Now the business of book scribing is well and truly underway, we’re having to embrace the laborious acts of weighing, measuring and recording every little pinch, splash and handful going into our pots. As regular readers will know, we tend to be a bit slap dash–leaving room for a cook’s instinct and wide margins for error but our publishers, quite rightly, demand some precision. Despite our initial sulk, we’ve embraced our scales and cooking to the gram, litre and tablespoon is actually proving to be quite rewarding. What better way to celebrate the fundamental science of cookery than to bake our own bread from scratch. It still amazes me that flour, water and yeast, when combined together in the right quantities and exposed to heat, can become something quite so delicious.
Back in November, thick slices of this bread were used to mop up the juices from a bowl of exquisite moules marinière in a family friend’s kitchen. I pleaded for the recipe and here it is. A food processor makes life much easier here but I don’t see why you couldn’t mix everything by hand. Although, if you’re lacking machinery, the soda bread below might be an easier option.
Wholemeal and granary boule.
250g granary flour
125g wholemeal flour
125g strong white or spelt flour
350ml warm water
10g dried yeast
Whizz all the dry ingredients together and gradually add the warm water until the dough has formed a solid lump that comes away from the blade and the edges of the bowl. Cover and leave to rise for an hour. Pulse the dough a few times to knock it down then turn out onto a floured board. Bring the sides of the dough to the middle, turning as you go to form a round loaf. Sprinkle with some seeds (I chose fennel) and some flakes of sea salt and bake on a tray in a hot oven for 35 minutes. Served here with lashings of butter, a Tuscan sausage cassoulet and some hefty Italian red.
Later in the week and feeling peckish after a morning taking care of business in Ellie’s kitchen/office we turned to Hugh F-W for a classic soda bread recipe. With the addition of a few favourite seeds, Ellie mixed, kneaded and criss-crossed the dough effortlessly in about 5 minutes flat. After 45 minutes in the oven with a pink peppercorn and thyme studded camembert, lunch was served. Turns out baking isn’t that scary after all.