I’ve got a strong connection to bread – we are equally as dense but I’m not half as tasty. I also grew up with the smell wafting up to my bedroom every weekend, as my dad would rise early and make loaves and baguettes to have during the day.

As bread has been a staple for me, I felt that university was probably the time to stretch my wings and have a go at the craft that seemed so easy when I was younger.

From then on, I baked a loaf each day.

I started by baking a simple white loaf, and ended feeling simple myself as the yeasty mess I had inadvertently created slowly carbonised on the base of my oven. Clearly I had a long way to go.

From then on, I baked a loaf each day, initially letting the dough rise for a few hours before cooking. Still though, the loaves weren’t coming out as I’d hoped. The crust looked great, but turned out to be so tough a decent bread knife had trouble finding purchase. The crumb too (that’s the technical term for the soft part of bread), looked good but had a sponginess to it that made me wonder where I was going wrong.

As it turns out, I was being a complete idiot.  Putting a small amount of olive oil in with the yeast meant it was more akin to pizza dough. Don’t ask me why I did it, it just seemed right – I have no real excuse.

Mistake aside, my crusade for the perfect loaf continued. I began to make the dough in the evening, letting it sit overnight. The texture was good in the morning, the oven was primed, and my hopes were high.

Lining the baking tin with olive oil, I thought back to my childhood, and stared out at the garden that was littered with half eaten loaves.

My fingers were crossed as the timer ticked down.

Success!

 

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