Sometimes I like to make bread by hand, its not something I do often as I rarely have the time during the week, not unless I stay up til gone midnight to take the loaf out of the oven. Not a glorious prospect for someone whose wake up call is 6.30am
To which most people (well bread machine evangelists at any rate) say “what you need is a bread machine, it makes life sooooooo much easier !”. Now I would never under any circumstance knock the joy of a freshly made loaf from a bread machine – in fact I melt into the floor with delight every time Flapjack Queen sends her husband round with a plate of freshly made bread slathered in lemon curd – and yes, a homemade loaf, even in a bread machine, beats the hell out a chorleywood process plastic loaf but I want more than just the bread.
Bread is therapy. Making it can be calming – I love the sensuous feel of the dough beneath my fingers, to gently knead and fold – or it can be anger management, many cook books cite the joy of working out your frustrations on the dough with intense kneading, stretching, slamming the dough back down on the surface.
I even enjoy watching people making bread – there is a fantastic scene in channel 4’s Real Food series where Nigel Slater makes bread with Emily Green – he has a wonderful, infectious excitement over the feel of the dough, and a childish glee when finally consuming it as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich !
Earlier this year I decided as part of the economy drive to start making bread and bought in a new tin of dried yeast, white and brown strong bread flour. Since then I’ve made bread exactly twice…its because we haven’t bought a full price loaf of bread since march – honest ! OK so its honest we haven’t bought a full price of bread, but not “honest that’s the reason I haven’t made bread”. Basically I haven’t yet mastered the art of the loaf, I keep making mistakes…oh, and as mentioned I lack time in the evenings. [The secret to low price bread is that Husband has been buying end of date bread and filling the freezer with it,we take it out slice by slice as and when needed].
The loaves I have made have been fun though. The first was based on the idea of the Milk Roll which I remember from the ’70’s, roughly following the recipe in Apples for Jam: Tessa Kiros…it made me feel like a proper Mummy (the sort that is not at work from 7-7). Came out a bit yeasty, but slightly sweet. Toddler loved it (which is all that mattered really).
Second one was following recipe from Appetite: Nigel Slater for basic white loaf but following the instructions from Emily Green from the Real Food programme (see above) which involved rolling and folding to keep the air in the bread rather than slamming it periodically on the table and wow what a revelation ! This loaf really really rose. It was a very tall loaf, and sort of resembled a brain in shape. Lovely fresh taste, fantastic texture. No yeasty taste this time, but slightly doughy as I took it out of the oven to early – too desperate to taste it I guess.
Postscript: Found the time to make the first two recipes from The Bread & Bread Machine CookBook: Ingram & Shapter, one white, one brown, both were a little on the sweet side (too much honey or sugar ?) and the white still had too much of a yeasty taste.
The Brown loaf worked quite well except for the fact I got the tin measurements wrong and it ended up in too shallow a tin…very surprised it worked in view of the fact it required less than 1/3 of the usual kneading time.