Saturday, 12 February 2011

Wholemeal kneading to pot up

Oh dear this is very worrying. I decided today to make some bread. I've made bread before, but that was back in the mid 1980's when I had loads of time on my hands and began experimenting on foodstuffs. What on earth possessed me to become a bread maker now? Okay I'm on a health kick after being a bit under the weather at Christmas, but why not buy a loaf and relax. I lay there this morning listening to the birds, willing myself to pop to Sainsbury's to buy a loaf, but no. I'd said I was going to make bread today and come hell or high water it was going to happen. Aries men, when they get an idea in their thick heads, are neigh on unstoppable.

So I was off. Armed with a recipe for a 2 hour loaf I battened down the hatches and set forth on my voyage of yeast based foodstuffs. The recipe I had was for a wholemeal loaf. However I'm always worried about Julie, being a vegetarian, and whether she gets enough protein. I'm sure she does, but I still worry. So I adapted the formula to include quinoa flour to a ratio of 4:1 wholemeal : quinoa.

Now I know a lot of you out there knit yoghurt with abandon, I've seen the fabulous jams and bread stuffs emanating from the pages of your blogs. But this is exciting. I had no idea what I was doing, but worked out if I can mix a 4:1 cement based mortar, I can make bread. Ingredients measured, mix in the bowl, and hey presto a dome of pre-bread emerged which just, note the word, just, needed 5 minutes kneading. Nothing to it.

Blimey!! Who invented kneading bread? Not only did I require the power of a weightlifter, but 3/4 of the flourey-dough stuck to my hands and no amount of persuasion, cursing or brute force would get it to return to the work surface. Apparently dusting with flour helps, but I just turned white and sneezed a lot. Slight communication failure there. I take my hat off to you competent bread makers, you're geniuses, or is that genii?

Eventually though brute force and perspiration won the day and the now well pummelled mound was placed in a tin, plastic bag over, and leave for an hour to rise, or prove or something. I needed soothing so we headed off to the local tack shop where herself bought a natty little Toggi riding jacket and I tickled a Jack Russel's tummy.

We were actually out nearly 2 hours and I had visions of returning home to some form of Quatermass experiment. The bread would have risen out of the tin, and be now engulfing large swathes of the Somerset coastline. But no all was calm, and so in the oven it went.

Just half an hour later the oven went into labour, and being the proud expectant father I am, I delivered the baby myself.

And I have to admit, it is rather delicious. Slightly on the robust side of heavy, much like its father, but the texture was just the gnats pyjamas. Julie insisted we cut into the loaf immediately it emerged from the oven, so what you can not see here is all the steam. Anyway I enjoyed the experience so much, as I write this blog in the evening, there is another loaf, a platted loaf and 3 buns proving downstairs. I feel a business opportunity developing.

As if that wasn't excitement enough today, being a fabulous day weather wise, we spent 2 hours in the garden. It is always fab to get out into the garden after winter and start the process of replanting, and of course clearing up the mess after 3 months neglect.

Earlier in the week I had purchased 2 new terracotta pots and some spring bulbs. Like many I guess, my pots had suffered badly in the bad weather, with only the Yorkshire Pot company's frost proof ones surviving. Two new Yorkshire pots were therefore added to the collection, plus dwarf narcissus February Gold and dwarf tulip, Red Riding Hood. The plan for the two pots are a permanent shrub with under planting of spring bulbs. One pot will have a rhododendron I was given my a work colleague as a thank you many years ago, that had out grown its barrel, and the other will have a standard bay. Eventually. My father had grown a bay from a cutting, which while only 6 inches high when he brought it at Christmas, has obviously sentimental value beyond its size.

One pot down, and one pot to go, while all the time being watched by this cheeky chappy on the fence, keeping a close eye on the mound of compost in the wheelbarrow.


  1. The loaf looks scrumptious, Andrew - you have made me feel very hungry. There is nothing to compare with the smell of freshly baked homemade bread. It was a lovely day for gardening today - so mild and springlike and your planted pot looks very pretty.

  2. I love your comment "on the robust side of heavy", that just about sums up my bread making skills! I think I am somewhere between Ria in Butterflies and Nigella...I wish!
    That bread looks great,I can almost smell it.... have a nice weekend!

  3. OOOh that bread smells good! I cheat and use a breadmaker but there is nothing quite like a freshly baked loaf! I throw seeds into mine too (pumpkin and sunflower). I'm sure herself will get many years of wear out of her Toggi jacket - I am still wearing mine many years after my elderly pony departed and it is perfect for Orkney weather. I miss being around horses and ponies so hope for a sighting of either on your blog sometime ;-)

  4. Hi Ragged Robin and Goosey, thanks for your comments. The bread was edible, that's my opinion, so will try and fine tune the mixture and recipie over the coming months.

    Sian I had a chat with her indoors and watch this space for an equestrian blog one day soon.

  5. Your bread looks wonderful. I applaud you. I love the way you write (I know I've told you that before). You crack me up. I also applaud Julie for being a vegetarian...me too, for about 30 years.

  6. Hi Oldcrow, thank you for the vote of confidence with the writing. As for the bread, the jury is out for a while, edible but unimaginative sums it up. Julie says well done for being vegetarian too.