Bake like you mean it Recipe Shed

Bread, two ways

It has been a while since I posted here, so have a couple of quick and simple bread recipes that I used at the school wellbeing day…

Yeah. Wellbeing day. A whole day off-timetable, no kids, spend the time getting to know your fellow teachers and partaking of some fun activities. First up, laughter yoga. Keep an open mind, the email said, giving nothing away. Now, don’t know about you but I’m old enough and cynical enough that when someone says “Keep an open mind”, my mental blast doors slam closed faster than Han Solo can say “Close the blast doors” and, yeah. Anyway. Moving on.

Next up was my leading a dozen other teachers through making a couple of different breads. The recipes below, in fact. Showed them that making bread is nothing to be scared of, that there’s not a lot of actual hands-on time, and that the whole thing, start to finish, can be done easily in a couple of hours.

Big shared lunch (see cheesecake recipes elsewhere on here for my contribution, 3 of them), and then an afternoon walking around Ferry Meadows in Peterborough. Cold, windy, flat-ish.

Bread, take 1 – Soda Bread


  • 500g flour – 250g plain white flour, 125g plain wholemeal, 125g of sometbing more interesting – Khorasan, Spelt, Rye, Buckwheat. I find Khorasan works really well.
  • 1tsp salt – I use sea or rock salt here, it ends up migrating into the crust. Gorgeous. If you’ve got smoked or chilli salt, even better.
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda. Clue is in the name.
  • 420ml buttermilk. Or thereabouts. I’ve never got the stuff in the house so, I cheat…
  1. Make the buttermilk. Take 200ml full-fat milk, add roughly 20ml lemon juice (a tablespoon and a bit). Mix. Leave it for 10-15 minutes. Hey presto, buttermilk.
  2. Weigh out your flours, put them in a bowl. Add the salt and soda.
  3. Mix everything together into a wet dough. And it will be a sticky one. So add a bit more plain wholemeal flour and mix a little more. You don’t knead this bread, you don’t want to rile the gluten.
  4. Lightly flour a baking tray and turn your dough out onto it. Shape into a ball.
  5. Grab a dough cutter if you’ve got one and cut your ball into 4 quarters, lightly flouring the cuts. If you’ve not got a cutter, a butterknife should do the job.
  6. Leave the dough to rise a little, 10-15 minutes again (enough time to mark some homework!) and then put your oven on to 200°C.
  7. Bake for ~35 minutes
  8. When the time’s up, test the bread – turn the loaf over and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow and drum-like, you’re golden. Put it on a rack to cool and wait as long as you can be patient before cutting a slice off and slathering it with butter.

Total hands-on time, about 5 minutes. Total time, end-to-end, about an hour.

On wellbeing day, 4 bakers out of the dozen chose to make soda bread, each using a different one of the alternative grains. And we got 4 superb loaves, some of which even made it to the bring-and-share lunch!

Bread, take 2 – Single-rise white loaf

A lot of people think bread is complicated and time-consuming. This recipe proves otherwise. Quality white bread in about an hour and a half.


  • 500g strong white flour. Best for bread making
  • 1 sachet instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 300ml warm water

We’re going to give this bread every opportunity, every chance, to rise and do well. So, without further ado…

  1. Mix together the warm water, yeast, honey, and oil. Much like the buttermilk-making, if you leave this for 10-15 minutes the yeast will activate, the mixture will froth up, and everything will be ready to rock and roll when you start mixing.
  2. Give the flour 30 seconds in the microwave, heat it up, so the yeast isn’t given a cold shock when it meets the flour.
  3. Now mix everything together and knead it in the bowl until it pulls away from the side. The more you knead, the nicer your bread will be. A good 5 minutes at least. Of course, if you’ve a Kenwood with a dough hook, whack it in there and ignore it for those minutes.
  4. Take your dough and split it roughly 2/3-1/3. We’re going to make a cob. Shape both parts into balls, place the smaller atop the larger, oil two fingers and deeply finger your balls (sorry, Bake Off and Pottery Throwdown both contain these single-entendres).
  5. Leave to rise for about half an hour. Oven to 200°C.
  6. Bake for, again, about 35 minutes and test in a similar way.
  7. This time, you’ll need jam or marmalade, I reckon.

This, too, was successful. None of the bakers wanted to share!

So there you go. Bread. Quick, straightforward, plenty of time to do other things while fresh bread is rising, or cooking and filling the house with a mouth-watering smell of things delicious. If you’ve got faster ways to bake fresh bread from scratch, I want to know.

Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

I don’t know, Whatever, Stuff and Thing – with mayo

Go on, ask someone what they want for dinner.  Just now, before you go any further.  The four most common answers (based entirely on a tweet I heard yesterday) are:

  • I don’t know
  • Whatever
  • Stuff
  • Thing

Okay, so these last 2 are actually my sister-in-law’s signature dishes and what tends to be served most commonly in their house.

Anyway, I am here to provide a simple recipe that can be used whenever any of the 4 above are requested…


Vegetables – whatever you happen to have in the cupboard.  2 or 3 different ones, for preference, but if all you’ve got is spuds then go with it.

Meat – something.  Anything.  That rabbit your neighbor ran over would do at a pinch.  Next door’s dog if it really annoys you.  That cat from down the road that keeps raiding your bins.

Store cupboard – chicken stock, olive oil, herbs, spices, whatever.

Bread – to mop up the juices.


Dice the veg, stick on a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil (or veg oil if that’s your bag), sprinkle of salt, grate of pepper, some cumin seeds if you’ve got them, any fresh(ish) herbs that happen to be lying around.

Oven to 220C, roast for 20-30 minutes, agitating after 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, large frying pan onto a medium heat, good-sized knob of butter and cook the meat until it’s done.  Should give off plenty of juice.  If not, add some more butter.

Take the meat out of the pan, put it on a plate in the oven under the veg for the last 5 minutes.  Tablespoon of flour into the pan, add a pint of chicken stock and whisk until it boils and thickens.

To serve:

Divide equally among however many people are eating, meat on one side of the plate, veg on the other, gravy poured over the lot.  Slice of bread on the side for mopping up.

Vegetarian option…

Don’t do the meat or the gravy.

If you’ve got the time

Or the patience, or the inclination (which, frankly, if people can’t be bothered thinking what they want for dinner I wouldn’t have) you could do a quick mayo to go with the veg instead of/as well as the gravy…


  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Mustard powder


Crack the egg into the tall, thin mixing jug that comes with one of those stick-blenders.  Top up to the 200ml mark with veg oil, add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of mustard powder.

Put the stick blender in right to the bottom of this frankly unpromising mix and turn on.

Slowly raise the blender to the top of the mix – watch as mayo magic happens!

Seriously, this is quick, simple and magic.  All that rubbish about adding oil slowly and whisking until your arm falls off is absolute nonsense.  I’m sure I’ve blogged about this little trick before but I couldn’t find it.  If anyone spots it elsewhere on the blog, please let me know!