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?