I realised last weekend that I was failing my bread making project. Not failing in the making bread sense, I was still managing to do that, but failing in the being present, and paying attention sense. Bread making had evolved into this beast, this large black shape bearing down on me as the weekend approached. I was still trying to accomplish the task but I wasn’t allocating it anytime, or working out how to fit it into my day. Which is obviously how I found myself wrestling with a far too hydrated and possibly over proofed dough on a Sunday afternoon. Needless to say it did not end so well.
So I watched this video to get inspired again. I was really interested when Kim talked about the choice of bread making as a form of meditation. One of the reasons I chose bread making as part of a wider project I have going on (all about recovery and finding purpose outside of work), was because I thought working and creating with my hands would be a good thing. I haven’t reflected on that a lot in these posts yet but I think it is true. ‘Making stuff is really really important. Using your hands is really really important’, Kim says in the video.
She also tells her audience to ‘slow the fuck down’, which I enjoyed. I live quite a lot of my life rushing from one task to another, or trying to clean the house and listen to a book and bake bread and make dinner all at once. It is sometimes exhausting. So this weekend I slowed it all down again. There were many things I probably should’ve done this weekend but I let most of them go. I went to yoga, because I’ve found yoga on the weekend is a game changer (and it is also the one consistent class I can make, as I travel so much during the week). I finished some knitting projects I had going on. I finished the work I had to do for Monday. And then I focused on making bread.
Everything about it was so much better. I was making one of the loaves as a gift for A-‘s family in Spain (yes, we are people who travel with bread) and I wanted it to be good. So I took my time about it. I wasn’t rushing. I didn’t organise anything on Saturday afternoon so I could be at home to do the bulk prove. I sorted the levain out before I went to yoga in the morning and came back in time to mix up the dough. Everything about the experience was so much more pleasurable than it has been the past few weeks. And the breads turned out lovely. I had some to dip into bolognese I heated up for my solo dinner on Sunday. A- took a loaf to Spain and I brought half a loaf for my sister, and froze the other half for emergency bread rations.
Well, it is now mid November and Christmas (yes, I said it) is a few weeks away. But you know, still enough weeks away that I find the adverts on television mildly nauseating and the shop windows irritating rather than exciting. Come stir-up Sunday, I will be all for it but until then, can’t I just have a few non-themed weeks this year? Anyway, here is this week’s reading list!
Some words on how to understand and adopt the myriad of food advice we are given.
A list of Paris’s best chocolates. Like you needed any more persuasion on a trip to Paris. Personally, I think if you are going to Jacques Genin you should really try his caramels, which might change your life.
This weekend I have been listening to (and absolutely loving) The Muse. I’m not quite done so no spoilers please. I love the time periods, I love the characters, I love the mystery. Read this if you need to be transported to another time. I can practically feel the Andalucian sun on my skin when the book heads to 1935/6 Sierra Nevada countryside.
This week I made a spelt and honey loaf. I have been mulling over this combination for days and days, weeks possibly, since seeing some photos on instagram. The combination just sounded delicious.
This particular loaf (from a recipe I found online) did not use the turning and folding method of my previous loaves. Rather, you are supposed to mix everything together, knead it and then leave it to prove for 9 hours. I gave mine an hour for autolayse before adding in the salt, but then the dough did feel as though it did not need turning and folding so I kneaded it and put it back into the bowl. It was of significantly less hydration that previous loaves.
Of course I then totally forgot about the dough on the boiler and went out. When I returned home it was too late to bake bread so I put the dough in the fridge (in a proving basket) and hoped for the best! As you can probably tell by the photograph it may have been on the edge of over-proving by the time I turned it out in the morning to bake. It might have been wise to knock it back and let it prove again at this stage but I did not have the foresight to do that. Into the oven it went.
The loaf turned out totally delicious. It may not have as wide a crumb as it could have, but it has made excellent toast all week and I love the flavour.
Verdict for week 10? I am really starting to love this process. And I am working out my own ratios now so I feel superbly accomplished.