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, 25 February 2020

MY OUTREACH TECHNIQUE, as an Animal Rights Activist

I'm one of the organisers of Anonymous for the Voiceless, Taunton Chapter. We have two Cubes of Truth each month - second Saturday and fourth Sunday of the month. We can be contacted on our Facebook page. We're always looking for new members - people to speak up on behalf of the animals - and joining AV is the quickest way I know to increase your circle of vegan friends.

This is a post about the way I outreach at Cubes, etc. Everybody has their own approach - please feel free to comment with any of your ideas. It's a work in progress, and I'm always trying to improve.

So many people walk past a Cube of Truth, I’m always grateful if someone stops by. But they don’t have to stop - often if someone slows their pace, whilst looking at the screen, that’s enough for me.
My conversation starter at a Cube generally goes something like this:
Hi! (Big beaming smile) You wondering why we’re here? If the answer is ‘No’, then ‘OK, have a good day.’ End of.
If the answer is ‘Yes’, then my response, generally, is ‘We’re Anonymous for the Voiceless’ (Shows logo on front of hoodie), “There are about a 1000 cities round the world doing this sort of thing on behalf of the animals. Animals do have a voice, but no-one listens to them. We’re showing the public all the different way animals are exploited…And we’re asking, do you think there’s a disconnect between the nicely wrapped and packaged meat on the supermarket shelf and what happens to the animals before it gets there?’ As I’m asking this, I’m bringing my arm over in a sweeping gesture - and often, before I’ve finished the sentence, I get agreement. This can vary between a concerned face, a nod, or a verbal acknowledgement. Then I ask (and this is the question I always ask), ‘How does watching this footage make you feel?’ - indicating the screen. (Sometimes I’ll preface this by asking if they’ve seen this type of footage before - not always, it depends on how whether the onlooker seems to be in a hurry, or whether they seem to be willing to stay and talk. If they have seen this before, i sometimes ask, 'What have you seen here today?', and the conversation goes in a different direction.)
To the question, 'How does this make you feel?', generally their response is either ‘Sad, bad or mad.’ Whatever word they use, I use it back to them, ‘What is it about it that makes you feel sad (or bad, or mad)?”
Other questions:
Do you think we should be doing this to animals?
I’d like to ask, “Why do you think this is happening?” But I want to avoid using ‘Why’, since this can have the effect of forcing the respondent to defend a position, so instead, I ask:
‘What do you think causes this to happen?’
‘Do you think we need to eat meat to survive?’
Other comments I might make:
‘We’re asking people to put themselves in the position of the animals.’ Depending what’s on the screen: “How do you think that mother cow feels when it sees its baby, which it has carried for 9 months - same as us - taken away from her?’ They mourn for days, weeks. Or: ‘Can you imagine what it’s like to be in a CO2-filled chamber, choking to death, lungs burning from the inside? And this is an RSPCA-approved method of killing pigs.’
‘Is there anything more innocent than a day-old chick’ - this in response to seeing male chicks ground up alive on the first day of life.
The inspiration for most of this comes from Alex Bez, of Amazing Vegan Outreach, which I urge you to visit. He has a series of webinars, talks, etc, on all aspects of outreach - from how to build rapport (very important), to the best questions you can ask to turn people vegan, to handling any objection that comes your way. He’s very upbeat - considering objections to be opportunities, for instance.
I try and be mindful of the animals at all times - so, if the conversation goes off at a tangent - about health, or the environment, I'll always bring it back to what's on the screen

Sunday, 9 February 2020

VEGAN PARKIN - the concise recipe (And Ginger Cake)

(The story behind this recipe.) (Ginger cake recipe at the foot of this post)
Simple Parkin (vegan)

100g porridge oats
100g wholemeal flour (for a gluten-free (ish) version, substitute with Dove's gluten free flour)
2 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
4 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g sugar
100g blackstrap molasses (or treacle if you can’t find molasses)
220g lukewarm water
25g vegetable oil

       Preheat the oven to 180C [or see microwave version below - recommended]
       Measure the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice and stir to distribute the ingredients
       Gently heat the molasses and water together to approximately blood heat and add to dry ingredients
       Add the oil to the mix and stir – initially with a large spoon or spatula, then with a whisk
       Pour in to an oiled and lined 20cm (8” inch) cake tin
       Put in the oven and cook for between 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
       Leave on a cooling rack in the tin for ten minutes
Turn out on to the cooling tray

With a traditional parkin it is recommended you leave it for several days to mature. This is supposed to enhance the taste. I’ve no idea whether this works with this recipe – as, in this house, the parkin disappears very quickly after cooling. It is simply gorgeous from the moment it is cool enough to eat.

The only way I’ve found not to gorge on this cake is to, as soon as possible, cut it into, say, 50g pieces, then put them in the freezer. This way I can allow myself one piece per day.

If anyone has the strength and fortitude to keep the parkin for several days to see if it does in fact improve with keeping, I’d be very glad to hear from them!

Variation: For a gluten free version of this, simply use Dove’s gluten free flour in place of the wholemeal flour - and you'll need GF oats.

27th July.
Following a conversation on the Wildfood forum about microwaving carrot cake, I decided I'd try this with parkin.

I put my 800w microwave on for 3 minutes - and the parkin looked like this:

Baked in the oven my silicon cake form contains the parkin easily - but it rose much more in the microwave, as you can see! 
Once it's turned out onto the cooling rack, you can't tell the difference between a cake made in the oven - or in the microwave!
Comparing the two methods of baking:
40 minutes in the oven (with 10 minutes warm-up time), as against 6 minutes in the microwave - and you get a better risen cake!

Ginger cake (latest attempt below)

200g s/raising flour
100g sugar
4-5 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
100g blackstrap molasses (or treacle if no molasses)
300g water

Measure the flour, sugar, ginger and mixed spice and stir to distribute the ingredients
       Gently heat the molasses and water together to approximately blood heat and add to dry ingredients
       Add the oil to the mix and stir – initially with a large spoon or spatula, then with a whisk
       Pour in to 20cm (8” inch) silicon cake former
       Place in the (800W) microwave for approx 8 minutes

Latest variation - 8th Feb 2020

This was merely leaving out the sugar and doubling up the blackstrap molasses. Gives a deeper flavour, I feel.