Thursday, 7 April 2011
I have a number of books
about bread. They were given to me by someone who decided that she no longer wanted the books - or her bread machine. Making bread, even in a bread machine, was "too much bother". We have a bread machine and I use it. Once in a while I may buy a loaf of bread. I will do it if, for example, I need to make a loaf of bread into sandwiches. A square shape is useful for sandwiches. I can also get it pre-sliced. It is quick and convenient. Making bread in a bread machine is not terribly difficult or time consuming. I have a basic recipe I use for our usual bread. I use use wholemeal or wholegrain flour and add seeds or nuts to vary it slightly. I make a medium sized loaf and it will last us several days. I do give a little thought to when I am going to do it. The process takes between four and five hours. I need to start the process off. If I want to add additional ingredients I should try to be around about an hour later, after the first kneading. I then need to be around to take the finished loaf out at the end of the process. Cleaning the machine afterwards is a matter of a few minutes. The smell of fresh baked bread fills the house. My father eats more bread than I do. He likes what he calls "real bread". He does not consider white, sliced bread in a plastic packet to even be bread. Real bread, according to my father, is at least brown and preferably dense. I occasionally experiment with other varieties from the books I have been given. Guests once consumed an entire loaf of bread made with tomato juice for the liquid and with added olives. I have added cheese, parsley, onions and other savoury ingredients. I have added dried fruit, nuts and spices to other loaves. I have used corn, barley, oats and rye as well as wheat in varying combinations. It is interesting to experiment. Reading about bread has made me realise how little I know about one of our staple foods. It would be possible to spend a lifetime studying bread and how it is made. I wonder about the person who gave me the books and who gave away her bread machine. She is much younger. She has a family. For her, bread is what comes in a plastic packet. Her children would be old enough to weigh and measure the ingredients and make their own bread. They could put it on the delay timer and have fresh bread for breakfast, sandwiches for school lunches. Instead they buy their lunch each day, often sandwiches of square white sliced bread. One of her girls came to see me yesterday afternoon. While I was reading what she had written she was prowling along the bookshelves. She chose a book and looked at it, one of her mother's books. "Mum had a bread machine. She gave it to someone. I wish she hadn't because some of these look good. We only get the plastic sort of bread." I feel sorry for her.