15.8.06

Baking frenzy

Oh fix my hair, throw me a pinny and move me to Stepford. It's been baking bliss at the Hovel, as my creative wotsit lies fallow for a bit. Principally of the bread variety, though I did chance upon these plump little babies, while cycling out for 'The Times'...I do love a good honesty box and feel blessed that such things can still exist in our bit of the world.


I've persevered with the bread making - the key is to start first thing in the morning, then all you have to do is pop back every so often for the next stage. Although I'm using dried easybake yeast at the moment, I have discovered that it works better if I make an old-fashioned 'sponge' first; mixing the yeast with warm sugary water and a handful of the flour. In no time at all there is a heaving, bubbling mix which rises beautifully when made up into a dough with a slug of olive oil and a pinch of salt.


A quick knead, left for however long it takes to plump up in our cool kitchen cell, and then knocked back, massaged a little more, shaped and left again. I'm still battling with getting the right balance between having a wetter mix (I was making it too dry before) and having a dough which doesn't spread so much. This is why I haven't succumbed to a bread machine - I enjoy the process so much.


Oy - how did those gingerbread men sneak in?

17 comments:

joanna said...

Ooh, I can smell your bread from here - it looks delish - feel inspired to have a go myself! Just found your lovely blog - will definitely pop back for another visit soon :)

Gail said...

Hi Gretel - Mmm, it looks lovely, is this all today's? ... can I come for tea pleasssseeee?

My bf bought me a bread machine for my birthday last year and I've only used it once ... shame on me! ;) I have a problem with bread (especially freshly baked bread) and that is that I LOVE it SO MUCH!!!

Maya said...

umm...WOW!!
your baking talent and the sight of all that delicious looking fresh bread has left me speechless! :)

so...WOW!(again!)
p.s. I really wish that we were neighbours ;)

x's
maya

Daisy Lupin said...

Your bread looks so fantastic, in fact, I am sure I can smell the fragrance of new baked bread wafting past me. Could I have a slice please with some of that delicious looking cotswold honey on it.

Steph said...

Your artistic talents go WAY beyond the two dimensional! These look like they could be from some coffee table cookbook- the kind with fabulous pictures of things I know that if I try to make them, they will never look that good!

How much are plane tickets to England these days??

PG said...

Ooh, thank you everyone (hello Joanna!) - you are all lovely. I wish you were ALL my neighbours, and we could have a big bread festival. Gail, you dust off that machine Right Now! I'll be checking...

Steph, what with US flights not letting liquids or hand luggage on flights, you'd be in need of a bit more than bread at the end of it! But you are always welcome. :)

Donna said...

Mmmmm deelish blog Gretel. Your bread looks pretty perfect from where I am sitting. My mum used to bake all our own bread when we were young, good solid wholemeal stuff!!

Becky said...

Wow, all those loaves look really delicious. Have you ever tried making sourdough? The sponge starter sits in a corner bubbling and muttering away to itself for a week and looks pretty bloomin' inedible by the end of it, but makes a surprisingly tasty loaf.

The auriculas say helloo too, they're settling in well and looking happy.

lettuce said...

Hmmm - I DID succumb to a bread machine! but its def. better than buying bread.

I used to make all our bread and did similar, in a cold cottage in Durham with no central heating - a dough batter first, then adding the rest of the flour. Did lovely 100% wholemeal bread. Inspired by the Tassajara Bread book - get it if you haven't got it, its wonderful.

Tho your bread looks wonderful too, anyway...

lettuce said...

Tch, blogger just lost my comment!

Your bread looks wonderful. I used to make all ours and used a Tassajara bread book recipe (worth getting, if you don't have it....) - similar to you, beginning with a dough batter and adding the rest of the flour later. Perfect for a cold cottage without central heating in Durham.

I HAVE succumbed to a bread machine.... but its better than buying it.

SueC said...

Gretel....those look fab. But if you don't stop making the rest of us mere mortals feel inadequate in the baking department (and I refer to the Victoria spnge fiasco of the Watlington game...) then I shall put you in charge of the cricket tea web pages. How about it? You could have your own weekly column?? :-) :-)

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Oh yum. I love home made bread!

tea
xo

PG said...

Sue,I promise never to mention the s....e cake again...honest! ;)

CAS said...

What a mouthwatering post! I'd be tempted to have a go myself but there's nobody to share it with!

muddy red shoes said...

Yum...mmmmmmm....great looking bread, mine always doubles up as a doorstop so now I get a friendly Druid to make it for me!

Sue said...

Ooooooo yummy! I used to make bread a lot; our house was cold too, but it was ok if I could rise the bread next to the open fire. Now I have a bread machine, more boring but good results every time (ish!) The only gadgety thing I ever bought that is used regularly!
ooooo, Cotswold honey too! Mmmmmmmmm!

Joanna said...

Your bread looks heavenly. Honesty boxes are excellent. When we go to suffolk there is this lovely country lane full of market gardens all with honesty boxes its the best shopping experiance ever. We stock up with loads of really tasty stuff.