“[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells…there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
M. F. K. Fisher, ‘The Art of Eating’
I must admit, bread is most definitely one of my vices, it’s right up there with wine, coffee and chocolate. I know I shouldn’t eat too much of it, its not good for my waist, and I find I can do without most things, but bread is something that I really struggle to give up.
I wonder if it has something to do with the heavenly smell that it fills the house with while it’s cooking? Maybe it’s just that it tastes so darn good! It could also be because it’s so versatile and a great accompaniment to most meals.
I made a few loaves over the weekend. We had the baguettes that we had as Garlic bread and
Brushetta on Friday night. They were really easy, just made some white dough in the bread maker, added a little extra sugar, split the dough into two logs. I scored the top and let it rise. Just before I started to cook the dough I added a roasting pan with some water to the bottom of the oven, this creates steam in the oven and assists in making the outside of the bread all crispy and chewy.
Saturday lunch we had a savory loaf. Again just some white dough in the bread maker, then I shaped the bread and score the top lengthwise down the middle and let it rise. I topped it with some tomato relish, sliced tomatoes, bacon, heaps of cheese and some oregano and thyme from the garden. Yum!!
Last night we had our traditional weekly meal with some great friends of ours (our neighbors), it was our turn to head down the road and I took some garlic bread, with a twist. Again, white dough in the bread maker and then I rolled it out into a rectangle and spread a generous layer of minced garlic, oregano and parmesan over the top. Then I rolled it up and let it rise on the oven tray, and baked it in the oven.
Just now for lunch I have made a traditional Cheese Loaf – I was naughty and cut into it while it was still warm, but it tasted so good with a bit of Olivani spread on it. The house smells amazing at the moment, and I feel surprisingly calm, for a Monday.
We have only been in our new house just over a year, and it has taken me a while to master the ovens. Both are exactly the same model, but interestingly enough they cook quite differently. One is great for roasting and the other makes better bread and baking, I only found out by trial in error. The other thing that has taken time to learn, is where to position the bread in the oven, what temperature to have the oven set to and how long to leave the bread in the oven, as all ovens are different. But I have it sussed now. 195 ºC for 20 minutes on the second to bottom rack in our oven.
I love playing with bread, there are so many things that you can do with it, not to mention all the different types to make.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” —M.F.K. Fisher