A staple component of diets the world over and something that I’ve been playing about making for the past few months.
As with most of my hobbies, practical limitations mean that I haven’t got many of the exotic and theoretically worrying alchemical components that go into commercially produced bread. It also means that things are kept simple for my poor little mind to cope with.
By that, I mean nothing more complicated than flour, water, yeast and token amounts of sugar, salt, oils and seeds that at least give me the illusion of control.
This means I get the fun of shopping for interesting ingredients, mainly flour, and can vary the composition to balance the weight and texture of the Crumb with longevity and perceived tastiness. I don’t think anybody would dispute that bread that came out of the oven 5 minutes ago is anything other than delicious, so my metric of success is how long the loaf lasts for and how much goes to waste when it’s declared dead.
I should state that because I’m fundamentally lazy, all of this is made possible because Mum gave me a breadmaker a while ago. Yes it means all my loaves are the same boring shape, but it does eliminate oven-related mistakes. It also consistently works.
The recipe that achieved ideal success (the bread was all eaten within 18 hours of it being baked) was:
– 400g Dove’s farm malthouse flour
– 100g strong white bread flour
– 300ml water @ 30ish °C
– 1 teaspoon sea salt
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
– 1 teaspoon granulated yeast
Use 100ml of boiling water to dissolve the sugar in, then make up to 300ml using the cold tap then activate the yeast in it for a few minutes (5 is normally enough to get a culture brewing in the middle of the jug). Then chuck the lot into the bread maker, press the button and come back when it goes beep. Easy.
I can’t stress enough how important having top quality ingredients is. The salt is salt and doesn’t have anti-caking varnish applied to it, the yeast doesn’t come in excessively packaged individual 7g satchets, the water is 2 part cold from the tap and 1 part boiling from the kettle and the flour should speak for itself.
Amazingly, Dove’s Farm manage to output sufficient volumes of product for the big supermarkets to stock it, which means it’s all easy to get hold of. Of course, that doesn’t stop me buying bags of locally ground flour from farmer’s markets I manage to get to.
Which gets me full circle back to my perception of quality.
What makes a Good Quality food ingredient?
For me, it needs to taste acceptable, be simple as possible, have travelled as little as possible and annoyed as few things as possible.
Of course that’s just what interests and inspires me, who said I had to actually do what I harp on about? 🙂 I suspect I’ll always keep getting a weekly loaf of Warburton’s Toasty ‘cos it’s about the best sliced bread there is.
Oh, and for those of you wondering what the title of the post is all about, it’s a quote I picked up from somewhere recently which made me imagine a story that would go with it.
Think about the industry and effort that’s required for all the stages of getting a loaf of bread into your house (we can assume you can walk to the shop you bought it from). It could be astonishing. It could be satisfyingly small.