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 April 2020

BREAD BOWLS - from trenchers to naan breads

Or: From trenchers, through bread bowls, and pizzas (with a nod to the focaccia) to naans…

I call my blog “No bread is an island”, since I maintain that every bread is linked to at least one other.

The rolls I’ve just made (and turned into bread bowls) exemplify that.

Here’s the recipe for the bread: 
100g (4oz) each strong white flour and strong wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 dessertspoon pesto (optional)
1 dessertspoon curry paste (optional)
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast stirred into 125g lukewarm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix into a dough using a stiff palette knife or a table knife. Once it forms into a dough, get your hands in. Add more flour or water as needed to obtain a soft, squeezable dough. Place on the worktop (without flour) and knead (flatten and fold) for about 30 seconds. If it needs more flour, add some back in the bowl, then bring it out and knead a little more.

Divide in 2 and shape each piece into a large roll. My method is to place the rolls into a stainless steel roasting dish with baking parchment above and below, then a baking tray over the top, so that the rolls, as they rose, would flatten out.

When they’d risen sufficiently (which didn’t take long since I’d used loads of yeast), I baked these at 210C (425F). After 10 minutes the bottoms were well done (I wanted the bottoms to be really well cooked). Then I removed the baking tray and turned the rolls over, giving them about 8 minutes this time.

Nice and flat on top
I then carefully cut around the top of one, hacked out most of the crumb and, for my dinner, had this filled with leftover bolognaise sauce (to which I’d added red kidney beans, chunks of seitan and curry sauce) and had this with oven chips. 

I tried to leave a 1cm thick edge all the way round
This was well worth doing. The bread was so tasty, that for supper last night I hacked out the top of the second roll, removed the crumb and ate it on its own. (I can’t recall ever doing that before!) The second bowl I had for lunch today - again filled with curry.

I want to try these again with a more liquid filling. Not really a soup fan, but I'll happily experiment in the interests of science!

Thursday, 2 April 2020


[Latest version at the foot of this post] [And here's the haggis en croute I had for the last two Christmases - and I shall be having again this time]

Don’t know why it took me so long to get around to making my own version of a veggie haggis. I found it very simple - similar to making a nut roast, and I’ve made a few of those.

I looked at a few recipes on the BBC Food board and on the net – and just used what I had in the cupboard. None of these amounts, it seems to me, are set in stone – play around with them as you will:

Olive oil
An onion, finely chopped
Large carrot, finely chopped
Some mushrooms, finely chopped
100g red lentils
Around 500ml vegetable stock
200g or so cooked red kidney beans
50g chopped, mixed nuts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Good splash of red wine
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Pinch cayenne pepper
200g porridge oats
Freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onion and carrot in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the lentils and the stock
When the lentils are cooked add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, adding extra liquid if necessary.
Turn the mixture into a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake for 45-60 minutes at 190°C, 375°F or Gas Mark 5.

I had it with a spicy tomato sauce, roast potatoes and veg.

This made enough for 3 good meals. Divide what’s left into two (say) and get it in the freezer quickly. (I found it very hard not to keep picking at it while it was lying around in the kitchen!)

I’ll certainly make this again – and I won’t be buying McSweens haggis at £4.30 again – although I might be tempted by Hall’s haggis at £1.50 when next they become available (around Burns’ night!).

Next time I’ll:
Include celery and possibly cabbage;
Include more mushrooms;
Increase the amount of red kidney beans – or add a similar amount of other beans, such as black-eyed beans or butter beans;
Add more cayenne pepper
Make a bigger one!

Here's the last third, just defrosted:

13th November 2011.
Made this again today, using less porridge oats and reducing the stock:

Onion, celery, pepper, mushroom and carrot – all chopped small
100g of lentils cooked in 300g water
200g vegetable stock
2 dsps each mushroom sauce and vegan Worcester sauce
1 dsp tomato puree
50g chopped, sweet chestnuts
240g red kidney beans
Half a dozen s-d-tomatoes, chopped
50g chopped nuts (which I ground in my spice mill)
100g porridge oats
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 dessertspoons nutritional yeast
Herbs and spices to taste

Gently fry the onions, etc, for 5-10 minutes. 
Cook the lentils and add the stock, mushroom and Worcester sauce, tomato puree and herbs, then stir in the fried vegetables, nuts, chestnuts, beans, s-d-tomatoes and the porridge oats and stir thoroughly. At this stage I generally taste the mix and adjust the flavour if need be.

I omitted the simmering stage and put the mix straight into loaf tins, lined with baking parchment.

Cook for about 45-50 minutes at 190C 

I had some for dinner tonight and there's over 800g of it left - probably another 5 or so meals, I reckon!