English Muffins

English muffins were always our saviour, a safe breakfast or bun option that was mostly readily available. Sadly over time , the safe brands have all started to add milk to their ingredients and now all of the easily available ones contain milk. Sad days for us, as it is yet another product we can no longer depend on being able to buy. I also find it a bizarre time for companies to start adding milk to the ingredients when there is an increasing interest in dairy-free and vegan is the new big thing!

So it was time to either miss out or start making them myself, and I obviously went for the making them myself option. I just can’t stop baking and cooking! It’s not the same, and ideally it’s nice to have some products we can buy, but needs must.

I have to say they’re pretty easy to make, the results are shop worthy and they freeze beautifully, so maybe we can return to the days to always having English muffins on hand.

English Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 8-10 muffins

400g plain flour

1 tbsp fast-action dried yeast

1 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 tbsp caster sugar

100ml dairy-free milk

25ml sunflower oil

125-150ml water

polenta for dusting, plus a little more flour

  1. Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Pour in the oil, milk and 125ml water. Mix to form a dough adding the extra 25ml water if needed.
  3. Knead until smooth, bouncy and silky. About 10 minutes by hand, 5 minutes by machine.
  4. Place into a bowl, cover and leave to rise for at least an hour. You want the mixture to have basically doubled in size.
  5. Knock back. Dust the kitchen surface with flour and polenta and roll out to a thickness of about 2 cm. Cut out circles using a cutter any size from 8 -12 cm.
  6. Rest on a floured/polenta covered board whilst you heat the pan.
  7. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan on low until it has an even heat, this will take a good 5-10 minutes.
  8. Cook the muffins until golden on each side and no longer doughy in the middle which will take up to 10 minutes on each side.
  9. Store in an airtight container or freeze once cool for extra freshness,

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

This time of year is just wrong without Hot Cross Buns. I eagerly await the criss crossed beauties appearing in the shops, and very year there’s a new variety to tempt and inspire. These days I wouldn’t buy a Hot Cross bun as I’ve not found any safe ones (I know vegan versions exist but they’re generally not free-from enough for us) and so come March I make batch after batch of buns. I’d really recommend giving it a go, they’re not hard to make and the satisfaction of a house filled with a spicy aroma and perfect buns appearing from the oven is second to none!

I’ve made many friendly hot cross buns and they’ve become a firm favourite, so much so that Little S has them for breakfast if she gets the chance. For some reason my children have an aversion to dried fruit, so I concocted this variation that appeals more to them.

The addition of chopped chocolate may be slightly unconventional, but the resulting buns are delightfully aromatic and tasty with the bonus prize of the chocolate going oozy and gooey when the buns are toasted. The added bonus is that they freeze beautifully. Simply defrost and then warm in an oven or toaster, and enjoy perfect hot cross buns anytime 🙂

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)


makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 or 2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

500ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

100g dairy-free chocolate, chopped

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  7. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  8. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.


Savoury Pretzels

Snacks – I don’t think we’d get through a day without snacks and that’s always particularly apparent at the weekend or in the school holidays. Biscuits and cakes are all well and good but sometimes savoury is the only way to go. Crisps are great, everyone loves crisps right? But they’re not exactly filling and nutritious.

I have a small repertoire of interesting savoury options: sausage rolls, savoury scones, cheesy crackers etc but I’m always on the look out for new ideas which are not only suitable but pleasing to everyone. Then I spied some big pretzels for sale – now that looks like a good idea. Chewy, bread based and certainly filling. I’ve never really delved into the wonderful world of pretzels before but in doing some research it seems they’re often served with mustard. Bingo! Inspiration! So here’s my take on savoury pretzels, topped with a mustard glaze and because dips make everything better, served with a sweet mustard sauce. These certainly keep those hunger pangs at bay with a satisfying snack. They also make great tasty sandwich rolls 😋

Savoury Pretzels

(Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian, can be vegan) contains mustard

makes 8-10

500g strong bread flour

7g dried fast action yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

300 ml warm water

2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (for the boiling water)

for the glaze:

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp mustard

1 tbsp oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda to form a dough and knead well until smooth silky and you can feel the gluten and firmed up the dough. Cover and leave to prove for at least one hour.
  2. Knock back and cut into 8-10 even sized pieces. Roll each one into a sausage shape with slightly tapered ends, then tie in a lose knot. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the over to 200 degrees centigrade
  4. Bring a pan of water to the boil, once boiling tip in the bicarbonate of soda and drop each knot into the boiling solution for about 5 seconds.
  5. Remove and place on an oiled baking sheet.
  6. Brush with a little of the glaze and bake for 15 minutes until deeply golden
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and bush with the remaining glaze and sprinkle over a little salt. Leave to cool.
  8. Serve fresh with a dip of equal parts honey/syrup and mustard pepped up with a dash of hot sauce.
  9. These pretzels also freeze well. Defrost thoroughly and then refresh in a hot oven for a few minutes.

Marmite Bagels

dairy-free marmite bagel

I love making bagels; ok it’s a slightly convoluted process but they make me feel like a real, proper baker! When I saw a picture of some marmite bagels on the cover of Olive Magazine, I just knew I had to make my own version. Big S loves bagels and marmite and isn’t so keen on sweet breakfast options – these bagels could have been made exclusively for her!

They really are a delicious savoury bagel variation – certainly not too ‘marmity’ but with add oomph and umami flavours, these certainly aren’t a bland plain bagel! Don’t worry though, if you’re not a marmite fan you will still enjoy these, they’re more savoury and moorish than overpoweringly marmite flavoured.

dairy-free bagels

We had them warm from the oven with Tofutti better than cream cheese, served with carrot soup – a complete winner of a lunch!

But make sure you leave some for breakfast, toasted and with added marmite if you’re a real marmite addict!

Marmite Bagels

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free nut-free bagels, marmite flavour

Makes 10

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp dried yeast

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 and 1/2 tbsp marmite and 1 tbsp syrup dissolved in 300ml water

1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp marmite

1 tsp marmite dissolved in 1 tbsp dairy-free milk, for brushing

A few flakes of sea salt to sprinkle

  1. Sift the flour into bowl; add the salt, sugar and yeast.
  2. Pour in the water (with marmite and syrup dissolved in) and oil and and mix until you have a nice smooth, pliable dough (if you have a mixer with a dough hook use that)
  3. Knead until the dough is silky smooth and bounces back when you make an indentation (probably 5-10 minutes)
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut the dough into ten equal sized pieces, weigh them if you want them to be exact.
  6. Shape each into a ball, then insert a wooden spoon handle in the middle to make a hole. Twizzle about until the hole is at least 2cm/1 inch across. (Or leave as balls if making burger buns)
  7. Stir in the 1 tbsp marmite into the boiling water. Once all the bagels are shaped, tip the bicarbonate into the water.  Place each bagel in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, turning over once. Lift out, drain off the excess water by placing on a clean tea towel. Then place on the baking sheet. Leave to rise again for 30 minutes, covered with cling film bagel making, freefrom
  8. Heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7. Oil a baking sheet.
  9. Brush with the marmite infused dairy-free milk and sprinkle with the salt.
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

marmite bagels, vegan

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche


dairy-free cinnamon briocheMmmm, is there any more comforting and wonderful smell that cinnamon scented baked items cooking in the oven? It’s such a sweet, warm and cosy aroma, with the promise of an irresistible treat nice the baking has finished. This cinnamon swirl brioche loaf hits the spot in so many ways – it looks stunning, smells amazing whist its cooking and tastes absolutely delicious – you can’t go wrong with that!!

vegan brioche loaf

I always find the brioche loaves and rolls look tempting on the supermarket shelves, to me they look rich, delicate and indulgent. A sort of luxury loaf for times of celebration. Obviously free from brioche are pretty hard to come by with their reliance on eggs and butter to enrich the dough! This recipe is pretty simple but gives beautiful results – the dough is enriched enough to be luxurious without being sickly, there is just a hint of sweetness in the dough, with the sugary cnnamon swirl giving the favour punch. We loved the slices plain, toasted or turned into a luxurious bread and butter pudding.

vegan cinnamon brioche

I also fancied making a show stopper loaf, one with ‘bake off’ worthy wow factor. I’d seen this technique of splitting and twisting the dough before and thought how stunning the results are for a technique which is essentially totally simple and straightforward. The swiss roll style spiral of cinnamon filled dough is basically split into two lengthwise with a little join left at one end. The two sides are then twisted so the cut edges face upward and then it’s twisted over itself giving a wonderfully gnarly and twisted effect, especially once risen and baked. I think we definitely ended up with the ‘wow effect’ I was looking for!

dairy-free brioche loaf

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche Loaf

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

egg-free cinnamon swirl brioche

makes 1 loaf

500g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp quick action yeast

100ml warm water

150ml dairy-free milk

1 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon


1 tsp cornflour

2 tsp oat milk

1 tsp honey/syrup

1 tsp oil

  1. Mix together the 1/3 cup of sugar and 1tbsp cinnamon and set aside.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, yeast and sugar
  3. Pour in the water, oat milk and melted spread and mix to a soft dough
  4. Knead for a good 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and bouncy
  5. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise, you want it to double in size
  6. Knock back and then roll into a large rectangle. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon and then roll up into a tight swiss roll type cylinder.
  7. Split in half lengthwise leaving a little join at one end. Turn the cut sides up so you can see the cinnamon sugar layers. Twist and then join the ends. Place in a loaf tin, cover with cling film and leave to rise again for another 30 minutes Mix together the glaze and set aside.
  8. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 180 degrees Centigrade until they are golden, risen and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
  9. For extra shine, brush the top with the glaze 5 or 10 minutes minutes before the end of the baking

dairy-free brioche loaf

Garlic and Herb Knots

garlic and herb knots I do like making us some interesting bread for a weekend lunch – it makes such a welcome change from the boring sliced bread we’re normally forced to buy. Little S’s sesame allergy means all bakery products are out of bounds and the ready packed varieties are also few and far between. Our bread options get rather monotonous and I so like giving her the opportunity to try all types of gorgeous, fresh baked bread as there is not much better that warm home baked loaves. I found that if I make a bigger batch and freeze half then we always have something interesting to hand. This recipe provides a double whammy of interesting flavour coupled with shape.I think shape is just as important as flavour/smell in making something basic become special. I’ve always found knot shapes particularly appealing and whilst looking complicated, they are so easy to make. You effectively roll out a sausage shape but taper the ends slightly and then tie in a loose knot – simple! The garlic and herb in this recipe adds a subtle twang, enough to get the gist but nothing too overpowering, just as I like it. However, if you’re more of a garlic fan than me, add more and then you can crank it up as much as you like! garlic herb knot rolls

Garlic Herby Knots

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

garlic and herb bread rolls

makes 12 rolls

300ml oat milk

2 tbsps dairy-free spread

1 tbsps syrup

400-450g strong white bread flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp chopped chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, crushed

black pepper

oat milk, for brushing

rock salt for sprinkling

  1. Warm the oat milk, spread and syrup together until the spread has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and salt.
  3. Stir in the herbs and garlic, and a good grind of black pepper.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into the flour. Mix until it has come together to make a soft dough.
  5. Turn out and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy.
  6. Place back in the bowl, cover with oiled cling-film and leave to rise for about an hour (it should double in size).
  7. Once the dough has risen, knock back and knead again to form a smooth ball.
  8. Cut into 12 even sized pieces and roll each into a sausage with tapered ends. Tie in a knot and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.making a bread knotbread knots
  9. Loosely cover with oiled cling-film and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Centigrade/210 degrees fan/Gas Mark 6
  11. Remove the cling-film. Brush the tops with oat milk and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and sounding hollow when tapped.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.

garlicky herb rolls