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.

Thursday, 4 March 2021


Ciabatta-style spicy fruit soda bread

Chocolate cake - with perhaps a little too much cocoa powder

Ginger cake, sliced up ready for the freezer. My aim is to have just one chunk per day.
Fruit pikelets

To bake 3 or more items online with a group of friends. The intention is to make a spicy fruit ciabatta, a chocolate or ginger cake, plus fruit pikelets - and, if time allows, battered mushrooms and banana fritters.
We'll be using an oven, a microwave and a frying pan.

By the end of the session, students will have made a variety of baked goods, and, with the help of recipes, be able to recreate these items to feed their families.

Running order:
Spicy fruit ciabatta
Chocolate or ginger cake
Plain or fruit pikelets
Battered sausage and/or mushrooms and banana fritters - if time allows.

Before the session starts:
Read the recipes carefully - through to the end.
Gather equipment.

For the spicy fruit ciabatta:
Mixing bowl, scales, stiff palette knife or table knife, jug, spatula, prepared baking tray, oven.

For the cake:
Mixing bowl, scales, jug, dessertspoon, whisk if you have one, spatula, microwave cake former or cake tin 20cm (8"), microwave or oven, cooling rack (or tea towel).

For fruit pikelets:
Large cereal bowl, dessertspoon, jug, frying pan, hob.

Gather ingredients.

Approximately 500g (1lb+) self raising flour, sugar, mixed spice, sultanas, water, olive oil, cocoa powder or ground ginger, salt, cooked sausage or mushroom, banana.

Online Baking


For the fruit soda bread (FSB):

Mixing bowl, scales, stiff palette knife, or table knife, measuring jug, spatula, baking tray lined with baking parchment, oven.

For the cake:

Mixing bowl, measuring jug, scales, dessertspoon, whisk if you have one, spatula, microwave-safe cake former or cake tin 20cm/8”, microwave or oven, cooling rack or tea towel.

For the pikelets and fritters:

Large cereal bowl, dessertspoon, jug, frying pan, hob.



200g self raising flour (or, plain flour plus 2 good teaspoons baking powder)

25g sugar

1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice

100g sultanas (plus 100g chopped dates - optional)

150g water

1 tablespoon veg oil (olive oil I find best)

What to expect.

First of all, let me say that this is meant to be a relaxed and enjoyable experience - in fact my first teaching aim for any session of mine is that everyone should have fun - including me!

And my objective is, that everyone who joins in will be able to bring the making of at least one of these baking products into their comfort zone - hopefully all three.

We will wait until everyone has finished each item, before we start with the next recipe. 

Running order:

Fruit soda bread; Chocolate or ginger cake; Battered sausage and/or mushrooms, banana fritters; plain or fruit pikelets.


Oven on to 220C/425F , prepare baking tray - with baking paper (NOT greaseproof! Packet must specify baking paper or parchment), or a non-stick mat. If you have neither of these, then oil a baking tray and sprinkle flour over the oil.

Fruit bread:

200g (8oz) self raising flour (or, plain flour plus 2 good teaspoons baking powder)

25g sugar

1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice

100g sultanas 

150g (6fl oz) water

1 tablespoon veg oil (olive oil I find best)


Measure the dry ingredients, mix round couple of times to disperse the spice; add the water and add the oil directly into the water.

Mix with a stiff knife, stirring and mixing until the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. It should be a very wet, sticky dough.

Position the bowl directly above your baking tray and scrape the contents carefully out of the bowl, so that they finish up in the middle of the tray. 

Smooth the dough, if required, using a wet spatula, or pat any lumps down with wet hands.

Place directly in the oven. Set your timer for 20 minutes

This generally takes me about 10 minutes - but I’m allowing for 30 for everyone to finish. Then we’ll move on to the cake.

Chocolate or ginger cake:

200g (8oz) self raising flour

200g (8oz) sugar

30g (1oz) cocoa powder

300g (12oz) water 

1 tablespoon veg oil


Once again, dry ingredients first, a couple of seconds mixing to distribute the ingredients; then add the water and oil. It looks like a very wet mix, but it’s supposed to be wet.

Pour into your prepared 8” (20cm) cake-former/tin or whatever. For the microwave, I now use a large pasta bowl, lined with baking paper. Scrape the bowl with a soft spatula or whatever.

Place in a microwave (800W) for 8 minutes, or in the oven for 35-40. Turn the oven down to 180C/360F when you remove the ciabatta. Test with a skewer to see if it is cooked.

This generally takes me about 5-6 minutes - but I’m allowing for 20 minutes for everyone to finish. Then we’ll move on to the batters.

Battered sausage/banana fritters and plain or fruit pikelets:

First of all, put your frying pan on a low to medium heat, with a little oil if needed.

Place 4 dessertspoons self raising flour in a small bowl and add 3-4 dessertspoons water, plus a pinch of salt. Stir into a thick paste, using the back of the spoon to smooth out any lumps. Carefully add a little more water, stirring all the time, until you achieve a thickish batter - known in some circles as a tempura batter.

Turn the heat up under the frying pan to medium to hot.

Slice the pre-cooked sausage lengthways, then into halves, so you have four pieces. Place these in the bowl and cover each with batter. Lift them out, using a fork, and place them in the frying pan, turning them over when they’re brown underneath.

Or: slice a couple of button mushrooms and repeat the process. Or do both.

Once these are in the frying pan, add a dessertspoon of sugar to the batter and make the banana fritters - it’s exactly the same process.

Check the battered sausage, mushrooms and banana fitters, turning as necessary

Pikelets: thin the batter slightly and place several dessertspoons round the frying pan - these are plain pikelets; then add a small handful of sultanas or raisins to the mix and repeat to make the fruit pikelets. 

Not in the programme, but if you were to thin the batter right down, that makes a pancake batter. You don’t need egg replacement or plant milk - you just need s/r flour and water.