Up until recently, bread-making never really held much appeal for me. As the kind of baker who is interested in elaborate cakes and beautiful desserts, bread just didn’t seem particulary…exciting. It probably didn’t help that my previous experiences with it were mostly related to Year 7 Food Technology classes; I know few 11-year olds who are actually interested in Food Technology, let alone interested in the concepts behind making good bread. (One memorable class involved a boy making rolls flavoured with Tabasco and attempting to drink a teaspoonful of the chilli sauce as a dare.)
Past attempts at bread-making have frequently resulted in tight, heavy loaves, probably dense enough to knock someone out with if you were inclined to try. (Just to clarify, I’ve never actually done this…) As such, bread seems to be one of my problem recipes in the kitchen, much as meringues and French macarons have been. However, discovery of a new recipe and some new tips and techniques recently (courtesy of The Fabulous Baker Brothers book, which is wonderful by the way) have been a revelation.
This was my first ever successful loaf of bread; from dough to proof to oven, it did everything the recipe said it would. Normally, I have problems getting the dough to rise enough, but this one behaved perfectly. The crust was crisp and crunchy, the texture of the bread soft but still substantial, a world away from the cotton wool-like sliced white loaves you find so often in supermarkets. I think the trick lies in the kneading; this recipe called for fifteen minutes or as long you can, and compared with my past efforts, it made a noticeable difference.
So eager was I to see how this loaf had turned out, I could hardly wait for it to cool after coming out of the oven. However, my (reluctant) patience was eventually rewarded and there can be few things in life more satisfying than warm, home-baked bread and butter…
(Recipe by Tom and Henry Herbert, taken from The Fabulous Baker Brothers.)