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.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

My Daily Bread (2)

For almost a day I thought I'd lost the contents of this entire post - extending from the beginning of May to the beginning of November! 

I entered the last couple of day's activities and clicked on Publish. It hung up and I clicked on it a couple of times with no effect. Then I hit the reload button on the URL line - with the result that I lost the entire post! All I had was what was in Clipboard.

I went on and bemoaned my fate - And Riocaz came to the rescue.

Here's the resuscitated thread (thanks a million, Riocaz):

(Apologies for the different fonts and unexplained gaps - this all happened whilst I was rebuilding the post. I'll sort it when I get time. In the meantime, I'm starting a new 'My Daily Bread' post very soon.)

Rather than have separate threads for every event in my working week, and all the breads I make at home, I thought I’d try having one post in which I’ll chronicle all my daily bread adventures.

(To keep this post on the top of the page, I shall date it a week or so in advance.)

I’ll post any recipes I mention separately and link to them as soon as they’re up on the blog.

Here's the link to the first My Daily Bread thread. It was getting rather long, so I thought I'd start another one.

Saturday 5th November.
In preparation for my day with the Occupy Bristol folks, I spent the afternoon making 6 different breads in the frying pan - soda bread baps, sausage and mustard parcels, two types of lidded pizzas, chocolate spread doughnuts and mincemeat doughnuts. Story and pics.

Friday 4th November.
Last session of my Family Learning course today - made Sausage parcels and jam doughnuts. In the afternoon I made some bread rolls for dinner at my fortnightly care home.
Tuesday 25th October.
Terrific session this morning, making 30+ pizzas with some youngsters - in my 4 small ovens, this time, rather than in the pizza oven I've been using at Halcon.

This was an Activity Day, run by the Priorswood Community Centre which is just a shop in the middle of a row of shops. But there is an overhang in front of the shops, which meant we were able to site three tables outside for the preparation - the ovens were all inside, of course. The weather played its part with brilliant sunshine all morning. (Lucky, 'cos it poured all afternoon!)

We started slowly, with 4 youngsters in the first half hour, but it built up and at one time I had 8 pizzas in the oven, with 5 proving! We were hoping for about 24, so we exceeded our expectations - and I only slightly singed one pizza, so that was an improvement! None of the participants had made bread before, but they all went home with a recipe and instructions to 'pass it on'!

Thanks to Rebecca and her team which provided me with great support - supplies of coffee, lots of washing up, standing by the ovens, etc. I couldn't have done it on my own!

It was also really useful to have all the activity taking place outside on the pavement, since passers-by couldn't miss us. Great publicity for the centre - and for breadmaking.

[Links to pics to come, hopefully]

Monday 17th October.
I've started volunteering in a local Family Centre, working with parents of young children. They do a different activity each week, and this week it was breadmaking. We had 4 families - 3 of them new to breadmaking. Each family made a batch of dough which was formed into a multitude of shapes. I'd forgotten my iPhone, so I couldn't take any pics - which was a pity since one of the mothers made a brilliant spider!

Later on I had my last evening class at Burnham, making a Christmas loafand a pane casereccio. This turned out to be a session with a difference!

The fuse blew on my 4 ovens, so that suddenly, halfway through the session, we weren't baking!

Full story on my Burnham evening class post.

Friday 14th October
Super session this morning. Most of the school had gone on a trip, so my Family Learning session was cancelled. Instead I was asked to teach ten reception class youngsters. It was a terrific session with great support from the TAs and the class teacher.
The youngsters were very keen to learn and got well stuck in – literally in one or two cases!J

Beginning whilst I was demonstrating how I put a batch of dough together, the teacher began drawing a schema of the process. I was so impressed with this I told her I was pinching it for my blog. Here it is:
It's easy to see from this that 1 mug of flour, 1/3rd of a mug of water, a little salt and a teaspoon of yeast are all that's required to make a batch of dough. Each child then had half a batch to work with.

These diagrams are very effective - combined with spoken instructions, of course

The children paired up with each pair making one batch of dough which they divided between them. Each child then made their own shapes which were then left to prove, then baked:
The six rolls at the bottom were made from my demo dough - and left for the staff.
I found it extremely liberating to work in a part of the school I don’t see very often, and work with some wonderful children and such dedicated professionals. The youngsters really enjoyed themselves, and I came away feeling quite uplifted. I consider myself very fortunate to do the job I do!

Thursday 6th October.
I was keen to make one of the breads that had been suggested on my The Fresh Loaf - crackers! This, in the original recipe, was made with a sourdough and took about 7 hours to prepare. We made ours with a simple, quickly made bread dough - and they turned out pretty good, even if I do say so myself! [Pic to come.]

The recipe we followed included poppy  seeds and sesame seeds - both in the dough and sprinkled on top (after brushing with oil). 

My colleague Emma, who supported me in the session, was so impressed with them that she declared she was going to go straight out, get herself a pizza cutter, and make these at home with her daughter.

We only made two trays of these - we could have made a lot more , since each batch of dough would have made 4 trays of crackers - and made fancy dinner rolls with the rest.

In the afternoon session we made iced buns.

Tuesday 4th October.
Wow! Nearly a week since I updated this post. Trouble is, I've got so many posts I want keep to up to date - my class at Burnhammy top recipe for studentsstudents' portfolio, my chiminea exploits, etc, that this one takes a bit of a back seat.

Plus I started this thread on 'The Fresh Loaf' forum, where I'm also  a member. They take breadmaking very seriously on there, and I wanted to inject a little levity and show that bread just wasn't about loaves and rolls. Trouble is, if you sign up to receive a daily email from those guys, you get notified of about 50 or more contributions - which all need to be looked at! And before you know it, an hour's gone by! I have to be careful not to open the email too often!

So, this thread gets neglected. What I'll endeavour to do now is to put any latest info on here - then go back and try and fill in the gaps.

For dinner tonight I made a pane casareccio stuffed with roasted veg, pesto and passata - plus a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. (Pics to come)

Monday 3rd October.
3rd session of the five week course at Burnham. 6 students all came early and got straight into making Apfel kuchens and Tartes Alsace. They've all enthusiastically taken to breadmaking, with one of them, Rosemary, vowing she'll never make another cake or buy a loaf of bread. "Breadmaking's got it all," she said, "Mug of flour, some salt, water and yeast for a savoury dough; use sugar instead of salt and you've got a sweet dough. Add other things to it and you can make anything!" Not having a computer herself, she frequently visits the library to - among other things - check out this blog!

Hi Rosemary!

Thursday 29th September.
Croissants - made with margarine straight out of the fridge - and focacciain the first session:
Ken (one of  the support workers) had a lot to do with these - much neater than the ones I did!
Brushed with a sugar glaze 
The margarine was very soft, so it leaked out quite a bit during the rolling out - much better to freeze whatever fat you're using, first. Never mind, I was told they tasted gorgeous! 
And Vicky's focaccia
In the afternoon session Matt wanted curried Chelsea buns with cherries - Eric made mushroom parcels (stuffed with Phili and pesto) - and Guy and Will made cheese rolls

From left to right - cheese rolls, Chelseas and stuffed mushrooms
Wednesday 28th September.
Today has been a brilliant day - at times exhilarating! It's my birthday, and I've been indulging myself all day with the lovely vegan treats that my family provided for me. Bars of chocolate, spiced biscuits, ginger cake, chocolate covered marzipan - but best of all was a vegan chocolate cakethat my wife made for me whilst I was out at work on Monday evening. She doubled up the recipe and I came home to two large cakes - one of which has gone in the freezer, and the other one, well most of it has gone inside me! This recipe really makes a splendid cake!

The exhilarating bit came when I took advantage of the wonderful weather we've had today - 25/26C and a cloudless, sunny day - to bring out my chiminea again. I made 5 pizzas in double-quick time and really think I've cracked it!

Pics and more story of today's breadmaking to come.

Absolutely magic day - I'm nursing a warm glow, ATM!

Monday 26th September.
2nd session at Burnham - students progressing well, no longer looking like beginners. Photo's are not great - sometimes they're a bit of an afterthought as we have to get a lot done in the two hours!

Friday 23rd September.
2nd session of my Family Learning session - loaves and rolls, plus pain au chocolat and iced buns. 

In the afternoon at my fortnightly care home we made these large jam tarts:

Blackcurrant jam tarts - went down a treat!
Thursday 22nd September.
banoffee pie (banana and Mars bar) calzones, plus a sesame and poppy seed loaf in my first session:

And 4 batches of apple turnovers - one of them curried, with glace cherries alongside the apple and sultana filling! No pics since I was in a hurry to get away.

Monday 19th September.
Session with a difference this afternoon. I went to meet a group of young mothers to talk about early development (another of my passions), and began by making pizzas together. 

Then later I began my evening course out at Burnham with 6 students, 4 women and 2 men. None of them had made bread before - except one of them had a breadmaker - and were all suitably impressed with the whole procedure. They each made a fruit soda bread and a batch of fancy dinner rolls. "You've made it so easy," one said - almost accusingly! Another said she was put off by the length of kneading she thought that bread required.

Thursday 15th September.
2 contrasting sessions at my weekly care home today - in the first session everyone made pesto and pepper loaves, and in the second session each student made a different bread.

We made dents in the dough with the back of a teaspoon, placed half a teaspoon or so of pesto in the holes and covered them with roasted peppers.
This shows the pesto under the pepper. The crumb isn't bad for a bread that was made in about 1 and a quarter hours.
The rest of the focaccias. I like pesto and bread, but it does tend to creep about a bit and become a bit messy.

The four different breads by the second groups of students. 
 Guy made the focaccia, without pesto - just to use up the jar of peppers. The 4 wraps on the top right contained glace cherries and grapes and the dough had dried fruit and curry powder in it - Matt again! Eric made the fresh fruit salad loaf bottom right,  - a fruit dough covered with leftover fruit salad. It's a cross between a schiaciatta con l'uva and an apfel kuchen! Finally, Will made the potato pizza top left with leftover potatoes and some grated cheese.

Friday 9th September.
Had 5 breadmakers in my session at my fortnightly care home, and together we made 5 chocolate and sultana loaves.

Thursday 8th September.
Experiments with courgettes today in the first session in my Thursday care home. I've known for years about the popularity of courgette bread - especially in the States (just google 'zucchini bread'!), but I've never made it before - thought it was time I did.

So, with 6 students we made:
Belgian buns - both with and without grated courgette.
Chelsea buns - without
3 focaccias - one plain, one with courgette and one with grated courgette with the skin left on, so bits of green were visible through the loaf.

Those who sampled the sweet breads could  find no difference between them. However, the focaccia with the courgette (no skin) had a better flavour than the plain focaccia. I didn't get to sample the other one.

Focaccias, Chelsea buns and Belgian buns
 In the afternoon I only had three students, Eric, Guy and Matt. Eric and Guy made chocolate and banana bread (Eric had some raisins in his dough) and Matt made a curried loaf with grapes and cherries and two chocolates from a box of 'Heroes' inside, with grapes on top of the loaf.

Inside Matt's loaf - couldn't immediately find the chocolate!

Friday 2nd September.
I wanted to make a couple of 'Birthday loaves' for some friends of mine (twins) who've reached the grand old age of 70.

It's going to be a richer version of my Christmas loaf:

To that end I've been soaking some dried apricots in Benedictine for the past fortnight. 

It wasn't a smooth operation - I got several things wrong which turned what should have been a couple of hours job into a 2-day job!
Fortunately for me, due to the forgiving nature of bread and bread doughs, all ended well.

Here's the full story (including pics).

Thursday 1st September.

Sizzlers - cheese and pepper or mushroom wraps for my first group today. In the afternoon Matt was disappointed there were no marshmallows in the cupboard as he wanted to make the same as last week (see August 25th) so he made curried Chelsea buns - the other students made chocolate twists:

Wednesday 31st August.
My sister-in-law, daughter and grandchildren came to visit for the day - and, amongst all the other activities going on - table tennis, swimming, etc, the kids all wanted to make bread.

2 wanted pizza and one wanted to make pain au chocolat 'Because they're my dad's favourites!'

Here they are, 3 enthusiastic breadmakers - Millie aged 12, Ethan aged 10 and Keane aged 3:

Concentrating on mixing the dough

Keane is dividing the dough using his hand as a knife - he's certainly a switched on 3-year-old! Millie has just rolled out her pizza and Ethan is just kneading his dough. Pic taken through the window!

And here's what they made:

Great stuff - a good time was had by all!

Thursday 25th August.
Blow me down if they didn't want pizza this morning in the care home! Just the bog standard cheese and tomato. In the afternoon Matt wanted to make another curried loaf with glace cherries - but there were none to be found. Never mind, said Matt, there's some marshmallows here! So he made curried marshmallow and grape bread! 

The rest made jam tarts with tinned peaches (with a bread dough, of course!)

Wednesday 24th August.
The last Halcon Fun Day firing today - I had the pleasure of welcoming my mate Terry (otherwise known as 'Crannyfradock') to Somerset for the day. He looked after the oven whilst I was able to concentrate on the pizza making. Full story here.

Thursday 18th August.
Chocolate and beetroot bread this morning. Beetroot bread is another one of those breads that every time I make it I realise I should make it more often. Smooth, soft and spongy bread always results - it just lifts the bread to a higher plane!

(Memo to self: Next time I make a vegan chocolate sponge I'll include some beetroot!)

One of the care workers, Sam, made a chocolate swirl loaf - sweetened bread dough rolled out, spread with chocolate spread, rolled up and shaped into an 'S'. No beetroot for Sam - she really dislikes all vegetables!

In the afternoon, Matt made a curried 'Celebration' loaf using peach slices, cherries and grapes. The others made the same - only minus the curry!

Wednesday 17th August.
Another fantastic day with the Dragon oven! Between 45 and 50 pizzas (we sort of lost count a bit) in 2 hours and 32 minutes!

I'm really getting the hang of the WFO - one of the pizzas took 40 seconds!40 seconds! I couldn't believe it myself.

Pics and full story on the Dragon thread.

Monday 15th August.
Off to the cricket this evening, so I thought I'd take some pizza (which meant I had to make pizza for dinner for everyone!). Myself and my daughter wanted vegan pizzas, whilst my wife wanted a potato pizza and my granddaughter just wanted cheese and tomato:

Granddaughter's and wife's...

...and mine and my daughter's
I also wanted to take along something sweet to snack on, so decided to make a chocolate spread (vegan), glace cherry and walnut plait. I'll post a link to this soon, but basically the plait was made with three tubes of bread, each containing those three ingredients. Pics of this to come also.

Thursday 4th August.
Found some marzipan in the cupboard so I thought we'd make someChristmas loaves - well, at this time of year I'd better call them 'Celebration' loaves. They're still colourful and bright! 

These are filled with marzipan and glace cherries so that each slice is full of colour 
Later on we made some cheese and potato pasties - plus Matt had remembered the curried grape loaf he made last time, so that's what he wanted to make again.

Bread pasties filled with curried cheese and potato

Matt's curried schiacciata con l'uva
Wednesday 3rd August.
Another 47 pizzas today - with many youngsters away on a trip. Once again a great time was had by all - and I'm really getting to grip with the WFO (at last!).

Wednesday 27th July.
Made 60 pizzas in the Dragon WFO at the local Fun Day - I was only expecting to make about 30! Bit hectic - well, a lot hectic, but it was hugely enjoyable! I've put the story up on the Dragon thread and I'll post pics as soon as I can get round to it.

Sunday 24th July.
Had a lovely email from Keith, my student/assistant at last Wed's demo for the IAM:

[Tried to upload the pic and keep getting 'Server rejected' message! I'll keep trying!]

Managed to get the pic on Picasaweb and bring it over from there. However, I couldn't rotate the pic as I wanted. Still a good looking pair of loaves, Keith! 

Saturday 22nd July.
Had a lot of fun playing with my chiminea, first time for a couple of weeks. The weather was perfect - and I successfully made four pizzas in 20 minutes - the first one taking 3 minutes! The full story with pics here.

Thursday 21st July.
I took my homemade vegan chocolate spread into work - my weekly care home sessions - and made some chocolate schiacciata con l'uva with the residents. Divided the dough into two pieces, rolled them out int circles, covered one with the chocolate spread and placed the other circle on top. Then placed some grapes on top of that.

For the second session we mostly made apple turnovers, although Matt, who'd seen the morning's bread, wanted to make a curried version. So, perhaps the world's first curried schiacciata con l'uva! [Pics to come]

Wednesday 20th July.
In the evening I did a bread demonstration for my local branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, of which I'm an associate member. I asked for a beginner from the audience to come up and make some bread alongside me - and Keith kindly volunteered.

My aim was to show that anyone could make bread, so I got him to measure a mug of flour, 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/3 mug water and a teaspoon of yeast into a bowl. While he was doing that I made a fruit dough, intending to make enough Chelsea buns for everyone.

Keith made half a dozen rolls which we put to one side. I divided the fruit dough into two and we both rolled out a large rectangle and shaped the Chelsea buns. Whilst doing that I pointed out that this mix would make a batch of spicy fruit buns, or hot cross buns. It could also be turned into a fruit loaf or a German apple cake or a Swedish tea ring - or, covered with grapes it could be a schiacciata con l'uva.

After a little bit about how I came into teaching breadmaking and a short Q&A session I went out to the kitchen to bake the bread. Once the business part of the meeting was over, the buns and rolls were ready to accompany the tea and coffee.

Tuesday 19th July.
Last session at Williton today - yum yums and croissants plus soda bread, both plain and fruited.

All the way out to Williton I was smugly thinking. "No problems today - got the ovens in my car this time!" Until I arrived to find I'd forgot to transfer my mixing bowls, rolling pins etc from my wife's car to mine!

Once again my students came to the rescue, two of them going home for some spare equipment.

Sunday 17th July.
Thought I'd do a stuffed mushroom en croute for Sunday dinner - took a couple of large field mushrooms, stuffed them with vegan pesto (Meridian) and mushroom pate and wrapped them in a bread dough [recipe to follow]. I had a bit of dough left over so I did a parcel with 2 good-sized button mushrooms which I stuffed with pesto and houmous. With the dough I chopped off I made a couple of breadsticks:

The dough was made with sun-dried tomatoes and curry powder
I preferred the look of the one on the left, with the mushroom on top of the stuffing, but the one on the right is probably better since the stuffing is on the top. Haven't tried that one yet - it's in the freezer until next Sunday.

Have to say it was jolly tasty!
Friday 15th July.
Last Family Learning of the term - made cheese rolls and a fruit loaf.

And at my fortnightly care home we made Mars bar and apricot parcels.

Thursday 14th July.
Two sessions today at my weekly care home. Forgot to take pictures of the first session - Italian chocolate bread with dates, apricots and walnuts and cocoa powder. The second session had a first for me - mixed grill loaf:

I have no compunction about using leftovers in my sessions - often it is food that would be otherwise thrown away.
Three (two and a half, really) mixed grill loaves and two batches of  Chelsea buns. The yellow-coloured ones were made guessed it, curry fiend Matt!
Wednesday 13th July.
Tonight I made 13 sourdough rolls - first time I've made these. Full story  will appear on the sourdough thread tomorrow, hopefully.

Monday 11th July.
I went to my grandchildren's new school, Glebe PS and offered my services for a breadmaking session on Monday morning. I was given 6 year one children and decided to make iced buns and some freeform rolls with them.

The iced buns, shaped by the students - one for each member of the class.
And iced by them as well - although I did a few. The better looking ones were iced by the  youngsters!
I showed them a couple of shapes - then they did their own thing:

Unusually, I've written the numbers on the b-parchment. This is because, when I said I would give them all a number to identify their bread  - generally made out of dough and placed on top of the bread - one wag said she wanted the number one million!

You can see the beginning of the number at the bottom of the pic.
The freeform bread was bagged up and went home with the children.

Tuesday 13th July.
Today I completely surpassed myself! I had the 4th (out of 5) session with my Williton students. As I pulled into the car park at the Adult Ed centre, I suddenly realised I had left my ovens at home! There are no ovens in the centre, so I've been using 3 of my small portable ovens - but they were still sitting in the garage at home - 30 minutes drive away, back in Taunton!

I was all set to drive back to Taunton and get them, but cooler heads prevailed - it was suggested that the students would probably be able to take their own breads home with them and bake them in their own ovens. Which is what happened. The students were incredibly understanding and everyone was happy to take their bread home with them to bake. But it was very embarrassing. I've forgotten most things in the past - I forgot the flour on one occasion, when I was doing my teacher training and I was being observed. The observer - one of my tutors - had to nip to the Co-op about half a mile away to get some for me. As he plonked the bags of flour down in front of me on his return, he said, "I have to tell you Paul - this is a first for me!" I'm happy to report that we're still friends today!

We were making ciabatta - plain or with sun-dried tomatoes and olives - and Tarte Alsace (thinly rolled out dough spread with crème fraîche covered with thinly sliced onions and lardons of bacon - although, as you'll see, there were a few variations on that!):

Some of the group assembling the Tarte Alsace
Some variations on a theme:

Here's a ciabatta dough with the sun-dried tomato and oil added, before mixing.

I could have said add these at the beginning - but I forgot! Fortunately bread is very forgiving and you can add almost anything at the dough stage.
I was all prepared to lend some of the students a mixing bowl (I carry 15 of these around with me), but having seen me demonstrate how to scrape the dough out of the bowl (after it's risen in the bowl), almost all of them took the dough home on some baking parchment.

I was able to lend several baking trays to the students - there's one more session next week, so I've no worries I won't get them back. Thank goodness it wasn't the last session of the course!

Next week we're looking at all aspects of making soda bread, plus laminated doughs - yum yums, croissants, etc.

In the afternoon I had a session with 10 year 5 kids in Bishops Hull PS, so I had to go home to collect the ovens. Fortunately we finished the morning session early since there was no cooking to do - just managed to get home, get the ovens and get to the school on time.

We - 10 students, a support worker and me - made fancy dinner rolls plus a lot of original shapes!

March of the hedgehogs...
...and in formation!
Very annoyed with myself for singeing the hedgehogs - but Sarah didn't mind. The plaque at the bottom reads  'Sunnyside' - by Emily.

A gruesome skull - by Josh.

Another plaque - by guess who?
One more week to go with this class - this same group will make jam doughnuts and pain au chocolat.

Over the last 5 weeks I've had the class of 28 in three groups for two weeks each.)

Sunday 10th July.
Not doing too well posting recently, but I've finally managed to upload all the pics I took from the Bethesda Baking Bash

Whilst there I made a white sourdough for my wife, using the sourdough provided by the organisers, to a recipe from here. Unfortunately I left it behind - with all the other bread I'd baked over the two days. I didn't taste it - and I didn't even take a photo of it!

So there was nothing for it but to make another one - at home this time, using my starter - using what I'd learned from the weekend.

And here it is. The start of the story is here and the rest - with pics at every stage - will be posted very soon. In the meantime, here's the loaf I made: 

Tuesday 5th July.
LOTS to tell you about - four baking sessions over last Thursday and Friday, plus an entire weekend of baking with 20 other bakers at the 'BethesdaBakin'5' - including my most successful sourdough to date.

Plus some domestic baking which included another sourdough even better than the first!

For all of that I must have about 20 pics which I'll get up here as soon as possible.

Monday 27th June.
Spent all day at my daughter's primary school today, where she teaches year 5. Had 74 students in the day, which makes 140+ kids I've taught in the last 8 days! Lots of pics - and a comparison between leavened and unleavened bread - here:

My daughter wondered what would happen if we left out the yeast. Naturally, the bread didn't rise - but there was also a surprise - for me at any rate. The unrisen bread didn't colour at all, although it had the same time in the oven as my bread, which did contain yeast.

Saturday 25th June.
After taking Alfie (my 5-year-old grandson) to his football practice - where he won a trophy for being the best player that day - I made pizzas with my grandchildren. 3 cheese and tomato and one vegan:

The vegan pizza was topped with mushroom pate and a mixture of vegan pesto and tomato puree

Thursday 23rd June.
Gave a young Spanish friend of mine her first breadmaking lesson this morning. I needed some wholemeal rolls so I showed her how I put a batch together using the 'several short kneadings' technique (method B). 

500g wholemeal and 100g white. The rolls finished up at 105g, roughly.
She then went ahead and made a chocolate and banana loaf:

Carmen's first breadmaking effort - it was delicious!
Carmen has promised to go back to Spain and teach her family and friends how to make bread. And the results will appear here!

Wednesday 22nd June.
Third and final session at the school today - 20 year 4 kids including my granddaughter Phoebe. All the pics - and story - are here.

Over the past three days, over 60 youngsters at the school have been introduced to breadmaking - and discovered just how much fun making it can be!

On Monday I've got 77 youngsters at my daughter's school to teach. Can't wait!

Tuesday 21st June.
2nd session today, again went very well. 30 year one kids, everyone (including me and the teacher and TA - I think!)  having fun!

Monday 20th June.
First of the sessions in my grandchildren's school today - story and pics arehere.

Sunday 19th June.
Not a lot to report over the last few days, but the next few are going to be...interesting.

My wife and I are looking after the grandchildren for a week - whilst friends of ours are staying at our place. And I've volunteered to go in and bake in my grandchildren's school next week - a session in each of their classes. So that's 20 year 3s, 30 year 1s and 20 year 4s. They're going to have to share batches - 2 to a batch in the smaller classes and 3 to a batch in the larger class.

On the following Monday I'm attempting to teach my daughter's entire year group in one day - that's 80+ year 5s!

In all of these sessions we'll just be making freeform shapes - from fancy dinner rolls to house bread to mice, caterpillars, hedgehogs, etc. Plus lots of shapes the kids come up with!

I'll post some pics of the best ones, of course!

Tuesday 14th June.
Busy day today. In the morning I began a new course at Williton - 8 students (although only 6 came) with varying degrees of experience in making bread.

The students made Chelsea buns, spicy fruit buns and hot cross buns plus a choice of focaccia or fancy dinner rolls. A couple of students made both. 

We're far more limited here compared to running the sessions in a school HE area. All we've got are my 3 small ovens which can take 3 trays of bread at a pinch - generally 2 is all they can manage. So we won't make be able to make as many varieties of bread as I'd like.

In the afternoon I had another group of 9 year 5 students at Bishops Hull primary - making fancy dinner rolls - or, as the students would have it, 'shapes'!

The bottom right shape is a laser gun
The caterpillar was truly frightening!
Then, when I got home I felt the urge to see the chiminea in action again, so I baked four pizzas over a couple of hours, one of which I had for dinner. I'll put all the details on my chiminea thread - with pics - as soon as I'm able.

Saturday 11th June.
Made 2 dozen rolls undercover in the evening - 12 of these for my daughter to take home with her.

The batch on the left definitely benefited from the extra wait whilst the batch on the right were baking.
Friday 10th June.
3rd week of my Family Learning course at Halcon - pizzas and petit pain au chocolat. It's very difficult to get a pizza with a crisp bottom in the new ovens - the old one was brilliant, having a bottom element. So I crisped the bottoms by placing an oven tray over one of the hobs - although not touching it. I must remember to get the students to make 2 small pizzas which would fit into our small frying pan - much the best way of crisping up a pizza, IMO.

Thursday 9th June.
Back to normal with two sessions at my weekly care home. In the first session we made a variety of seeded 'animal' breads:

The roll at the back on the right is a hedgehog - supposed to be!
And also a name plaque for one of our students:

This will keep for quite a while if  it's varnished!

In the afternoon session, Matt who'd seen the mouse we'd made earlier, wanted to make curried mice; and here they are:

Are these mice? Or tadpoles?
The rest of the group made iced buns.

To shape the mice, divide your dough into smaller pieces by using the side of your hand as a knife. Keep rolling the side of your hand back and forth until the dough separates. The dough begins to form into rolls as you move your hand, but there's generally a little 'tail' which you'd normally tuck under the roll. However, if you tilt your hand and keep rolling it back and forth you can encourage a tail to grow. It's great fun!

Tuesday 7th June.
Been quiet for a couple of days, although I did make a dozen bread rolls two days on the trot - one for my daughter to take home with her, the other for my own consumption. And I made these rather nice sweet pikelets - the holes were as large as I've seen them:

I added 1 dessertspoon of sugar to about 150ml of batter

They didn't need anything - they were very tasty just as they were
That's either a reflection of adding sugar to the batter - never done that before - or the fact that the batter had been made for about an hour or so before making them.

This morning I was out at Hemyock, on the Blackdown hills, making bread with a group of carers - organised by the Phoenix Group for Carers. Each student made a couple of sizzlers, a small pizza, 4 Chelsea buns and 3 hot cross buns.

Here's the savoury bread they made:

Friday 3rd June.
My fortnightly care home today - found a block of marzipan in the cupboard so, with some pears in the fruit bowl, I thought we'd make marzipan and pear tartlets:

Sweetened bread dough, circle of marzipan, slices of pear - sprinkled with nutmeg and sugar
Generally I make these by rolling out the dough and cutting out circles. But, in the absence of cutters - or even beakers to use as cutters - I decided to use flattened out circles of dough for the bases. These are not as satisfactory - for one thing the dough rises up in a small 'bap' shape, so the fruit and marzipan slips off easily. And you can't make them as round, of course. For all that they're very tasty indeed!

Thursday 2nd June.
Only one session in the care home today - lots of residents away on holiday.

But I still had five students, making cheese and tomato pizza, 2 vegan pizzas and two batches of bread rolls.

The dreaded pizza slip! Caused by too much cheese.

Mushroom pate, pesto and mushrooms

Wednesday  1st June.
What a fantastic few days I’ve just had!

First the adventure with the chiminea beginning with a whole day’s baking – making 23 pizzas and 8 Peshwari naans – on Saturday.

Followed by a leisurely start to Sunday, then a fairly frenetic hour or so serving up pizzas – satisfying the needs of vegan and veggies alike. The evening was filled with entertainment – from the British Humanist Association Choir  - then from the brilliant Jonny Berliner and finally for the rest of the evening, from the TreeFrogs. This was excellent in that it gave me a chance to practice my salsa and gave me an excuse to fling my arms around a bit.

The next morning, 40 or so of us, who’d stayed overnight, were privileged to hear two fantastic lectures – one from Dr Dan Danahar from Butterfly Conservation (the charity supported by this year’s Ancestor’s Trail) on the story of the decline and rise of the Large Blue Butterfly in England – and also the story of the astonishing transformation of a patch of ground on a school campus from virtually no wildlife to an area containing 21 butterflies (and counting!) and all the attendant flora and fauna, within a couple of years. His talk was truly inspirational.

This was followed by Dr Jon Bridle from Bristol University on evolution and the effects of human activity on the environment. Thought provoking, terrifying stuff. 

Yesterday was a day off – but today I’ve been baking pizzas (along with 20+ children) in this wonderful Dragon with fire in its belly!

Tuesday 31st May.
Well, it's all behind me now - the Outdoor Baking, I mean! Good reviews on the pizzas and quiet satisfaction on my part that I managed to feed everyone who required feeding. It was one busy weekend, baking all day Saturday and reheating/cooking on Sunday - but The Ancestor's Trail event was a fantastic success. Look out for Clare Balding's 'Ramblings' programme on BBC R4.

Friday 27th May.
No baking today, but I did make a batch of socca for my lunch. I used gram flour/oatmeal 80/20%, which was fine. The oatmeal does tend to settle, so it needs to be stirred before pouring into the frying pan.

I  had a little pane frattau left from the other night, so I had this with the socca - it was very tasty! I deliberately used a little salt rather than bouillon powder in the batter so I could make a sweet version. I made one which I covered with marmalade and rolled up. Again, extremely tasty.

And I have some leftover in the fridge!

Thursday 26th May.
 Looking to practice one of the breads for Sunday’s outdoor cooking, I made a couple of cheese and onion slices with my first group. I made one with raw onion, and the other with cooked onion, as I've always done it - I was just looking to save some time in the preparation. However, the one with the cooked onion was adjudged to be the better of the two.
 The group also made a batch of curried cheese twists and a couple of batches of cheese rolls. 

The cheese twists had about a teaspoon of curry powder added
to the dough
The cheese rolls contained 75g cheese to 150g flour

We made 2 batches of doughnuts – both jam and apple – with my second group, as well as a sweet calzone (containing blackberry jam, apple sauce and banana) and a batch of curried cheese and roasted veg pasties (Matt's).

Cheese and veg pasties - with a curried dough - sweet calzone and apple and jam doughnuts and pasties 

I had the other half of the pane frattau for dinner – it tasted even better second time around!

Wednesday 25th May.
To use up yesterday’s bolognaise sauce, I fancied some Pane Frattau, which meant I had to make some Carta da Musica, first.

I made the dough and included a teaspoon of bouillon powder and some mixed herbs. I divided it into 4 and rolled each out into a 15-18cm circle.

This took me about 15 or so minutes. When I’ve made this bread before, the bread didn’t puff up as I wanted it too, possibly because my oven doesn’t get hot enough. So this time I cooked them in my  - fairly hot - cast-iron frying pan. The first couple didn’t puff up much – just a few large blisters. The third was a lot better, and the 4th was just perfect!

The secret is a very hot pan - and at least 15 minutes rest after rolling out. At least, that's how it was today.

I had the other half of the pane frattau for dinner – it tasted even better second time around!
IMO this was a reflection of the time they’d had to prove, so I shall alter my recipe accordingly. I then soaked the last two in broth and cut each into two – making 4 separate circles. So I layered the Pane frattau in four layers, adding a cheese-type sauce I’d made from nutritional yeast and 'Free & Easy' dairy free cheese flavour sauce mix.

The resulting dish was just as tasty as I’d remembered it. It took me 90 minutes, roughly from start to finish.

Sunday 22nd May.
I've just returned from a fantastic walking weekend in the Forest of Dean - with 35 other blokes, here. We do this every six months or so - basically eating, drinking and walking from Friday midday until Sunday lunchtime. 

On Saturday evening, after dinner, I generally do a breadmaking demo, using whatever lies to hand. To emphasise just how easy it is to make bread I tipped around 2/3 of a packet of bread flour in a mixing bowl, added salt, yeast and sufficient water to make a workable dough, plus a generous glug of olive oil.

There was some Brie and Cheddar left over from the cheese board, so I made three Brie parcels, and a large cheese loaf. Basically I kneaded a good handful of roughly chopped Cheddar into some of the rest of the dough and shaped it into a baton. And I made a focaccia:

The Brie parcels are at the top, the cut up focaccia in the middle, and the cheese loaf is in the foreground - bursting with good ingredients!

I was expecting more lumps of cheese to be evident - but they're in there somewhere

Martin's first bread rolls
The bread was ready in less than an hour. After the demo, one of the guys, Martin, said he still wasn't confident about making bread at home, so I got him to knock up a quick batch of rolls using 1 mug of flour and 1/3 mug of water. I think they look rather nice for a first effort!

Virtually all the bread had disappeared by the end of the night.

Thursday 19th May.
2 sessions today in my weekly care home. This morning we made jam tarts - described by one support worker as 'Stained glass windows':

A combination of apricot jam and strawberry jam
In the afternoon I only had the one student, the rest having gone out, so together we made two batches - one was peanut butter iced buns (a first for me) and the other was a simple sweet dough rolled up into croissant shapes:


...and baked. I made the icing too thin on the iced buns, but didn't have the time to correct the error. Next time...
(As you've probably noticed, I've figured out how to access my iPhone photos. It only required a USB connector just as I do with the camera. But I was so used to using Bluetooth with my old phone, I got hung up on it!)

More photos to come (and the recipe for the sweet peanut butter dough) as I get the time.

Wednesday 18th May.
Had my mind on other things, recently, so I'm afraid I've neglected this a bit.

Still been making bread, though - and I've even taken a couple of pics on my new iPhone which I'll upload as soon as I can figure out how to load them onto my Mac. (Bit ironic, really; my Samsung took lousy pics, but I could get them on here, very easily. Not so with the iPhone - yet!)

Started a new course at Bishops Hull PS yesterday. Over the next 5 weeks, the head wants me to give all the year 5 youngsters a taste of breadmaking - so 9 kids each having two lessons. They began with fancy dinner/freeform rolls - and I never thought to take pics! There were some weird and wonderful creations. Next week we're making jam doughnuts - although they want me to bring some chocolate spread, so, chocolate doughnuts!

I've got a couple of goes on the chiminea I need to report on.

Sunday 8th May.
Off to the cricket with some friends this afternoon - didn't have a lot of time to make some bread for a snack for us all, so I made a variation on my usual spicy breakfast naan, which is a quick bread, cooked in the frying pan. In recognition of my friends differing takes on spicy food I halved the amount of curry powder I usually use. I also grated in some creamed coconut which needed using up - and added a dessertspoon of molasses.

Unfortunately, there was too much curry in there for my friends palates - they didn't come back for seconds! Which meant I brought a load back for my breakfast for the next few days. I have to say the molasses gave the bread a depth of flavour which is very pleasing. I shall incorporate it into my recipe in future! However, I didn't notice the coconut!

Friday 6th May.
New Family Learning course started today - one dad and 2 mothers (One other mother couldn't make it, but will join us next week). Each family made a plain soda bread and a spicy fruit loaf.

I stayed on and made four more spicy fruit loaves with my year 4-5 group.

In the afternoon, at my fortnightly care home, we made chocolate and prune loaves:
Dough made with cocoa powder, sugar and chopped dark chocolate, rolled out and spread with juicy, plump prunes, then rolled up like a Swiss roll with the ends tucked in. It was very tasty!

Thursday 5th May.
2 sessions at my weekly care home today. In the first session we made 4 batches of petit pain au chocolat:

Just a few of the chocolate rolls we made - they are much darker than the pic suggests
In the second session Matt wanted to make a curried pizza, so he did - as did Guy. The rest made plain cheese and tomato pizza.

In the evening, whilst watching Newsnight, I made my spicy breakfast naans - yesterday I soaked 200g of chopped, dried apricots and 200g of sultanas, in preparation. These weighed in at just about 1000g after baking, so I divided them into 10 pieces which I will freeze when they've cooled.

Tuesday 3rd May.
Today I made my first successful pizzas in the chiminea! I presented one to my neighbour - who gave it 10 out of 10!

Tuesday 24th May.
2nd week with my yr 9/10 kids – 9 of them all told. This week they were making petit pain au chocolat (PPs) plus one each, chocolate  spread  and jam doughnuts – all from the one batch of dough.

They rolled out the dough, cut out 4 circles to make the doughnuts, squidged the rest of the dough back together, divided it into four and made 4 pains au chocolat. The doughnuts were brushed with a sugar glaze whilst the PPs were just given a sugar glaze.

One of the youngsters, Laura, had made a batch of rolls at home, which she brought in to show me, so here they are.
"Thanks for a very entertaining and interesting evening. I have attached a picture of my results from today yeast from Sainsburys inspiration from Paul  I have made bread before but this was my best results yet  Also made some Chelsea buns but they have all been eaten already. "

Saturday 3rd September.
Finished off the Birthday loaves.
[More to come]