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.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

BREADMAKING SESSIONS with the Taunton Association for the Homeless (TAH)

In an attempt to keep me focused - and up-to-date with the weekly emails I should be sending to the TAH Education Officer, I shall post the pics from each session here and say a bit about the bread.

Tuesday 19th May 2015

Another busy session, perhaps the best yet - in that 6 students turned up in the end (which is just about the most that can be fitted in the kitchen).

I'd planned for everyone to make a loaf of bread, but one of them just wanted to make a soda bread in the frying pan, and a couple included dried fruit in their loaves. Once the bread was rising, 3 of the students made a fruit soda bread in the frying pan.

They've all indicated they want to return next week, and wanted to make pasties again, so that's what we'll do.

The pics:

Two fruited loaves and a cottage loaf


It's always an adventure, making bread with Matt at the care home I visit on Wednesdays. His 'go to' bread is always a 'snake bread' - with whatever ingredients we are using with the rest of the students

Today we were making Danish pastries, so we had some tinned apricots - and I always bring in marzipan, since that's such a favourite with Matt. 

Once he had made his sweetened dough, he rolled it flat and lined it with flattened marzipan, on which he placed apricots - then, for good measure, he sprinkled over some sultanas.

Matt's loaf is on the right - along with some Danish

Sunday, 17 May 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 
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies 

TWEETING MY LATEST PIZZA (to #veganrecipehour and #realbreadcampaign)

I made a vegan pizza for dinner yesterday, and I wanted to tweet the procedure I used in assembling it. Just one pic of the finished product doesn't convey the whole story.

However,Twitter absolutely refused to let me upload pics from either my iPhone 5 or my MacBook; I kept getting this msg:

Uploading photo failed! Please try again later.

So, I'm going to pretend I'm tweeting from here!

Building a  pizza: H/m T/sauce&hummus w. asparagus and roasted red pepper   

Thursday, 14 May 2015

REAL BREAD WEEK (9-15th May 2015)

The week of 9-15th May 2015 is Real Bread Week, organised by The Real Bread Campaign when everyone is encouraged to make their own Real Bread.

Here's how the week went for me:

Monday 11th May
I was short of bread for myself - so I made this seeded loaf with toasted sesame seeds.

And I was due at a coffee morning on Tuesday, so I made a batch of 
Chelsea buns (plus a GF, vegan chocolate cake for a coeliac friend who attends) for a coffee morning.

Tuesday 12th May

My usual session at Myday services this week had been moved to Thursday afternoon, so I was able to get to Taunton Association of the Homeless much earlier - 3pm instead of 3.45.

Early as I was, I found one of my students already in the training kitchen, making some frying pan soda bread!

On the menu was a lentil and potato stew or hash, which we then go on to make pasties with, so we quickly got cracking with that!

We were soon joined by 2 more students who set to to make the dough for the pasties. Once these were shaped and proving, the 1st student made another soda bread in the frying pan - at the same time, teaching one of the other students, whose first session this was.

Lentil and potato pasties and frying pan soda bread 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

INTERMITTENT FASTING - a de-luxe 5:2 fast day with a difference

I only decided during Thursday morning this week, that if I wanted to get a fast in this week, I’d better get on with it. I rarely have breakfast these days, so that was a good start.

My initial thoughts were that I’d have a low calorie dinner – something like a 150 calorie (or less) veg curry - and not eat until lunchtime on the Friday. However, during the morning I made a batch of Chelsea buns (much prefer them to hot cross buns). I wanted to drop some off at the local garage where the guys had done me a huge favour (long story, won’t bore you with it here, but it involved a dead battery for the second time in a month), and wouldn’t accept payment.

In the afternoon on the way back, walking past the pub, a little voice in my head said, “Why not a swift half?”
Me: “But I’m supposed to be fasting!”
Little voice: “You can always build it into a FD – just count the calories.”

So that’s what I did. And a half of Buncombe golden bitter went down a treat. Checking later on I found it was 111 cals.

It was only then that I thought I’d turn my FD into a DL (De Luxe Fast Day), one with all the trimmings, and just see how much bang I could get for my buck.

I made the veg curry – spiced with Frank’s chilli sauce and a teaspoon of my home made curry powder:

134g chopped onion
white cabbage
green cabbage
1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
8g Franks Chilli sauce
5g curry powder
400g tinned tomatoes - 76

I still can’t get over just how flavoursome a simple veg stew with a tin of tomatoes can be – however, I added 10g of soya sauce and a tsp of bouillon powder.

A small saucepan full to the brim (before cooking) amounted to 250 calories and made about 7 large serving spoons – 3 and a half of which just filled up a side plate. I needed some carbs, and, rather than using rice, I decided to have some curried potato wedges. 150g of microwaved potato, quartered and fried with a few squirts of One-Cal and a sprinkle of curry powder came in at 115 cals.

So the meal itself came to 240 cals (125+115).

I enjoy a drink before dinner, so I had a small glass (200g) of home made stout (74 cals) and I poured myself 50g of wine (45) to have with it. However, I’ve taught myself to be so abstemious with wine that I only drank just over half of it, pouring the rest back in the bottle and saving myself 20 cals.

This brought my tally for booze – including the Buncombe, earlier - to 210.

So, 240+210=450, leaving me with 150 cals to play with. I still hadn’t tasted my Chelsea buns, yet, and worked out that each one would be 277 cals. Half of one – 139 cals – would leave me 11 calories short of my allowed 600.

So, my FD included an afternoon beer, a pre-dinner glass of stout, a (miniscule) glass of wine, a veg curry with curried wedges, and half a Chelsea bun.

There’s never any need to feel deprived on this WOL!

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”