Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bread, and the awesomeness thereof.

Well I fell off the Thing A Day bandwagon - surprise surprise - but only because my last couple of weeks at work were just too busy and exhausting and I was getting home, having a bite to eat and going straight to bed. But now I'm a happy housewife, for a little while anyway, and am filling my days with domestic things like cooking and sorting out our wilderness of a garden until my course starts. (Incidentally, there's a chance they might not get the numbers to run the course I really want to do, so if anyone is near Gloucester and wants to train to be a chef in three months, you should come along and make up the numbers!)

Anyway, I'd like to share with you one of the newest obsessions in my life. Since I've had a bit more time on my hands, I've discovered the joys of baking bread by hand. People always say it's therapeutic and they are completely right - kneading dough is like squidging the world's best stress ball, and the results are far nicer than anything you buy in Tesco (those awful plastic white sliced loaves... yeeeuch). We bought a bread machine last year and used it constantly, but it's now confined to the cupboard while I get my hands messy.

And like any baking, it's a bit like alchemy. Take random ingredients, mix them together, throw them in an oven, and they turn into something completely different. It's fantastic. You don't even need a recipe once you get the hang of baker's percentages.

This is my latest loaf. The top is a little darker than it would be normally, due to me forgetting to move the oven shelf down a bit, but it doesn't taste burnt and it made for very yummy toast once I'd spread cherry jam on it :)

Go on, give it a try, I promise it's easier than you think. If you're tempted, pick up a copy of the
River Cottage Bread Handbook, which is gorgeous and I've taken to carrying it around in my handbag. Is that a bit weird?
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