Raising a toast to the art of making bread

By Chloe Scaling

Since the Easter holidays, I’ve been making my own bread, using a variety of flours and techniques, but limited equipment: the only bread-maker in my kitchen is me! I’ve barely bought a loaf in six months and I’ve never been happier.

One of the techniques James Morton’s Brilliant Bread has taught me is to leave bread in the fridge for a longer prove (all day or all night), as the yeast still works its magic and more complex flavours are able to develop. Personally, I’m not sure about the difference in flavour, but it’s incredibly practical for people with busy lives and I think it proves that most people have time to make their own bread. All you need is a couple of hours here and there.

Watching dough grow is incredible, as if you’ve enchanted it to become something more.

It’s no secret that bread-making is therapeutic, with the process of kneading dough being similar to using a stress ball, but I often find that the act of weighing out flour, salt, yeast and water is enough to relax me. There’s something special about using only four simple, cheap ingredients, to make something which will fill the house with the best smell on earth, and taste divine.

Bringing dry ingredients together, adding water and moving it around forcefully before applying heat seems like an odd hobby, but watching dough grow is incredible, as if you’ve enchanted it to become something more. The sight of the complex strands of gluten as you pull the dough (which is twice the size as it was pre-prove) away from the side of the mixing bowl will never cease to amaze me. Whether I’m making a simple white loaf, pitta breads to eat with hummus, naans to eat with curry or creating a recipe, I’m happy. As I try new recipes and watch dough grow, I feel almost like a proud mother: bread is my baby.

Inspired by this year’s Bake Off bread week, I’ve tried incorporating winter squash into my bread, which makes the dough a beautiful colour. I’m looking into using beetroot and pumpkin too: rainbow bread should be the new rainbow cake. Colourful, homemade food gives me so much joy, I don’t think I can explain it coherently to people who don’t enjoy cooking or baking.

As I try new recipes and watch dough grow, I feel almost like a proud mother: bread is my baby.

I’ve said to friends so many times over the past few months: if I could spend all day watching Netflix or listening to podcasts and making food, I definitely would. Now, let me go and feed my sourdough starter…

Photograph: Rosie Russell-Cohen

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