Friday, 19 April 2013

Goddess of domesticity

Something most remarkable has happened in our neck of the woods - the domesticity goddess came to visit a couple of weeks ago and is still here. It started off with a need to either throw out all my good hair bands (for clients) because the velcro had worn out or else to pick the velcro off and sew on new extra long patches. Amazingly, I fetched the sewing machine from my sister and took the latter option. Having completed a job (double yay that I completed something) I then looked around at what else I could sew and took a couple of sizes off my favourite summer shift dress. It is a simple blue gingham Marks & Spencer number that I bought from a charity shop over six years ago and I still wear even though it was getting baggier with my shrinking weight. Now it fits me fabulously, all slim and curvy. All enthused I then hemmed some gorgeous sarong fabric I have and used exciting stitches as it is a computer sewing machine. It took some work getting the tension right and there are still issues which I will work out in due course.

A couple of days later, somewhere out of the blue, I decided to make my first loaf of bread. It was an incredible success. Delicious, risen and not the slightest whiff or taste of yeast. A delight. That weekend followed with waking up unnecessarily at 6am and wandering into the kitchen. By the end of Saturday I had made at least three different types of bread, including wholemeal, a tin loaf, Paul Hollywood's eight plait loaf, and Chelsea Buns. I had always thought Chelsea Buns were too difficult but not in the least. At the end of the day I took my basket of baked goods and walked over to my sis and family to share my wares with suitably impressed responses.

Sunday was a similar story and by the end I had made whole grain malt bread (aka Granary but apparently Granary is a trademarked name!) which I consider to be one of my best breads so far, burger buns (just four so that my son could make us burgers for dinner), bagels, and started a sourdough starter. The bagels were mixed by hand as I do not have one of those fancy kitchen mixers and my goodness the workout I received. They were actually good and tasted like bagels - maybe not the best bagels but not too bready. When making them and with all the workout I thought I'm never doing this again. It was like having a baby, once the finished article was there I am full of excitement to do them again and how to improve (that last bit is definitely not like having a baby because they all come out looking perfect no matter what!). Talking of which, my son actually took a picture of my bagels to show his friend and even wanted to to take some in to work to give to his baking friends! I declined as they are just my first batch and will hopefully be better other times.

Since then I have had a full work schedule though somehow have managed to experiment with making crumpets and yesterday I made French baguettes. Oh my goodness. The baguettes looked like something out of a proper bakery and tasted pretty good. I don't have any fancy equipment and used a floured tea towel to help shape them and put them onto a regular baking tray to cook - I don't have a baking stone. The French sticks can still be better and so I am looking forward to making those again. From 500 gm of bread flour plus a little yeast, salt and water yielded 4 medium sticks. A bag of bread flour costs 80 pence and contains three times that amount of flour. I reckon the cost of running the oven for twenty minutes plus heating time cost as much as the flour.

The sourdough starter is being nursed. I am just using the flour and water variety and currently it is at the stinky stage. By early next week it should transform into something supposedly lovely and can be used as a yeast substitute. I am gobsmacked that at last in my life I can eat homemade bread and think "wow" this tastes amazing and not taste the yeast.

One wonders how long this curiosity and enjoyment will last so I am just enjoying it for now. Part of me wants to retire and just bake bread and sew! I have lots of photos of course - just like a new parent. However, as I am off to work shortly it was either a case of what baked goods could I make before going or write a blog post. Photos will have to be added another time.

Busy day and weekend ahead. Have to be somewhere at 6am on Saturday and Sunday as I am volunteering at a community event. Oh joy, when I said I would help I had no idea it would mean 6am starts. And bread making will have to take a back seat. At least I can tend to my sourdough starter.

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