Tuesday, 22 May 2007

it's raining I'm baking

It'd been cold here. And wet. And while I can't complain about the wet after so long in the drought I must confess that winter is not generally a happy time for me. Except that it encourages baking.

Don't tell me you thought I had forgotten?

Let me introduce you to #6 It is a bit unfair of me to judge these ones, seeing as how I had them in the oven before I remembered about adding coconut, but judge them I will. I don't care for the addition of cinnamon. I tried, but no. The flavours just didn't blend for me. It was also weird that when I made them a few things happened.

First, the froth thing was frothier than in previous versions. Damn near overflowed onto the bench. Why this time? Perhaps the larger quantity of water? Perhaps the melted ingredients were hotter? Anyway, the whole effect substantially changed the texture of the mix in what I took to be a very good way. Much more aerated. Of course the absence of coconut would have played a part too. They spread in a very satisfactory classic Anzac kind of way and with the longer cooking time were a lovely dark brown and almost crisp. Fresh from the oven were really quite nice. Somewhere between #2 and #3 so both D and I were happy.

But when fully cooled they turned so soft as to seem almost wet again and the cinnamon hint developed much stronger and well, they were really pretty average. So sorry my flour manufacturer, your version gets the boo hoo.

Then on Sunday when we had no bread from breakfast I chucked out a quick damper and regaled Amy with stories of how mummy and daddy used to go bush for long stretches, away from towns and shops and people and even roads sometimes. And how mummy used to make damper on the campfire when there wasn't anything else to eat. But out of the oven it tasted pretty much like a great big scone and made me all sad and nostalgic.

And motivated me to try the no-knead bread I'd read about recently.

When Amy and I discussed our favourite foods while she was tossed up between chocolate and lollies (of course), for me bread was the clear winner. A good solid loaf, moist and fresh, preferably organic. Something with flavour that requires chewing. I could happily consume it for three meals a day. Oh I could go on.

One of the real disappointments of where we live is that the proliferation of bakeries in our vicinity includes not one decent bread maker. They all pump out those light fluffy loaves like you get in the supermarket, with no substance and no flavour. I'd rather eat newspaper.

I've been a long time bread lover. As a kid mum baked our wholemeal bread. For years I baked sour dough loaves almost every week from my home made leaven kept in the back of the fridge and pretty much every year I bake bread for our family Christmas. It's the closest thing to tradition I have. I've made loaves with fresh and dry yeast, using no yeast leavens and partially fermented bigas and with every kind of flour you can buy.

But I've never produced a standard loaf on par with my favourite bakers, such as the genius folk at Irrewarra. I have never made a bread that was like the shop kind in the crumb department. I've made some good bread, but not like them.

Well, now I have. This recipe is a bloody ripper. The proving in between cloths is a tad messy I grant you, but well worth it. And given that I used yeast six months past its use by date I got an excellent rise. Next time I'll use a smaller dish to get a higher narrower loaf, and I will definitely be on the lookout of for a rectangular lidded Pyrex in op-shops for the convenience of our toaster, but either way, this is great bread. Go make some. Really.

In non-baking related news,

I got my favourite top out of the drawer (isn't the screen printing lovely?) and was shocked to discover this had happened to the sleeve. No, we have no pets or wild animals or even mutant giant silverfish in the house. Nor do we have an aggressive dysfunctional top loading washer.

How did this happen, and more frighteningly, how could I have put it away from the wash without noticing??

I just finished this to keep D the builder's head warm.
It's the Monmouth cap, knitted in double strands of Zara wool left over from the cowl I did last month. It took 1.5 balls (75gms).I like the rim up more than down and I hate photographing hats on my own head. I had to mess with the pattern a bit (only 72 stitches) and made a few mistakes (like not slipping the marker each round) but hey. I like it and it's warm.

Now am onto this beret for Amy. 4ply for a hat is MADNESS.

Amy is advertising our drinking habits through her Art. I'm not sure how to respond. Except to admire her creativity and hope to god no psychologist ever gets a hold of and analyses it.

And is anyone else planning on going to the Brunswick wool expo on June 3?


shula said...

Hey Sooz,

Irrewarra girl. It's my favourite, too. Even better than de Chirico.

In a desert island decision, I'd take bread over just about anything.

samantha said...

bread wins hands down really - just so luscious all that fuffy whiteness - even better with lashings of butter, but my trainer doesn't agree - wouldn't take her though!!
P.s. I'm hoping to head to brunswick too.

leslie said...

wool expo, you say?

do tell.

Meaghan said...

You're my new hero. How you get all those things done, as well as looking after a semi newborn, a toddler and a rennovation, I have no idea. Hat (or beanie if the case may be) off to you!

Ash said...

Unzipped zips in the dryer - that's what does it to mine :(

VictoriaE said...

Amy's art is AWESEOME. I love everything about it - the bottle caps, the flower, the gorgeous little person.

kt said...

The bread is so drool-inducing as to cause me to sprint across the room for a napkin.

Fine, I get tidied up and scroll down and then explode with laughter, spewing saliva and tears onto the screen when Amy's piece shows up.

I love it. Brings to mind that nervous, peeking-over-my-shoulder feeling I get when noisily dumping our recycling into the bin the night before collecion, "Gee, there are an awful LOT of glass bottles and bottlecaps in there..."

yumptatious said...

Don't go cataloguing the alcohol consumption!!! This is why God invented the recycle bin: get rid of them before they build up and before you get to count them!
If you haven't got into a fight, than it's (beer, wine, methylated spirits if it 'economy month') obviously doing you some good.

kirsten said...

that bread looks fantastic - i'll be giving that recipe a go. it's the ultimate comfort food for me and the smell of fresh bread baking - nothing better! altho' maybe freshly mown grass... anyway, wish you were coming to blog meet 2 tonight (with bread in hand for me!). :)