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!