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.

Friday, 18 March 2016

RHUBARB PIE - with the simplest pastry ever! (Vegan)

Who would have thought that a pie could be simpler than a crumble? Yet that's the case here!

Pastry too thick? Not so sure.The filling is just tart enough, and the pastry is almost cake-like!
500g of rhubarb, with 100g of sugar, encased in a sweetened bread dough. Sounds simple, and it is - but it's oh, so flavoursome!

Here's a savoury pie, made the same way, with the method of assembly shown in pics. I used 200g of self raising flour, with 25g of sugar, and my wife maintains the pastry is too thick. So I was thinking that next time I'll use 150g of flour and roll the dough out thinner. But then again, I'm sitting here munching a slice of cold pie (and trying to leave some for tomorrow!), and the proportions seem just right. The pastry, bread, call it what you will, is almost cake-like - it's absolutely gorgeous!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


Breadmaking Made Easy Workshop, 10.00am - 4.30pm 
12th March 2016 Portway, Portway Ave, Wells BA5 2QF
Dear Student,

This letter sets out what I intend will happen on the day 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 somewhere to sit down. 

Then there is a little paperwork we need to complete – I’ll guide you through that, if you can bring a pen that would come in handy.

Before we start breadmaking I’d like to spend some time finding out what you expect to get out of the day’s session so that I can hopefully meet all your requirements.

The breads we will be making will include 2 types of soda bread, fancy dinner rolls, bread wraps (which we’ll have for lunch), fruited bread from which we’ll make hot cross buns and Chelsea buns, loaf of bread, focaccia and pizza.

My aim is to turn you into a competent home baker (if you’re not already!) able to bake any bread you fancy.

The kettle is always on for a mug of tea or coffee (cost 20p). For lunch we’ll have a couple of the cheesey wraps.

Bring a large basket or cardboard box to carry all your equipment and ingredients - and the finished products to take home with you!

I want to reassure all those students new to breadmaking that my first aim for this workshop 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 have a particular variety of bread you'd like to make instead of one of the breads on offer, I'd be very happy for you to do that. Get in touch if this idea appeals to you and we will see how we could fit it in to the programme. Or if you have any questions, doubts, suggestions at all, please don’t hesitate to ring or email me.

I have a blog - part bread making, part vegan cookery - in which I detail all my breadmaking activities. Here's the post I've opened about this workshop.

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 his or her friends’. Which is exactly what we shall be doing!

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


Ps. I’ve just heard there are 11 students signed up, so this is going to be a really busy workshop. We’ve reached this number due to the cancellation of a planned workshop in Frome. So, welcome to the Frome students - I’ll do my best to make sure that you find your journey worthwhile.

There are a couple of things I’d like to draw your attention to (I’ll mention these again in the session, of course):
Because it is such a big group, I’m going to be more dependent than usual on student cooperation. I’ll be giving everyone as much attention as I can, but if I’m occupied elsewhere, and you can help your fellow students, that would be a huge benefit. Bread making lends itself to co-operative endeavour in my opinion.

I’ll be bringing my own ovens, which are small (but very efficient), about the size of a microwave, with 3 shelves. To fit 3 trays in the ovens, we don’t want the bread to rise too high. So, flat(ish) breads are the order of the day. The ovens are very good, with 2 elements - the top element bakes the top of the bread, whilst the bottom element bakes the underneath. So, the trays need to be circulated - top to bottom to middle, etc. Timing is very important, so please bring a kitchen timer if you can - I wish to avoid any burnt bread if at all possible.

Flour. Don't forget to specify strong flour, as this is sold especially for breadmaking. Own-brand flours are fine.
Yeast. The most convenient for our purposes is fresh baker’s yeast – if you can’t get hold of any, I’ll have enough for everyone.
Olive oil. This is much cheaper these days, and it does improve the bread. Once again, buy the cheapest you can - £1.99 (I think!) for 750ml at Lidl!

Shopping list:
2 bags strong flour – one white and one wholemeal, or 2 white
Baking powder
250ml olive oil
100g sugar
50g fresh yeast if you can get some – or I'll have some for 10p
Sesame/poppy seeds
200g sultanas or any dried fruit 
Mixed spice/cinnamon/nutmeg
150g grated Cheddar
Tomato sauce of your choice for the pizza
Dried oregano if you have it
Rosemary – fresh or dried
Black pepper
Some tomatoes/mushrooms/onions/peppers for the wraps and pizza

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 parchment or paper (this is unlike 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)
Sharp knife
Mug for hot drink