Followers of this blog will know that I’ve been on a serious bread baking binge for months, and I’m amazed at the proceeds. I experimented with different flours, different add-ins and different amounts of yeast, and the sandwiches have been awesome. Bread with chestnut flour was particularly tasty (even the cat liked it), but some combination of wholewheat flour and steel-cut oats seems to be my favorite right now.
But let’s face it, making bread takes time, and there were Saturdays when I felt that all I did was wait for bread, which took a serious chunk out of the rest of my weekend life. The workflow goes something like this:
- measure out ingredients (a few minutes)
- wait for the yeast to start frothing (15 minutes, perhaps)
- mix and knead (another 15 minutes)
- wait for the mix to rise (2 hours, 3 hours, often longer)
- knock down, prepare for baking (a few minutes)
- wait for the loaves to rise (another couple of hours)
- heat oven, bake (an hour, almost)
- wait for the loaves to cool (longer than you think)
- slice and eat (no time at all)
The challenge was to tame that workflow so that my bread was a slave to me rather than the other way around. It took a bit of planning, but it’s worked surprisingly well – it was the method for the hugely successful black rice bread from a few weeks back, but it works for more than that. My thanks to a few recipe books, and to the Brit over at Alliums for his inspiration. The faults, such as they are, are mine.
The answer lies in forgetting everything your mother ever told you about yeast dough imploding at the merest hint of a chill. It’s heat that kills yeast, not cold, the experts say now. So rather than waiting around for my bread dough to double in size, I make my dough on a Friday night and throw it in the fridge overnight. Come Saturday, I take the vastly expanded dough out of the fridge, squidge it into loaf tins and then go off and run my morning errands while it warms up and then starts rising again.
By the time I’m back from the market, and maybe from a bike ride too, it’s ready to bake.
I am no longer a slave to my bread. It’s my bread that’s a slave to me.
Anyone want some (home-made) marmalade on (home-made) toast? And anyone got other tips to help me claim back my life?