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, 16 October 2018


Often, when there's not a lot on the box and I have time to kill, I google the word 'Fasting' or 'plant based diet', followed by a condition, or an activity or somesuch.

I saw my GP last week for something minor and I just happened to mention that my arthritis had been in abeyance for several years. It was just a throwaway remark along with all the other subjects we'd been discussing.

But later I began to think about this, and realised that my arthritis, which had steadily been getting ever so slightly (but significantly) worse - until I stopped eating meat and dairy foods and became a vegan. Since then, while there has been no real improvement in my condition (apart from the amelioration of pain I gained from acupuncture), it hasn't deteriorated in the slightest. In fact, apart from the swelling in most of the joints of my fingers, it would be difficult to tell I had arthritis at all!

So I searched for  'Plant-based diet and arthritis', and found this article which more or less explains why my arthritis has been stable for the past ten or so years. And why fasting, in conjunction with a plant-based diet is beneficial.

Here's the story of someone who has benefited from giving up meat, dairy and eggs.

It's well worth looking through all the success stories on the 'Forks over Knives' website. 

It seems to make perfect sense to me. Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, 8 October 2018


A Thai chilli non carne pie!

The other half ended up in the freezer
As a vegan, I often find myself thinking out of the box, and here's a pastry which uses no milk, butter, marge or lard. Consequently, there is no need for that tiresome technique known as 'rubbing in' which is supposed to make something like 'breadcrumbs'. 

No need, either, for resting the pastry in the fridge - this is a 'quick pastry'. Or for 'baking blind' - there's no need for any of that faff. Instead, the ingredients are mixed into a dough - kneaded for a few seconds to distribute the ingredients properly - then rolled out and popped into a pie dish. If there is an easier method, I'd like to hear of it!

Monday, 30 July 2018


I'm planning to run a 5 or 6 week course somewhere in Taunton, starting in September. Here's where I shall post all my planning, as details become finalised.

I mean, I don't have a venue, yet, so... 😀

It'll be primarily about bread - but the content would be determined by the students. I'll plan the first session, but after that, it'll be down to the students to choose what we make next. If the decision is, let's make a lentil and potato stew, we can do that - and then make bread pasties and stuffed parathas with the leftovers. 😉

To give you an idea about some of the breads we can make, here's a link to a previous course I ran at The Planet. I'd do it there again, but Wendy is getting so busy, I'm reluctant to add to her workload.

Who is this course for?
Anyone who wishes to improve their cooking skills. I'd really like a mix of vegans and non-vegans. As to how many I could fit on the course, well that would depend on the venue - as would whether children can come or not.  The optimum number for me is 8.

Purpose and cost:
Primarily, I'm doing this to raise money for a TV for the Taunton branch of Anonymous for the Voiceless. We've raised £150, so far, towards a target of £400. As for how much to charge, I'm still thinking about this - obviously, I have to break even, but beyond that, any money raised would go to AV.
At the same time, I don't want anyone not to be able access this course because of cost. 
So I'm thinking of just asking for donations, ATM. 


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

GARLIC BATONS - in the oven and frying pan (Vegan)

Saturday 1st July 2017
Since I began teaching at Taunton Association of the Homeless, a couple of years ago, I've made quite a bit of bread in a frying pan, along with the students. When they find accommodation, they may not always have an oven, but they may well have a hob and a frying pan. 

Last week the students on my current Burnham breadmaking opted to make garlic batons, as below, in the oven. So I wanted to see how these would fare, making them in a frying pan.

I used self raising flour, as I often do, these days:
Put the frying pan on a medium heat
100g s/raising flour
Pinch of salt
65ml water

Mixed into a dough and kneaded for a minute or two
Roll out into a rectangle a bit shorter than the frying pan

Garlic spread:
3 cloves garlic, smashed 
Heaped dessertspoon vegan spread -mixed together

Spread the garlic, et, over the dough and roll it up tightly.

Using a little flour and a rolling pin, flatten the dough and place it in the frying pan with a lid of some sort. Bake for 4 minutes each side - the colour should finish up a golden brown. 

Not like this one...

I baked it too long on both sides.

Still tasted gorgeous, though!

I made one for my neighbour - his verdict was, "Stunning!"

Sometime back in 2011.
Whenever I'm offered garlic bread at a gathering it's almost inevitably a supermarket baguette, cut into chunks, slathered with butter and garlic and baked for a while. It's OK, but it doesn't have the depth of flavour of these batons, where the bread and the filling are cooked together. Vary the filling as you will, with herbs, pesto, etc. As a vegan, I use olive oil instead of butter.
Garlic batons. Dough rolled out flat, covered with mashed garlic and olive oil, then rolled up like a Swiss roll

This method infuses the whole loaf with garlic

400g strong white flour of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml lukewarm water
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
Good splash of olive oil

Garlic spread made with around a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed, and olive oil to taste. Mix in any herbs or spices you fancy. Spread with pesto to give it a bit more oomph.

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

2. 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. 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.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up! Either leave it, covered, for an hour or so, or go to step 4.

4. Divide the dough in two and form each piece into a round bap shape. Roll each piece out into a large rectangle – about 20cm by 30cm on a floured worktop. Spread the filling all over the dough and roll each piece up like a Swiss roll, with the seam side underneath. Gently tuck the ends underneath to stop any leakage. (You’ll still get a bit.) Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

5. Leave to prove until they have risen appreciably.

6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. Look for colour underneath.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Spicy Fruit Soda Bread - De Luxe

100g wholemeal flour + 1 tsp baking powder
100g s/raising flour, white
(Or you could just use all white flour - I’m just trying to be a bit healthier - you could use all wholemeal should you wish, but it'll be a bit dense.)
100g chopped dates
100g raisins
1 dsp sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
(Or whatever sweet spices you like)
125ml water
1 dsp olive oil* (optional)

50g (approx) golden marzipan*
8-12 or so glace cherries, halved

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the water and oil (if using). Using a flat bladed implement (either a stiff palette knife, or a table knife), mix into a workable dough, adding a little water or flour as appropriate. You’re looking for a soft dough that you can handle without it sticking.
Knead (flatten and fold) just until the dough is smooth, with no pockets of flour. you’re just trying to distribute the ingredients evenly.
Flour the dough on top and underneath, then roll out into an oval about 25-30cms across. Place your chosen filling across the oval, placing the halves of cherries on either side of the filling. Save 3 halves for the top of the loaf.
Bring the far side of the dough over the filling then fold over once more, leaving the seam underneath. Tidy the ends by tucking them under.
Cut three slits in the top of the loaf and half bury a halved cherry in each one, with the top of the cherry uppermost. (If you don’t secure the cherries in the dough, they’ll likely fall off as the bread rises in the oven.)
Bake at 180C for around 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it, and if the loaf begins to brown to early, place some baking parchment over the top. (I’ve been known to put the loaf into an empty flour bag to protect it for burning - works well.)
For a shiny finish to the loaf, glaze it with a melted teaspoon of marmalade or similar.

I made this initially as a Christmas (or Celebration) loaf, using strong flour and yeast, but this is just a quicker alternative.
I try and use as little oil as possible - I’m going to try adding ground walnuts next time, to see what effect that has.
Instead of marzipan you could use yellow dried apricots, pineapple or slices of mango.
When it’s sliced, the yellow of the marzipan and the red of the cherries gives a festive appearance.

Monday, 30 April 2018


20 minutes, and this is what you get - light and fluffy dumplings
There I was, this afternoon, watching Somerset vs Yorkshire - and, gripping as the cricket was, there was no denying that we were cold! 

I had on 6 layers, plus a scarf, hat and gloves - and I was still freezing. I found my mind wandering towards dinner: my wife had made me a veg stew, and I thought, what I really need when I get home, would be some dumplings to go with it. Perfect for this weather.

The stew was full of flavour - half a dozen local, in-season veg + a tin of chopped tomatoes gives a wonderful result. All it needed were some dried herbs and some garlic powder. However, I'd purchased a packet of Morrison's vegan sausage and quite fancied a couple of these cut into chunks in the stew. I also added a handful each of green lentils and butter beans from the freezer. The sausages are quite soft, so I dry-fried the chunks to harden them up. (Better to chop them when they're still partly frozen.)

Dumplings: Here's the proper recipe, with all the measurements, but today I simply put 3 heaped dessertspoons of self raising flour in a bowl, along with 1/2 teaspoon of bouillon powder, some garlic powder, a shake of mixed herbs and a teaspoon of nooch. I added a little cold water and a dsp of olive oil and mixed into a soft dough. I divided this into 4, and shaped them into bun shapes, which I then lowered into the stew.

After about only 10 minutes, the pot is steaming - and they've doubled in size. 
I gave the dumplings about 20 minutes, took one out and very carefully - because they're very delicate at this stage - sliced it in half to see what it looked like:

And here they are, light and fluffy.
I had the stew and a couple of dumplings with some new potatoes and spinach (I've just read somewhere that spinach releases more nutrients when it's cooked then when eaten raw), and it was just what the doctor ordered! Absolutely full of flavour, and it reminded me that I should  have dumplings more often.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Tuesday 10th April 2018
More varieties of bread using virtually the same ingredients:

The pie is a bilberry pie (with pastry nibbles) and the fruit loaf has sultanas, dates, cranberries, cherries and chocolate. It was for a coffee morning today - the bilberries are from Lidl (frozen).

Saturday 7th April 2018
Here's another bread using the ingredients for the pop-up pie below. Made them for dinner along with some homemade baked beans (using red kidney beans) and broccoli.

Divid the dough into golf ball sized balls and roll into circles about 10cm across. Place a dessertspoonful - or thereabouts - of lentil and potato curry in the middle and draw up the sides, pinching them together over the top of the filling. Turn over and gently roll out flat. Place in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 5-6 minutes each side.

Here are some other suggestions - pasties, etc - with pics.

Thursday, 5th April 2018
Did a quick breadmaking demo for the potluck - showing just how versatile s/raising flour is.

Simple soda bread

1 mug (200g) s/raising flour
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/3rd mug water

Before you start, put your oven on at 220C and prepare a baking tray - either oil your tray or line it with baking paper (which can be used over and over).

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir with a table knife until the mix comes together, then, using one hand, gather it all together into a dough. Tip the bowl up to let gravity do some of the work and wipe the dough around, picking up any stray bits. Add more water or flour as necessary to achieve a smooth, workable dough.

Knead (flatten and fold) the dough a few times to get all the lumps out, then form into a flat disc about 2cm thick. Cut a cross into the loaf, cutting almost all the way through. Place straight into the oven for 15 or so minutes, checking after about 10 - you may need to swap shelves or turn it round 180 degrees to ensure an even bake.

A soda bread is ready when: there is colour across the bottom; a skewer comes out clean; and it breaks apart cleanly. If there are strings of dough stretching between the two halves, it needs a further few minutes in the oven.

Pop up pie:
Make another dough, using the same ingredients (you may need to adjust the quantities to the size of your pie dish). I often use bouillon powder instead of salt, and add paprika, or curry powder in with the dry ingredients.

Cut off one third - for the lid - and, using flour quite liberally, roll the  larger piece out big enough to fill your pie dish. When you get close to the right size, put the dough on some baking paper and place it over the pie dish. If it's still a little small, roll it out a bit more, on the paper, until you're happy. Lower the crust into the pie dish, pressing into the edges, then add the filling. I used one of my favourites, a simple lentil and potato curry. (Make a fruit pie using a sweet dough, exactly the same way.)

Roll out the lid to the right size, then place it on top of the filling. I generally trim the pastry around the pie*, but last night, I simply folded the excess over the top crust. Place straight into the oven at 220C for 20 minutes, turning it round after 10.

*Use the trimmings, as they are, for breadstick-type nibbles.

I also made pain au chocolat, substituting a dessertspoon of sugar for the salt in the recipe above. The method is described in the link, with pics and a recipe for a yeast-risen dough - which does make for a better product in this case, IMO.

The chocolate I used was the 39p bar from Lidl - dairy free (of course) and Fair Trade.

If you have children around, that chocolate will last about 5 minutes - if you get them to help you make the chocolate rolls, it will occupy a morning, and you'll still have half a bar of chocolate left! :)

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Cheese, potato and broccoli (or onion) pasties

(Makes 8 pasties)

400g (or 2 mugs) strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 rounded teaspoon fresh yeast
250ml (or 2/3rds mug) lukewarm water
Splash of olive oil (optional)

Several large potatoes, cubed and boiled
1 clump of cooked broccoli (or chopped onions)
150g your favourite vegan cheese, grated

Mix these together with whatever herbs, black pepper, etc, you wish

1. Place flour and salt into a mixing bowl, measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast, then add to the flour, followed by the olive oil if using.

2. 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). Holding the bowl with one hand begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with your fingers. Check how the dough feels as you mix – it should stay soft and squidgy – and add more flour or water as needed. 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.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4. 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 a little bigger than a tea plate. Place a couple of spoonfuls of filling on one side of the circle, lift the other side over to cover it and press the two sides together. (Don’t wet the edges first – that’s a pastry technique.) Form a crimp by pushing your fingertips together – one on top of the edge of the dough and the other at the side of the dough.

5. Place each one onto a baking sheet – either oiled or lined with baking paper – and leave to prove until the dough has become puffy.

6. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 12-15 minutes. Look for some shade of brown underneath.

Lentil and potato pasties. Cook 100g of red lentils in enough water – takes about 10-12 minutes once the water has boiled. Separately, boil some cubed potatoes along with a chopped onion and flavourings such as herbs, stock powder and perhaps some curry paste. Once everything is cooked, add the potatoes, etc, to the lentils and simmer until it thickens. Use as in step 4 above.

Update, 15/2/18:
Since working with Taunton Association for the Homeless, I've made these with just s/raising flour - they go straight in the oven once shaped, and are quick and easy to make. No faffing about with the yeast, etc.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

CONSUMING DAIRY - Bad for the environment, bad for the cows - and bad for us!

Dairy products are a relatively recent addition to our diet, having only been consumed over the last 10,000 years - and 5 billion people in the world cannot tolerate it.

Michael Klaper MD, on The Dangers of Dairy.

Dairy is Scary - A 5 minute video on the brutal truth behind the dairy industry.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine - What the Dairy Industry doesn’t want you to know.

Why milk is bad for us - what the science says.

The environmental impact of the dairy industry.