Monday, January 16, 2006
Home is where the Heart is - and if Homemade Bread's there too, that's nice!
I'm bad. There I go, leaving y'all with nothing - NOTHING! - for an entire week - again! But you see, it is not for of lack of "want", nor is it too much "must do" or need of perfection that 'causes me to not post so much at the moment. It's only because of - yet another - darn exam. And the other thing. Oh yes, the other thing is taking up quite an amount of my time as well. I'll get back to the other thing.
Anyways: don't you just love the smell of freshly baked bread? I know I do. For some reason, I've never been afraid of the whole yeast/too much cold/draft thing. I used recipes, I measured flour, water, yeast, salt - I kneaded, proved, knocked back, shaped, proved again - baked. Not thinking too much about it, just doing it. I used to bake around a hundred rolls every morning back when I ran a canteen, not giving it much thought.
But I don't think I ever really understood what it was all about, before I started baking all of the bread I eat at home myself. It was back when Martin and I lived in London, and there was no way of getting a decent loaf of bread unless you wanted to pay an arm and a leg for it. So, browsing the piles of cookbooks on sale in Selfridges I found Linda Collister's The Bread Book. And I think it's safe to say it was nothing short of a revelation to me.
I mean, before that I'd learned as much as: yeast is a kind of small cells that walks around in the dough, eating little bits of flour and farting, hence making everything rise (is that too cute an explanation or what??) and that you really shouldn't use liquid that was too warm, or too cold - but the whole thing about the dough being alive, or proving it in a hot versus a cold environment, or adjusting the amount of yeast - I had no idea. Linda's book was read from one end to the other. At first, I thought that proving a dough for 2 hours was just plain ridiculous - I was used to a maximum of half an hour - and, well, half a ton of yeast more than what Linda suggested. But I did as I was told. And I haven't looked back since.
Or, wait, that's a slight exaggeration. For a year or so, I baked a lot. Sour doughs, rye bread, rolls - you name it. And I still bake every now and again, but it's not like it used to be. Now, we rely heavily on Emmerys. They make wonderful bread, but the thing is - it doesn't come with the smell. Sure, if you poke your nose deep enough in the brown paper bag, you'll get an idea of it - but it really isn't the same.
So - I would promise myself to bake more bread this year. I would. It's not that hard, and I've become pretty confident about changing all sorts of recipes to fit my temper - some days I do have hours and hours to wait for something to prove, at other times it's just easier to scoot everything into the fridge and let it take care of itself in there, then get back to it the next day. I would do it.
I can even prove, that sometimes, I do do it. Sometimes home is where homemade bread is - especially if it's this kind of bread.
Grandma Bread or Mormorbrød - courtesy of Camilla Plum
This is a bread that's just a touch more special than a plain white because of the use of milk, butter and eggs. Not rich like a challah, but somewhere in between challah and plain white, I'd say.
30 g. fresh yeast (if you want to leave the dough in the fridge overnight to prove, use only 5-10 grams)
200 ml. tepid milk
100 ml. melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
500 g. flour
Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk. Add the egg, butter, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve. Add 3/4 of the flour, kneading as you do so. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes - add the rest of the flour if necessary. Leave the dough to prove for a couple of hours (about 2 hours if you're on the full amount of yeast - you could confidently leave it in the fridge to rise for 6 hours, on the smaller amount of yeast)
Knock back the dough and shape into a loaf. I usually use a bread pan, but you could also bake it free form. Leave to rise for 1 hour (perhaps a bit longer if it's straight out of the fridge) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread.
- And yet. I hope my home is not defined by where I bake my bread. Because it's not being done as much as it should, and well, it's not going to change for a while - not in this home, anyways. You see, getting back to "The Other Thing".
No, I'm NOT pregnant! No, no, this is something I have to do BEFORE I get pregnant - and I'm not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon, but really - should we just stop with all of the pregnancy talk now?? Okay. Good.
Martin and I have been - NO, we're NOT getting married either! C'mon. It's way more down to earth than that. Or actually, there'll be flying involved. And driving by car. Lots of driving. And no real home, no our home, for a while.
On March the 1st., or somewhere around that date anyways, Martin and I are going to pack our bags, empty our bank accounts, take our hearts (and not so much homemade bread) and fly to Miami, Florida, buy a car - and go on a roadtrip across USA. We've been talking about doing this since this summer, then came the move and school and all sorts of distracting stuff, but now - NOW - oh wait, now there's an exam, hovering above my head. Argh.
So I'm asking for your help here. I need help, hints, plans, ideas, suggestions - everything! I'm dying to plan more of what we're going to do, but "research" these days means shoving my head deeper into the medical books, NOT surfing the internet. We have at least a TON of questions, some of them in the "F-U-N" category, and some of them more related to insurances/buying cars etc. But I thought I'd start by asking you all the most basic of basic questions:
Where should we go?? Why should we go there? Should we come see you and maybe try your homemade bread;-)? Okay, okay, it doesn't have to involve you baking bread, but there's no doubt I'd love to meet as many of you as possible along our way!
Feel free to use the comment section or drop me an e-mail - I can't wait to hear your suggestions!