In the early hours of the morning there are armies of bakers around the world transforming the humblest of ingredients – flour, yeast and water into their national bread: the hot crusty French baguette; dark, sweet Polish rye; fluffy Indian nan; sesame-coated Turkish simit – the list is endless.
Due to various food intolerances I have to hunt for the very best quality bread before I can indulge. Often I make my own and I find kneading the dough very therapeutic it beats slamming the door in a temper every time! The in-laws live just up the road from a working windmill so bags of wholemeal, buckwheat and spelt flour are brought from Alford, Lincolnshire to London on a regular basis.
Sourdough was abundant in Barcelona; it went down well with our recent rib feast. Making this bread is apparently according to all the books, a tricky business – it is on my challenging list of foodie things to achieve along with soufflés, meringues and macaroons. You have to make your own sourdough starter in order to begin, and as we can’t even keep a house plant alive I think that we will leave it for now!
Find out more about bread by going along to the Real Bread Festival which kicks off tomorrow, 5 October until Sunday 7 October.
Sourdough’s actually very easy – you’re welcome to some of my starter if you want an old starter to, erm, start from.
You can mistreat starter loads and it’s just fine – bung it in the back of the fridge for weeks, freeze it for ages, it doesn’t mind – but you do have to treat it well before baking. And it requires a mental adjustment from fresh industrial yeast – it’s much slower. You start planning to bake days before the loaf is due to be eaten!
Also, Second Nature on Wood Street stocks really good bread flour!
thanks for this – will try…..
sometimes yeast scares me and sieotmmes it doesn’t. for example i’m famous for whipping up pizza dough one weeknight and then having it ready for the next night. no problem. but then i never try making complicated breads, like forget about starters. i have had luck with no-knead breads though. they make things a little less scary. but as for quick breads, i’m pretty much obsessed.
Thanks for this. can i take you up on the starter offer?
I would say I have two favorite smlles fresh coffee brewing and yeast bread baking in the oven. Mmmm. I grew up in a home where my mother made bread every Saturday morning for our large family. She handled those hunks of yeast dough with such confidence like they were just another one of her kids! I didn’t realize how much I learned just by observing her, but working with yeast is one of my all-time favorites. Keep up the great work, Maggy. Now hmmmm, when can I come for dinner at your place?!!!
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I’ve made lots of bad bread! Bricks, lumps, mush, 1 inch bricks. But my huabnsd found the Artisan Bread book and there’s been no looking back. Another person commented on that book as well. It’s terrific. We really missed the old Midwood Brooklyn rye bread but now I can make it and it’s great. Don’t give up! Don’t be afraid! Keep trying! (Now if I could apply those encouraging words to help me overcome my fear of pie crust!)