2 fingers of the other hand at the side of the dough, so that the tips of the fingers go between each other.

  1. Place each one onto a prepared baking sheet and leave to prove until the dough has become risen and puffy.

  1. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 12-15 minutes. Look for some colour underneath the turnovers.

  1. Brush with the sugar glaze.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Vegan chocolate cake (with banana instead of oil)

150g sugar

25g cocoa powder
150g self raising flour
1 mashed banana
250g water


Measure the sugar and the cocoa powder, and mix them together. The sharp edges of the granulated sugar break up the clumps of cocoa powder, so sieving is not necessary. Add the flour and mix, first with a dessertspoon, then with a whisk, then add the banana and water. Stir, initially with a dessertspoon, and then with a whisk, and pour into a prepared 20cm (8") cake tin.

Bake at 175C for 30-35 minutes.

Or: Use a silicon cake form and place in the microwave (800w) for 6 minutes. In my experience, not only do you get a quicker cake, but the cake rises about 25% higher in the microwave.

(It's also possible to make an excellent gluten-free version of this cake. The recipe uses vegetable oil - but you can always substitute a mashed banana.)

You can play around with this recipe as you wish. Here I've reduced the sugar from 200g in my original recipe. I've also substituted 250g of stewed apricots and dates for the sugar - and my daughter simply used 4 bananas along with the flour, cocoa powder and water.