29.7.06

Daily bread

I have always been lousy at making bread, and put it down to the old saw about hot hands making good bread and cold hands making fine pastry. With bad circulation I fall in the latter category, and my pastry passes muster. However, I have wondered if the lack-of-rising-abilities of my bread had more to do with the coolness of the cottage - with no central heating, draughts and a closet sized kitchen which opens directly onto the back yard - then any feebleness on my part. So, Wednesday last, on one of the hottest days of the year, I had the bright idea of giving it another go...and to make a whole chicken soup, just for extra punishment. We are lucky enough to live near a working flour mill, FWP Matthews - not a nice romantic spinning one, more like a Victorian orphanage, but it does make wonderful flour, especially the Cotswold Crunch, which I was using this time - 1lb of that to half a pound of white flour. Ordinary quick rise dried yeast, whack a slug of olive oil in, pinch of salt, bit of brown sugar in the warm water to mix with, and away I went, no buggering about.
I was determined this time; I kneaded that dough as if my life depended on it, and tucked it tightly undeneath until it could be tucked no more. And waited. In the sweltering heat, like a behemoth rising from the sea, my loaf rose. With a beating heart I gently manouvered the quivering mound into the little baby Belling 2 ring oven, '*handily* positioned behind the kitchen door.



It worked. It had a dense but soft texture, nutty flavour and crisp crust. It lasted 24 hours and then there were only a few crumbs to prove it ever existed at all. I no longer feel like a failure in breadland. It took about 20 minutes to make, plus rising/cooking time (roughly 1.30 hours in all) and cost about 50p. It doesn't solve the essential problem of how to bake in winter - it may just be a case of leaving it to rise for a very long time. But winter still seems a long way off...

16 comments:

Steph said...

Beautiful!

natural attrill said...

Well done you !!!

PG said...

Thankyou! (bows) Steph, if you get over here, I will attempt to re-create my masterpiece...

CAS said...

Well done!

I remember phoning my (ex)mother in law about bread, one evening, cos for she used to do something wonderful by feeding the yeast on blackstrap mollasses. It was only after I'd put the phone down I realised it was actually 11.30pm!!
She hadn't even mentioned it!

tlc illustration said...

Mmmmm. Molasses in bread... That sounds yummy. Gretel - this looks fabulous. Nothing beats crunchy crusted, soft, dense, homemade bread. Congrats on a very successful loaf.

Joanna said...

That looks wonderful bread. I love making bread and am very interested in trying different flour. I kept meaning to make my own yeast.

Steph said...

That's a great incentive!

Steph said...

That's a GREAT incentive!

Excellent Walker said...

That is beautiful! Homemade bread tastes better than any other.

lorna said...

woweeee! What an amazing loaf!

Tommy-Rocket said...

Wow!

CoralPoetry said...

You know there are bread-making machines on sale in Argos. It does EVERYTHING. You bung in all the raw ingredients plus water. It mixes, stirs and does as many heats and resting times as you need. There's slow or express and there are pizza recipes.

This is probably one of the best models but there are plenty of others.

http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/bread-maker/kenwood-breadmaker-bm200/1000345/

Regards,
Coral

Camellia said...

My grandmother used to set bread to rise in a covered bowl in her bed, with the electric blanket on. I saw a recipe somewhere that calls for the bowl with the dough in it to be set over a pan of boiled water to rise, and I used to put mine inside an open oven on a very low temp if the house was too chilly. Maybe one of these will help? Your bread looks excellent: nothing better than bread you made yourself :)

PG said...

Hi Coral, thank you for the link - that looks like one amazing machine, heavens, it kneads it as well! I have dithered about getting a machine, but I'm a stubborn fool who wants to be able to 'do it the old way', no matter how many frustrations it causes. In fact, my almost-mother-in-law read this posting and asked me (on the phone) if it was 'real bread, not one made in a breadmaker...' I've got another one to make this morning, and I will try a combi of long rising time and Camellia's pan of boiled water. It's colder today, so this will be a test. If it don't work, then I'm probably off to Argos for the Kenwood...

Spiderman said...

Gretel - the bread looks amazing. I really think you should try for the ultimate taste test at your local cricket club - fresh bread, cheese a little bit of pickle and perhaps a couple of home made cakes too!!!

PG said...

Hmmm, hello Spiderman...are you a member of ECC by any chance?? :)

(I'm not sure the world is ready for my stodge yet...)