Monday, 6 January 2014

2013 Bread Challenge


Happy New Year! Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year. We did, but now it's nearly time for back to school and work - Mr DC has already been back for days. We took down the decorations yesterday, always for me a far more depressing day than Boxing Day ever was.

I don't make resolutions to get fit or lose weight or give up wine or chocolate - I never, ever stick to them and don't have any desire to make myself feel guilty over my inability to keep them. Instead, I've set myself a variation on a challenge I took up a couple of years back. At the start of 2012, I decided to try at least one new recipe every week - which doesn't sound much but we were falling into a tedious pattern of cooking the same meals each week despite having a shelf filled with cookery books. It worked, and we're still sticking to it.

One of those books is the River Cottage bread handbook. It was a birthday present and the recipes are very reliable - I've made the basic white loaf and the focaccia countless times. I've become far braver about hand kneading and working with very sticky dough, and my bread making has definitely improved but I'm ready for a new challenge. So this year, determined to become a better baker, I've decided to work my way through it, nominally one loaf per week but we shall see. I am inspired by @littlegreenshed on twitter, who is involving her whole family in a year long quest to bake a loaf each week.

I had intended to start with seeded granary bread; I was a rather low on supplies, but I pressed on using some Wessex Mill malted flour I had in the cupboard. I opened the packet and was a bit perturbed by the colour; I pressed on regardless but as it turned out to be heading towards malt loaf (which, to be fair, was the manufacturer's intention!) I mixed it half and half with strong white bread flour and threw in a handful of roughly chopped pumpkin seeds. It turned out well, though I'm not sure the flour is one I'd buy again once this bag is used up. I've since read that Baking James Morton used an even smaller proportion of this flour in the loaf he made with it.


It does make good toast though!

24 comments:

  1. Trying new recipes is a great idea - I bought Georgina Fuggle's 'One Pot' book and every one we've tried is a winner.
    This year I'm experimenting with recipes using my new pressure cooker.

    btw that bread looks amazing! xx

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  2. Ooh that looks delicious. I love pumpkin seeds in a loaf.

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  3. Well done for conquering sticky dough. It's something I've never managed to do despite making several loaves every week.

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    1. Oh, and also well done for not making all those boring health resolutions -just been writing about the very same thing.

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  4. A great idea, no doubt you will find some recipes to treasure.

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  5. Ooh that looks lovely! I do love a good loaf of bread :) Happy New Year!

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  6. Hello :) So pleased you are taking part too, the more of us the merrier I say! I made my first this weekend too, I will blog about it this week at some point! Natalie xx

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  7. I am going to make more new recipes too. and a few old favourites. instead of ten minute pasta dishes...............

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  8. We love new cookbooks at Christmas. CK has been making Mexican dishes from his.

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  9. Happy New Year my lovely. That looks deelish. You may have inspired me to make more bread...
    Ax

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  10. This seems to be a year of no resolutions for lots of people, me incuded. I like the idea of new recipes though. Happy New Year to you all.

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  11. I am so up for a loaf a week! Look forward to seeing yours. Happy new year x

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  12. Well would you believe it? I'd decided on exactly the same challenge - to bake one new loaf every week. I'm planning to start with soda bread. Looking forward to comparing notes.

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    1. Brilliant - will keep an eye on your progress too. I love soda bread; probably I love it too much given how quick it is :-)

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  13. Oh how fun! That sounds like a wonderful challenge -- I'm looking forward to seeing your progress!

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  14. Oh wow! Thanks for joining me... it's going to fun. We are already discussing this weeks loaf, it might be a foccaccia. Looking forward to seeing your progress. If you are on instagram and also for twitter the hashtag is: #52loavesproject so we can all find each others posts. Lou x

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  15. brilliant idea! I've started working my way through my cookery books and it really does help lift monotony from our supper table.

    poppyinstitches@yahoo.co.uk

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  16. I agree with you, why make resolutions you can't keep. Resolving to cook something new each week is a great idea! I look forward to seeing what you make.

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  17. oh wow. I'm impressed. I'm so tempted but bread making... but the more I make the more eat and me and wheat don't really get on at the moment. Sigh. (Gluten free bread... doesn't sound too appetising... but maybe I should just try it!)

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  18. I think the no chastising resolutions, but making time for the things you really want to do instead is indeed the way forward.

    And every time I am struggling to knead a wet dough, I can hear Paul Hollywood saying 'a wet dough makes a far superior loaf'… clearly I watch far too much food related TV.

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  19. It looks like a lovely loaf. I used to make bread often but I'm really, really trying to cut down on wheat in general (and lost other grains) and I just can't resist lovely home-made bread, I just keep eating it. I'm rubbish with a very wet dough, I'm guilty of using the kitchenaid I'm afraid (but I do like hand kneading). I look forward to hearing with loaves you like best, perhaps the occasional bread baking session is allowed! Bethx

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  20. sorry, loads of typos in the above, but you get the idea!

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  21. That loaf does look like perfect toasting bread. I used to bake yeast breads years ago, and more recently I went through a period of making soda bread a couple of times weekly, to go with soups and stews. But I don't normally eat much bread, so even homemade bread isn't a craving for me. On the other hand, I have decided to work on piecrust this year! Fingers crossed that eventually I will turn out nice (or at least edible) pies, turnovers, and pasties :)

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  22. What a fab idea to bake a loaf a week. That sounds a lot more do-able than a daily effort. Love the idea of involving all the family. I might just pinch that idea too! Happy new year.

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