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, 21 February 2017

VEGANISM: Reason Nr. 1 - Animal welfare

(There are two other good reasons for going vegan - Global warming and health. I shall post about these as soon as I can - and I'll link to them from here. Necessarily, some of these links cross the boundaries, but I've tried to separate them out as much as I can.)

I was a vegetarian for 2 years - for health reasons - before I transitioned into a vegan. It took me two years for the blinkers to fully come off. Prior to that I’d been a meat-eater for 63 years, with the blinkers fully in place.

There is more and more evidence emerging of the inherent cruelty involved in the livestock industry - here I'm going to present some of it. Much of it comes from the US, but we have our own tragedies over here.

"...with the number of land animals slaughtered every year reaching over 50 billion - plus incalculable numbers of sea creatures."

SWINE - a very British horror story.

And even closer to home:

Pig farm in Somerset.

And here's an overview of the meat industry.

There are some truly inspirational animal activists around - here's James Aspey, one of the most remarkable. Another is Gary Yourofsky, who is perhaps more 'in your face'. (Video starts 20 mins in - you'll need to slide it back to the beginning.)

Here are the top 10 vegan documentaries - each one with its own trailer.

There's more - much more. Do your own research. If you still want to eat meat and meat products after wading through all these links - then please don't call yourself an animal lover!

Monday, 20 February 2017


There are several dishes that can be made with just self-raising flour and water - and here are the ones I've posted so far.

Finally, I've got around to adding dumplings to this list - and, once again, they are simple to make, cheap - and surprisingly good!

Today, I had a rich vegetable sauce simmering on the stove, and I thought it's time I made the effort!

So I took a heaped dessertspoonful of self-raising flour, added a pinch of salt, 2 or 3 dessertspoons of water, and mixed it into a dough. This I kneaded for a couple of seconds, formed it into a ball and dropped it into the hot, bubbling sauce.

It had been in the sauce a minute or two before I took the pic, and it had already grown a little
Six or seven minutes later, I looked at it again.

Doubled in size
After about 10 more minutes I turned it over in the sauce - and left it for a further 20 minutes. Then I took it out and, with difficulty because it was very soft, sliced it in half...

It was light and fluffy - everything you'd want from a dumpling!
I should have made more - in the end, to bulk out the dumpling I tore pieces off a quarter of a soda bread I'd made earlier, and simmered them in the sauce.

Next time I do that, I'll make sure I add sufficient water, because the soda bread soaked up all the liquid - and my lovely sauce was nearly burnt!

I don't think these dumplings require measurements - but for those of you who don't agree with me, here's the recipe:

1 mug or 200g self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3rd mug or 125ml water

1. You'll need a stew of some kind to cook these in! :)

2. Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, add the water and begin mixing with a table knife or similar.

3. Mix together into a soft dough, stirring and cutting through the dough as it forms, adding more flour or water as needed. 

4. Keep the dough as soft as possible - even a little sticky, since they're going into a liquid, after all.

5. Divide the dough into 8 or 10 or 12 pieces - depending on how big you want them - and form into balls a bit smaller than the size of a golf ball - then place these gently into your stew.

6. Make sure there is enough liquid in your stew to carry the dumplings. Turn them over after about 6-7 minutes. They'll be ready about 20 minutes after going into the stew.

Ring the changes with these - make them with half and half white and wholemeal flour. If you don't have self-raising wholemeal flour, add a teaspoon of baking powder at the rate of 1 teaspoon to 100g of flour.

Add herbs and spices to the flour to pep them up a bit.

I posted this recipe on Mumsnet, and AmberLeaf responded:

"You should try Jamaican dumplings, plain flour and water, sometimes cornmeal [fine] 50/50 with the plain flour."

Monday, 6 February 2017

FUNDRAISING FOR YMCA AND TAH (Taunton Association for the Homeless)

Wednesday 10th August 2016
Final total raised was £850 - meaning £425 went to support the homeless in Taunton, and £425 went to the YMCA roof fund in Taunton.

Wednesday 13th July 2016
This morning I was invited in to BBC Radio Somerset, where I gave two interviews on the Breakfast Show. In the first (02:04 into the show), lasting about 5 minutes, I was given the opportunity to explain the background to my challenge - and I was also given the chance to outline the part Intermittent Fasting (5:2 diet) had played in my overall fitness.

Then, later on (at 2:25 on that link), I was brought back on to show the announcer, Claire Carter, how to do a proper press up - by lying on the floor and pushing yourself up. As you'll hear, under my guidance, she managed her first ever!

Press ups on the radio - it doesn't get any more rock and roll than that! :)

Shortly after this I went over the road to the lawn in front of County Hall where they filmed me in action.

Previously... [I've done it! Just completed 1175 press ups in one hour. Update at foot of post.]
On Friday the 1st of July I shall attempt to complete 1000 press ups in under one hour. I'm asking for sponsors to contribute 1 penny per press up - but, of course, I'll accept any contribution, no matter how small.

Here's my Just Giving page, where anyone interested can donate.

Initially my goal was to raise £300, but I feel I can do better than that, so I've increased my target to £600. 

Here's the story of how all this came about.

Just over 4 years ago I started Intermittent Fasting (IF) after reading about it helping to keep prostate cancer at bay. I joined a forum on Mumsnet devoted to IF and I’ve been practicing 5:2 ever since, losing 24lbs in the process. I’m now doing 6:1 for maintenance.

Two and a half years ago, I was encouraged, on an associated Mumsnet thread, to take up home-based exercises - and learned how to do a proper pushup. The ethos of the thread is that you should keep pushing yourself to see what you can accomplish.

This is a post from the thread last November:

Someone, can't think where, recently mentioned 1000 press ups in a day. I was idly musing on this with the YMCA manager, Keith, saying that it was an achievable goal for sometime in the future. He perked up his ears and said that could be a fundraiser - "78-year-old bloke does 1000 press ups in a day.

So that’s where the challenge came from.

TBH, I’m amazed at how quick my progress has been. If it tells me anything, it tells me we’re all capable of doing more than we think.

I put my fitness down to three things - first of all, the amount of extra energy I get from regularly practicing Intermittent Fasting - IF; secondly, body weight exercises and HIIT; and thirdly, the fact that I’ve been a vegan for the past 13 or so years.  

I'm actually well on course to beat my target with just under three weeks to go. 1000 press ups in an hour requires an average of 17 every minute. And initially I thought I'd go for 20 every minute for the first 300 or so, then drop down to 17 a minute, finishing on 14 a minute. But, the more I trained, the more I realised that I can manage 20 a minute for the full hour. And to make sure I'm really comfortable with 20 a minute, I'm currently doing 25 a minute. Yesterday I did 500 in under 20 minutes.

Tuesday 14th June 
Tonight I had a full dress rehearsal - I completed 1200 press ups in 59mins 20 seconds. I did this in sets of 20 every minute - and I felt fine, but the last 3 or 4 of each set, once I'd reached 1000, were hard. But I know that those are the ones which will improve my performance, so I didn't mind too much. From now on until the day of the challenge, I intend to train on every 3rd day, doing 25 every minute - probably up to 200 or so - but I'll see how I go.

Friday 1st July
Well, I did it! 1175 pushups in one hour - witnessed by YMCA staff and a Somerset County Gazette reporter!

I intended to do sets of 20 pushups every minute, on the minute, aiming for 1200 - but there was a bit of slippage somewhere, since I ran out of time. :(

I can't deny I found the last couple of press ups of each set were getting tougher as I neared my goal; but still, each set averaged out at around 16-17 seconds. 

And I can't deny that I got my body lower at the beginning of the exercise than I managed towards the end!

But, all in all, I'm very happy! :)

If anyone wishes to help me celebrate my achievement, my Just Giving page link is towards the top of this post.