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					                             Why bake
                             bread?
                             Daniel Stevens, from River Cottage, on the
                             pleasure of home made bread
                             THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD AS SATISFYING TO EAT AS
                             home­baked, homemade bread. Of course, technically the artisan
                             baker down the road is much better at it, but no amount of skill and
                             craftsmanship can replace the utter joy of eating and sharing the stuff
                             you make yourself. And it is practical to make bread – exceptional
                             bread – with your own hands, in your own home, on a regular basis.

                             I know you are busy, so you can start with a roti – a flatbread you can
                             make, from cupboard to table, in less than five minutes. But I know
                             that you also have free time, and I hope that I can persuade you that
                             free time spent in the kitchen – by yourself, with friends or with
                             children, with music in your ears, wine in your glass, flour in your hair
                             and magic in your hands – is time that could not be better spent.

                             If you are new to bread making, this sense of pleasure might not be
                             immediate, but I am confident that you will reach it more quickly than
                             I did. I remember my first loaf well – even the birds wouldn’t eat it. I
                             had followed the two page recipe to the letter and the cookbook
                             assured me that ’homemade bread is easy’. That was rather hard to
                             swallow (as was my bread). Still, I soldiered on, day after day. After all,
                             practice makes perfect.

                             There are two kinds of bread in the world: bread that hands have
                             made, and bread that hands have not. In an ideal world, all bread
                             would be hands­have­made – by your hands and my hands, and by the
                             hands of those few professional bakers left in this country who are
                             still doing it properly. I guess there will always be hands­have­not
                             bread, and while it’s not that bad, or at least it is surely edible, it seems
                             a shame that bread has become so standard and commonplace, that
                             we don’t even consider what a small miracle a risen loaf is.

                             Mass­produced Bread
                             Some would say that 1961 was a bad year for bread. It was the year
                             the Chorleywood Bread Process came into being. Developed by the
                             Flour Milling and Baking Research Association in Chorleywood, the
                             process revolutionised the baking industry. This high­speed
                             mechanical mixing process allowed the fermentation time to be
                             drastically reduced, and meant that lower­protein British wheats
                             could be used in place of the more expensive North American imports.
                             Various chemical improvers and antifungal agents are necessary
                             ingredients, as are certain hydrogenated or fractionated hard fats.
                             This is high­output, low­labour production, designed to maximise
                             efficiency and profit at the expense of the consumer.


www.roundandaboutssh.co.uk                                         GODALMING & VILLAGES R&A          x 19
>> why bake bread?

Mass­produced bread is almost                 and ham rolls with nasty pickles,             Bread made at home
undoubtedly worse for you. Apart              where there is little hint of baking          Home is the bakery where handmade
from the dubious additives and fats it        activity save for the oven­warming of         bread does not cost more. At home,
contains, the short fermentation makes        sausage rolls, bacon­and­cheese slices        you can produce a large loaf, made
the wheat harder to digest. Indeed,           and ‘Cornish’ pasties. The ‘bakeries’         with organic flour, for less than half the
some believe the Chorleywood                  whose bread looks the same as                 price of a similar­sized, mass­
processing method is partly to blame          everyone else’s… Well, nearly                 produced, non­organic loaf from a
for a sharp increase in gluten                everyone else’s.                              local shop. And your homemade bread
intolerance and allergy. It is also                                                         can be great bread – even if it does not
probable that the prolific                    Bread from real bakeries                      go to plan the first time.
crossbreeding and modification of             Real bakeries are special places, where       I still have that first bread recipe I
modern­day wheat, to produce                  bread is made in small batches by real        attempted – both pages of it. And now,
stronger, tougher, harder­to­digest           people’s hands and baked on site. You         years later, I realise why my first loaf
gluten, has contributed to wheat              can tell when bread is made by hand.          was such a disaster. The basic method
intolerance.                                  For a start, it will look different from      is fine, but to make good bread you
                                              other bread in other shops, because           need to understand the process. Some
Somewhere in the region of 98 per             every baker has his own, recognisable         professional bakers and cookery
cent of bread baked in this country is        style. Shop at one regularly and you          writers skirt this all too briefly. As I
mass­produced, and most of it comes           may spot changes in the bread from            discovered, being told ‘what to do’ is
from around a dozen huge plant                one morning to the next. You may even         simply not enough. There is so much to
bakeries. Supermarkets love to crow           be able to tell if the baker was in a bad     know, and I really believe that the
about their in­store bakeries, but they       mood, so sensitive is real bread to the       more you know, the better your bread
are really nothing more than mini             hands that make it. Some real bakeries        will be.
versions of these plants. 98 per cent is      sell their bread to local stores, which is
a lot. That means hands­have­not              excellent – the more places selling real
bread is just not the preserve of the         bread, the better. Real bakeries are a                       This is an edited extract
supermarkets; it is the same bread you        rarity, though. If you are lucky enough                      from River Cottage
                                                                                                           Handbook: Bread by Daniel
buy in most local ‘bakeries’. I’m talking     to have one near you, then you would                         Stevens, published by
about the ones that sell white tin            be mad not to use it. The bread will                         Bloomsbury Publishing and
loaves with flat tops, apple turnovers        cost more… so it should.                                     priced at £14.99.


  Bread is the staff of life, the saying      chapatti, sourdough, tortilla, ciabatta,     baker – just a talented young chef
  goes. And in that sense it is               brioche, bloomer… it’s a litany of           long on the two qualities I look for in
  fundamental to our subsistence. But         goodness. Wherever you are in the            new      recruits:      curiosity   and
  it is also fundamental to our pleasure      world, is there a better way of making       enthusiasm. But he soon decided to
  – because good bread is the founding        yourself feel at home than breaking          direct much of his energy and skill
  food of civilisation. So much greater       bread with                                   towards the blending of flour and
  than the sum of its humble parts, it        the locals?                                  yeast, in all its splendid forms. And as
  defies all logic: it is the two­plus­two­                                                I watched him do so, I found myself
  equals­five of culinary evolution.          But there’s no doubt that for most of        revising my own rather hands­off
                                              us good bread still seems much easier        approach to baking. His rapid and
  Bread is also like humanity itself. We      to enjoy than to make. And I must            impressive progress was both
  come in many different shapes and           admit that for many years bread              engaging and infectious.
  sizes, colours and guises, yet              making was, for me, something of a
  underneath the skin/crust, we’re all        culinary blind spot. I largely took the      I saw that a form of cooking I had
  made of the same stuff. And the trick       view that the making of bread, like the      previously felt to be something of a
  of achieving happiness and harmony          making of wine, was something best           dark art, was ready to reveal itself to
  is surely to celebrate and enjoy both       left to the experts. I felt I could enjoy    the energy of the open­minded, risk­
  our similarities and differences, with      it all the more for not knowing too          taking enthusiast as any other. I
  equal vigour.                               much about its underlying mysteries.         began to follow Dan’s progress,
                                              And then I met Dan!                          picking up a few hints and tips even
  You only have to start reciting the                                                      as they solidified in his own mind.
  names of the finest breads of the           When he first came to work with me           And I found myself becoming a better
  world to begin this process of              in the River Cottage kitchen, Dan            baker.
  celebration: cobbler, baguette,             wasn’t a particularly experienced                         Hugh Fearnley‐Whittingstall


20 x R&A GODALMING & VILLAGES                                                                                            January 2011
Baking                                      The Lighthouse Bakery School                River Cottage
                                            Ockham, Dagg Lane, Ewhurst Green,           Axminster, Devon
                                            Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5RD

courses                                     The Lighthouse Bakery School provides
                                            11 different courses, from the
                                                                                        On this one day course, a team of River
                                                                                        Cottage chefs will explain the ins and
                                                                                        outs of baking, aiming to inspire you to
                                            Introduction to Baking course, through      abandon ready‐sliced loaves for a world
                                            to an Advanced Baking course, taking in     of delicious breads baked at home. The
The Agaphile                                French Baking, Italian Baking, European     day is hands on, and is built around the
Waverley Hall, Headley Road,                Baking, Jewish Baking, amongst others,      River Cottage Bread Handbook basic
Grayshott, Hindhead GU26 6EJ                along the way. Courses are held twice a     bread method . The course will show
                                            week, and are very hands‐on. Class          you how this can be adapted with
Sarah Rowlands’ most popular lessons        sizes (maximum seven) ensure that           infinite variations, to give you complete
are the beginners' breadmaking which        individual attention is given to each       confidence to become master of your
are practical hands on classes held with    student. The Lighthouse Bakery School       own bakery. Included in the price of the
two to four people. The aim is to get       is situated amidst the beautiful High       ticket is lunch and a copy of the River
people started at successful basic bread    Weald countryside in East Sussex,           Cottage Bread handbook. Bread tutors
making and, as their confidence builds,      overlooking Bodiam Castle.                  may include Bread Handbook author,
they can move into using a wider range                                                  Daniel Stevens.
of flours and recipes.                       www.lighthousebakery.co.uk
                                            Tel: 01580 831 271                          www.rivercottage.net
www.agaphile.co.uk                                                                      Tel: 01297 630302
Tel: 01428 606073                           Love Loaves
                                            Wolvercote, Oxford                          The Soil Association Organic Farm
Bake with Maria                                                                         School
North London                                Learn to Bake ‐ and sell ‐ bread you can    Various locations
                                            believe in! Love Loaves is a home
If you've always wanted to learn how to     bakery run by Dragan and Penny in           The Soil Association's Organic Farm
make your own tasty and healthy bread       Oxford. We hold fun and friendly            School programme hosts a range of
from scratch, then this is the class for    workshops in our home, 'the smallest        bread‐making and baking courses
you. During a four hour session, we will    bakery in the world', on Mondays,           throughout the country, based on
go through the scaling, mixing and          Wednesdays and Fridays, teaching            organic farms. Learn the art of bread‐
kneading of different kinds of breads.       classic yeasted breads, sourdoughs and      making from artisan bakers ‐ from
These could be: Potato and Fennel,          the magical Croatian method of baking       beginners courses that enable you to
Wholemeal and Rye bread as well as a        'under the bell' on an open fire. Our        get to grips with different doughs to
delicious cake. Alternatively, we can       Mini Bakery Blueprint Workshop offers        create a variety of breads, sourdoughs
tailor the breads to your interests. This   comprehensive practical insight and         and gluten‐free baking, to building your
is a hands‐on session, so be prepared to    information for anyone wanting to run       own bread oven! Up to 25% discount
roll up your sleeves.                       a bakery business from their own home.      for Soil Association members.

www.bakewithmaria.com                       www.loveloaves.biz                          http://alturl.com/2qebv
Tel: 07725952724                            Tel: 07886 280 800 (Dragan)                 email: rcurtis@soilassociation.org

Cinnamon Square                             Mayfield Farm Bakery                         Wild Yeast Bakery
9 Church Street, Rickmansworth,             Sheering Road, Old Harlow, Essex CM17       The Grange, Dean Road, Newnham on
Hertfordshire WD3 1BX                       0JP                                         Severn, GL14 1HJ

Cinnamon Square hosts a range of            An introduction to bread making using       Offers a one‐day course, designed for
bakery courses, two of which focus on       organic flour from local mill Marriages.     beginners or those with some
bread making. The introduction to           You’ll learn the techniques of mixing       experience who want to improve and
bread course covers making bread by         and kneading to make your dough, then       learn about natural leavens and long
hand and includes yeast‐free bread. It      proving, folding and shaping into           fermentation processes. Participants
also involves the science of baking to      traditional cottage loaves, cobs,           learn about traditional breadmaking
help the guests achieve a thorough          bloomers or plaits. Finally, learn how to   techniques, including how to use yeast
understanding of the bread making           give your bread a professional finish. All   with the overnight biga process, and
process. They also run a second course      ingredients, and lunch are included in      how to cultivate wild yeast or
on Italian breads. The courses run every    the price. Plus take home the bread you     sourdough cultures, to make a variety
6‐8 weeks throughout the year. Each         have made, the recipes and one or two       of breads. The course is run by Simon
session lasts approximately 5 hours and     other loaves as well. Max eight people      Michaels, who ran the bakery for three
includes food and drink.                    per course. 10:30 – 2:30 (approx)           years.

www.cinnamonsquare.com                      www.mayfieldfarmbakery.co.uk/events          www.wildyeastbakery.co.uk
Tel: 01923 778353                           Tel: 01279 411774                           Tel: 0845 4580 060



www.roundandaboutssh.co.uk                                                                 GODALMING & VILLAGES R&A          x 21

				
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