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.

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Singed a bit - but showing the sunflower seeds

I had a plea from a friend of mine who was trying to follow my recipe for overnight-proving, no-knead loaf. It never seemed to rise properly the second time, he reported.

So I thought I should go back to basics, and give the recipe I’ve been following recently.

It takes less than 2 hours, only uses one proving (rising), and yet it’s a very tasty loaf.

I’ve recently re-discovered the joys of toasted seeds in my bread – but they can be left out with no effect – except the loaf will have more flavour if they're included.

Sunday, 5 April 2015


In my quest to find the lowest calorie dinner for a fasting day (FD), I've managed to push the calorie count down to 75! :)

5g each cumin seeds and curry powder, dry fried, 10 cals
65g onion 21
325g celery 26
150g dark green cabbage - cut in strips with the spine still intact 20
125g mushrooms 17
1/2 tin tomatoes 41

Plus: 1 teaspoon each, mushroom ketchup, soy sauce and (vegan) Worcs sauce 15

Total 150

This makes 8 large serving spoons - four of which fill a decent-sized side plate.

So, 75 cals! :)

There are a couple of reasons I like to drive my calories as low as possible on a FD:

The health benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) are backed by hard science.

And by varying the calorie intake on FDs (and feast days*) every now and again keeps the body's cells on their toes - they have to prepare for any eventuality.

*I also think that, just as our ancestors would feast when they made a kill, so should we. So once a week or so I'll have a bit of a blowout! :)

Sunday, 22 March 2015


The ability to fast for long periods certainly makes my life a lot easier!

Twice in the last fortnight I've gone without food all day - because it suited my routine. (These occasions were separate from my weekly 24hr liquid only fasts [LOF] - since I'm practicing a 6:1 version of intermittent fasting [IF].)

A couple of weeks ago I - purely by chance - found myself teaching 4 sessions of breadmaking in the one day:

10.30am to 12.30pm teaching a group of students from Somerset College who were visiting My Day Services;
1.30 to 3.30pm my usual session with My Day;
3.45 to 5.15pm my usual session with the Taunton Association of the Homeless
6.00 to 8.00pm a one-off session with one of the YMCA youth clubs (there are three of them, with different age groups).

It was much easier for me not to eat - although I drank lots of water and black coffee - than to have to have organised three meals during the day.

I'm fortunate in that I don't feel any hunger when I'm fasting - it's pretty well been that way since I started.

And today, I was up at 8.00 am because I had a breadmaking workshop in Wells from 10-4.30 - about a 45 minute drive away. No breakfast means I can stay in bed that bit longer, and not having a lunch meant I could concentrate on the students and not worry about baking for myself. I finally ate at around 7.30 - giving me a 23 hour liquid fast.

Another of the changes I've noticed recently is that I no longer seem to awaken the 'hunger monster' when I nibble something. It used to be that if I ate anything whilst preparing a meal, for instance, I would have to continue chomping away until the meal was served up. Tonight I had a spoonful of the potatoes I was using in the Spanish omelette I was making  - and that was it, I didn't want anything more. Most odd!

I'm now well into my 12kg kettlebell exercises. Every other day, 4 sets of:
Right dead lift - 8 reps
Left dead lift x 8
2 handed dead lift x 12
Right handed swing x 12
Double handed swing x 12
Left handed swing x 12
Steering wheel x 12
Right handed lift x 8
Left handed lift x 8

On the other days I do my body weight exercises:
4 sets of 20 press ups with 8kg on my back
4 sets of chin ups - my record is 8, 6, 5 and 4 = 22

I started these last summer - but I wasn't going all the way down, I was keeping my arms bent. This last couple of months I've started doing them properly, and the progress is pretty slow. However, I'm definitely improving!

My HIIT routine is now 8 x 30 seconds running on the spot in a swimming pool (I have dodgy knees, so this is ideal for me) with 20 seconds recovery. I'm so used to doing this that I hardly get breathless - so I may have to find something else to stretch me.

As well as being motivated by GymBoffin, I’m inspired by this 95 year old bloke, who broke the 200m record for his age group a week or so ago. He has a TEDx video on YouTube, entitled ‪”Why bodybuilding at age 93 is a great idea‬”

Thursday, 19 March 2015


[I'm still working on this post, putting in the links to all the breads is time-consuming. If there is no link attached to the bread you're interested in, simply put it in the search box, and you should be directed to the recipe.]

Index of vegan breads:
Apfel kuchen (German apple cake)

Bread bowls (from these to trenchers)
Calzone (soda bread calzone) baked in a chiminea
Chocolate and beetroot bread
Chocolate and cherry bread
Chocolate loaf
Chocolate twist
Christmas loaf
Cloche method
Crackers – poppy and sesame seeds
Creole soda bread
Danish pastries
Devonshire splits
Farthing buns
Fruit braid
Fruit loaf
Garlic batons
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns
Hungarian chocolate bread
Iced buns
Jam tart
Lardy cake
Marzipan and apple tartlets
Mushroom en croute
Pane casereccio
Pane cioccolato (Italian chocolate bread)
Pane frattau
Peshwari naan
Petit pain au chocolat
Pies (Thai, ratatouille, apple)
Quick breads
Reindeer droppings
Schiacciatta con l’uva
Soda bread
Spelt loaf
Spicy fruit buns
Spicy fruit naan
Swedish tea ring
Yum yums

ALL bread should be vegan - that is, made with flour, salt (which can be omitted), yeast and water. That's it!

That's Real Bread as defined by the Real Bread Campaign (RBC).

"Real Bread is that made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives."

"Additional ingredients are great as long as they are natural...and themselves contain no artificial additives."

I teach breadmaking - in a variety of settings and to all manner of groups - that's my job. Necessarily, this involves me in making bread that is not vegan. It's always vegetarian, however. Of course, all the breads that I make for my own consumption are vegan. 

Unfortunately, my wife is a confirmed omnivore - when I announced I was going to be a vegetarian, her response was, "Don't be so bloody silly!" :) "And what about our Sunday roast chicken? And Christmas - what about our turkey?" (This was in November, 2001.) 

I'm a man of peace and compromise, so for five weeks I was vegetarian during the week and had roast chicken on the Sunday. I had the turkey at Christmas and I have been a vegetarian ever since - becoming a vegan around 2004.

So, not all of this blog is vegan or vegetarian - but the point of this post is to steer my fellow vegans away from any recipes that aren't vegan.

In this post I want to emphasise and feature - and link to - all the breads I make that are vegan - the great majority.

I want to look at the different 'natural' ingredients that recipes often call for, that aren't vegan, and, either discount them altogether, or suggest alternatives:

Eggs. Eggs are completely unnecessary in bread - and there is no necessity  for any egg replacement. None! Ever!

As an aside, eggs (or egg replacements) are also unnecessary in:

Butter. Where ever you see this in a recipe, replace with a similar amount of olive oil. (I use Lidl's - or Aldi's - Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is cheap, and comes high in the Which? Magazine tests.) But as a general rule, you can use as much or as little as you choose.  Olive oil adds flavour and helps keep the bread fresh for longer. Other vegetable oils don't seem to add much to bread - with the exception of the sunflower oil in which dried tomatoes have been soaked. When this oil is added to a pizza dough, it makes a wonderful crust - crisp, a little like short-crust pastry!

Cheese. This is used mainly as a pizza topping, in breadmaking - and, as you'll see, there are so many toppings that can be used in its place. Not as a cheese replacement, but as flavoursome toppings in their own right. Otherwise, in cheese rolls for instance, vegan cheese or other tasty alternatives can be used.

Meats of all sorts. Not even in mincemeat! :) (Although in the US some still quaintly believe that this Christmas-associated ingredient should contain meat! Ugh!) Not necessary in any shape or form.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Tasty tomato pizza (Cost, around 70p)

150g (1 mug) strong white flour 7.5p
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional)
100g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast 4p (from Sainsbury's - free from Asda)
25g sunflower oil from s-d-tomatoes (free)

Topping:Half a tin of tomatoes, reduced, with a tsp soya sauce and dried herbs - 20p
One sliced mushroom and tomato - 10p(?)
A little Roasted red pepper - 10p
3 s-d-tomatoes, chopped - 20p (optional)
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies 


1. Place flour, curry powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Measure the water and add 1 teaspoon of yeast. Stir to dissolve, add to the flour and pour in the 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 your fingers. Stir round in big circles, pulling the flour off the sides of the bowls into the middle. 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 flattening the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Once the dough is smooth either leave it, covered with a dry tea towel, for an hour or so, or go straight to step 4.

4. Without knocking it back (that is; kneading a couple of times), form the dough into a round bap shape. Have plenty of flour to hand and scatter flour over the dough and worktop. With a rolling pin, roll it into a circle around  25-30cm (10-12”) across. Keep turning the dough around and refreshing the flour. The dough should slide on the flour.

5. Pour the tomato topping over the pizza and spread it out with the back of a spoon, leaving it 1 cm from the edge, then place the other ingredients on top. Finish with the nooch and oregano. Leave to rise - on your worktop is fine.

6. When the dough at the edge of the pizza has become puffy, place in a hot oven, 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for 15-20 minutes. When they're done the pizza will lift up all along one side when you check underneath, using a palette knife or similar. The bottom should be browning from the edges.

To get a crisp bottom to the pizzas, there are several things you can do:
• Make sure you keep the wet topping away from the edges – and don’t overload the pizza;
• Have a heavy metal tray at the bottom of the oven to use as a pizza stone. If you do this, have your pizzas on baking parchment on an up-turned tray – then you can just slide the pizzas into the oven.
• Finish them off in a large, dry, frying pan

Variations to the base:
Obviously, you can individualise the toppings on any pizza to suit you and your family. However, you can also add other ingredients to the dough - my current favourite is to use a teaspoon of bouillon powder instead of the salt, add a teaspoon of mixed herbs, several chopped oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes and a good glug of the oil from the jar. The oil makes a real difference to the crust which, to my mind, begins to resemble a shortcrust pastry.

[Pic to come]

Saturday, 28 February 2015


Starter: Baked onion bhajis
Main: Chilli non carne with seitan, coconut milk and Thai spices
Pudding: Apple strudel

Baked onion bhajis

I left these a couple of minutes too long in the oven - so they've just caught a little
2 large onions, sliced fairly thinly
Oil (for the frying pan - I use rapeseed)
1 teaspoon curry powder (my made up curry powder consists of 3 parts chilli powder to 1 each of cumin, coriander and turmeric – you may wish to reduce this ratio)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
100g gram (chickpea) flour
2 teaspoons bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons tomato puree

Fry the onions for about 8-10 minutes until soft
Stir the spices in with the onions and fry for a couple more minutes
Mix the gram flour, bouillon powder in a bowl, then add the tomato puree and enough water to form a batter.  Add the onions and mix altogether. It should be a fairly loose mixture.

Using a dessertspoon, place heaped spoonfuls of the mix onto a prepared baking sheet (I simply oil mine), and bake at 200C for 20-25 mins.

Thai chilli non carne with seitan

Start with a vegetable curry.

To which add a tin of coconut milk, a dessertspoon of Thai curry paste, a dessertspoon each of soya sauce and lemon juice, and a squeeze of garlic paste.
Then add a tin of red kidney beans (or 240g of dried, cooked beans), the Seitan chunks and simmer until the chunks have softened.
Adjust seasoning
(Personally, I would add an extra dessertspoon of Thai curry and a splash of Encona West Indian Hot Pepper sauce, or similar)

Serve with Jasmine rice

Apple strudel

This is one of the strudels made with my special need's students. If you look  carefully, you can just make out a K (on the right) made from a scrap of dough - which means it was made by Kestor.
You can, of course, make this with ready made puff pastry which is easily available and very often vegan.

However, I find a strudel made with your own croissant dough to be, not only tastier, but very satisfying to make.

1 portion of croissant dough, made with 200g flour and a dessertspoon of sugar instead of the salt. Once made, keep it in the fridge, in an oiled plastic bag, until you're ready to use it.

3 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
200g sultanas
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
100ml orange juice

Either stew the fruit in a saucepan on the stove until the apples are soft - but still retain their shape; or, microwave the fruit for approximately 10 minutes.

Let the fruit mixture cool before shaping the strudel.

Once you're ready to go, roll the dough out to to approximately 35cm x 25cm (a little bigger than my laptop!) and place it onto a piece of baking parchment, with the long side across in front of you.

Spread the filling in a thick band across the length of the dough, leaving a couple of centimetres at each end. Gently, using the baking paper as support, bring the dough over the top of the filling until it is covered. Roll it over an extra 2-3 cms to create an overlap.

Trim any spare width of dough (bake as nibbles), and carefully tuck in the ends.

Using the baking parchment, slide the strudel onto a baking tray and, using a sharp knife, make shallow diagonal cuts in the top of the dough. Cover the strudel with a dry tea towel and leave to prove until the dough is risen and puffy.

Turn the oven onto 200C, and carefully brush the strudel with a sugar glaze - one dessertspoon sugar to two dessertspoons boiling water.

When the oven is up to temperature, place the strudel in the middle of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Brush again with the sugar glaze. 

Either serve immediately, with Alpro custard, or place to cool on a wire rack.