With the wonderful 'Great British Bake Off' starting tomorrow I thought I would post a Guest Post I wrote some time back for Penny wise penny.
I have also been baking non stop for the past week for a party last Saturday to celebrate Baby figs 21st birthday on the 15th August - we had a fancy dress Alice in Wonderland tea party - with embroidered table cloths, mismatched china, cucumber sandwiches and lots of cakes. If it has taught me one thing it is NEVER to attempt to enter the GBBO!
Bread has been around for about 30,000 years. It is still a staple in most European diets, and comes in more shapes and variations that you can shake a stick at. It is filling and comforting, and there is nothing more satisfying than making your own.
At one time making the daily bread was part of most housewives’ routine, in fact for many cultures it still is, but for most of us the routine has changed to buying either a mass produced supermarket loaf or maybe treating yourself to an artisan loaf every now and again.
I am not trying to convert you to giving up shop bought bread, but I am trying to encourage everyone to have a go at making just one loaf – you never know where it will lead, and the whole experience is more than likely to lead to more bread making, experimenting and appreciation – it is just so satisfying on so many levels, and very economical!
A basic loaf of bread is made from fewer ingredients than you may imagine, a strong bread flour can cost as little as 80p for 1.5kg, enough for 2 large loaves, dried yeast lasts for ages, but do check the use by date, after all it is a living organism – and fresh yeast is incredibly cheap, even free at certain supermarkets – just ask at the bakery section - but please only get an ounce at a time as it doesn’t last long! Then you will need a couple of teaspoons of salt, an ounce of butter, and water – that’s it! And if you don’t have a loaf tin use a flat oven tray – there is really nothing to stop you having a go, and I promise you all your senses will be in for a treat.
From the texture of rubbing the silky flour and butter between your fingers, mixing in the warm water, the change in the dough’s texture as you knead it to become a stretchy, smooth pliable balloon. Your eyes will never become tired of the delight of seeing the bread rise under its damp cover as the yeast works its miracle. The smell is comparable to nothing else, warm, homely, comforting, and finally the taste – a slice of warm soft spongy bread with butter gently melting into it might give you serious indigestion, but trying to resist really is futile, even the day after, if there is any left, toast a slice and cover with home made jam or marmalade for breakfast – it doesn’t get much better!
So what are you waiting for? Most bread making products, i.e. the flour and yeast will come with a basic recipe printed on them, give it a go and if you become hooked, experiment! I can assure you, the final sense you will experience is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Happy bread making!