art as well as a craft. I have yet to master the art - and probably never will. I use a bread machine.
All this started years ago when a good friend passed on her bread machine. She no longer needed it - or so she said.
The Senior Cat pounced gleefully on it. He has a strong, very strong, aversion to "square, white and sliced" and any other form of supermarket available bread. He will tolerate, just, some of the bread available in the local bakery.
What he much prefers is what he calls "real bread". In winter this means the heavy "German grain" mix with added pepitas and sunflower seeds. In summer he will go for the slightly lighter but still dense wholemeal version. There is also rye bread - if I have the six hours needed (or should that be "kneaded"?).
Occasionally, very occasionally, I experiment. Yesterday was one such occasion. A few days previously a complete stranger approached me in the library as I was putting a cookbook back on the shelf. (I had found it among the 400s instead of the 641s and was merely returning it to the rightful place.) It happened to be a book about bread-making. Now the stranger wanted to know if I had ever made bread. Well yes, I had. Did she want to know something.
She showed me the recipe. "I want to try this."
I read it, a recipe for "wholemeal hazelnut and apricot". Mmm...and, having every intention of trying it, I asked her to wait while I legally copied the page. She went off with the book. I went off with the recipe.
It was yesterday before I bought the ingredients. The bread flour I used was new to me - from a supplier within the state. The hazelnut meal I knew I could use in some biscuits for an afternoon tea I need to have - one of those ultra rare occasions on which I will (reluctantly) "bake". The dried apricots get used anyway. I had just run out of those. I did have to indulge in some actual hazelnuts but I only bought a tiny quantity.
After weighing and measuring carefully I flung the ingredients into the bread machine in the proper order. I set the proper cycle working and went about my other tasks. If it didn't work we would be reduced to the commercial emergency loaf in the freezer.
The Senior Cat thinks it worked. He liked it. I would make several changes to the recipe. I'd leave out the 50gms of hazelnut meal - and perhaps add a few more chopped nuts instead. I'd also toast the hazelnuts first. If I used that bread flour again I would also add a tiny, tiny pinch of salt. It had no salt at all and, whatever might be said about salt, there are some things that need just a little for other flavours to bloom.
The recipe was not sweet. There was no sugar in it at all so it went perfectly with cheese.
It occurs to me that I can vary this...what about fig and walnut or cherry and almond? Or, can you suggest something else?