On the menu – bread

Friday

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I definitely have a new passion …. bread, being a keen cook, I’ve of course made bread before and I enjoyed it but it was always fairly straightforward recipes, my eyes would skirt around complicated looking recipes with words like levain and poolish and definitely bypass anything that would take longer than a day but no, not now, I’ve dived in with geeky fervour.

On Friday, I had set up the first stage of a sourdough that I was planning on making on Saturday but I wanted bread ASAP too, so I decided to make the Seedy Soda Bread from The Midlife Kitchen (even though the yeasted bread geek in me did not like the accompanying blurb with the recipe, going on about how no one has the inclination to make yeasted bread and how homemade yeasted bread turns into a doorstop within half a day, huh, they’re making their yeasted bread wrong then). Anyway, I managed to stop myself from waving around my jar of sourdough starter in protest and made the soda bread. And it was okay, to be honest, I’ve never been a particular fan of soda bread but I found this to be a bit stodgy, S + Z though, who are happily loving their mum’s current bread obsession, really liked it because well, S is a teenager and Z is going through a growth spurt and well, carbs.

The reason, by the way, I needed bread ASAP was because I had some wild garlic in the fridge (not that wild, I got it from Ocado) and I really wanted to try melted cheese with wild garlic on a thick slab of bread (having been inspired by a photo from John Whaite, which I can’t find now, otherwise I’d link to it). And, anyway, yep, wild garlic and melted cheese on a thick slab of bread is very nice indeed, although it would have been nicer, as in John Whaite’s photo, if the bread had been a sourdough but I needed to use the wild garlic up and the sourdough wouldn’t be ready until the next evening. (By the way, those tortilla crisps in the photo, I am addicted to them, Manomasa’s Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, Z loves them too, S on the other hand can’t even stand the smell of any type of tortilla crisp, strange child).

Saturday

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Next up on the list of sourdough I wanted to try was the Multiseed Sourdough from the Modern Baker book (although I still stuck with the general method from James Morton’s book). Switching between two recipes was a little tricky and I made a mistake with the seeds that were meant to be on top of the bread, you’re meant to sprinkle them in the proving basket, whereas I added them just before the bread went in the oven, so most of them fell off, other than that it was pretty successful! The bread had a lovely crisp, chewy crust and a nice texture inside, although I found the addition of the seeds (which were also mixed with the dough) made the resulting bread a little stodgy (so maybe that’s why I found the seeded soda bread from Friday, stodgy too). Again, the kids loved it, I liked it too but it made me hanker after the plainness of last weekend’s sourdough, a bit.

Tuesday

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I have fond memories, from when I was a kid, of going into the bakers and being fascinated by the cottage loaves on the baker’s shelves. So when I saw this recipe in Slow Dough, Real Bread, a collection of recipes put together by Chris Young from The Real Bread Campaign, I had to have a go.

This recipe uses normal, commercial yeast but is different from previous loaves of bread I’ve made with commercial yeast, in that you use far less and have much longer rising times to compensate. This results in a better flavour and texture apparently and I can definitely vouch for that. Although the recipe was largely made with strong white bread flour, there is also some wholemeal flour and some rye flour in it, so the bread, when cut open, had a lovely colour.

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Having been mainly making sourdough recently, the cottage loaf made a pleasant, striking change, as it was so pillowy soft, although the crust still had some nice substance to it. The taste was interesting too, almost sourdough-ish without it actually being a sourdough, I’m guessing that’s the longer fermentation for you. And again, both kids loved it.

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