Loaf and Landscape

farmhouse loafAS I’M TRYING to get familiar with hills & dales of Yorkshire at the moment, it’s not surprising that this drawing of a farmhouse loaf has ended up looking like a landscape; I’m reminded of geologist P.F.Kendall’s description of the Cleveland Dome, gouged into by the deep dales of the North Yorks Moors, as resembling a ‘slashed doublet’ (doublet; a close-fitting medieval/Tudor jacket).

Breadmaking

I’m currently enjoying making our own bread, partly inspired by our new oven (the old one was getting through an element every six months) but also our large Ikea beechwood worktop that is such a pleasure to work on.

At the moment I carefully weigh out the five ingredients of a farmhouse loaf into a mixing bowl;

ingredients

  • four different kinds of flour, strong white, strong wholemeal, multi-seed or granary and rye
  • yeast
  • honey
  • warm water
  • a pinch of salt (less than the recipe suggests)

bread makingand, if I remember, a few extra mixed seeds. There’s no oil or margarine in this recipe.

Once I get familiar with the quantities, I’d like to try the method of making a circle of the flour on the worktop and adding the liquid until I get the right consistency.

Kneading the dough is a relaxing process and gives my arms and shoulders a much needed ten minute work-out. Something that I don’t get when I’m drawing or sitting at the computer.

Machine Made

breadmakerWe first started making homemade bread in a bread machine and did it that way for about ten years. It’s lovely to wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly baked bread but it’s a shame that apart from a little window in the machine you’re cut off from the process. You hear it clunking around as it mixes and kneads and it makes it seem a mysterious rather complicated and precise process.

food mixer

Two years ago we bought a food mixer with a dough hook and decided that was a simpler way to make bread. Getting so familiar with how the mixer handles the dough, we realised that the next step was to do the whole process by hand (and save a bit of washing up in the process).
If you miss out on the ‘knocking back’ process, you can produce a loaf in about an hour but the new oven has a rising setting so we knock the dough back after the first rising (in the oven) and let it rise again (out of the oven) as the oven heats up to 190°C.

knocking backKnocking back is part of the fun, as is slashing the dough with a sharp knife before the last rising. I like a cross for a round loaf and three slashes for a longer loaf.

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