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Monday, 18 August 2014

Man cannot live on bread alone (but my husband's having a bloody good try)

I do like a project. 

wheat sheaf loaf
On the way back from Devon, I decided a project was what was needed to prevent any end of holiday blues kicking in. Something other family members could join in with (if they wanted to).

Enter the daily bake. 

This was part inspired by my friend giving me a copy of Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads, the fact that GBBO has returned to our screens, and also our general love of eating bread. I thought it would be fun to sample a different bread each day (or as many as possible) for the rest of the holidays.

So we started with the first bread in the book - the wheat sheaf loaf. Paul reckons once you've made this (and mastered it) you are ready to attempt any of the breads in the book. 

The girls certainly enjoyed plaiting the dough as per the instructions (even if our sheaf ended up being very well tied with three plaits instead of one). One small, but significant point was lost on me - and that is this is meant to be a display bread, and so contains a heck of a lot of salt. How my husband chortled when, with mouths full of extremely salty bread, we referred back to the recipe and realised the error of my way. Still, was fun to make, and looked nice (even if only a third got eaten).

wholemeal soda bread
Next up was wholemeal soda bread. Nice and easy to make, as it doesn't contain yeast and doesn't require kneading. From this loaf, I learnt the importance of making your cross cuts deep so the bread cooks through to the middle. Uncooked dough isn't all that appetising, who knew.

"Sophie" bread
The following day saw the basic white loaf. This has been voted as the best bread of the week by our children. As it was the biggest girl's birthday, I tried to honour her with her name in bread. If you're doing this at home, my advice is to do the letter shaping just before the bread goes into the oven. I did it before the final half hour rise, and the name is a bit obscured.

basic white loaf
Oh, and the other thing. Take the bread out of the tin as soon as it comes out of the oven. Don't lazily leave it in the tin to get a soggy bottom crust.

crumpets (Delia's Classic Cookery Course)
Now onto some negatives about St. Paul of the Bake Off's book.

First things first. The title. Sorry Paul, but apple pie (and all the other desserts included in this book) is not a type of bread. Either change the title to acknowledge this fact, or include some of the great breads that have been over looked by you (in your haste to cash in on your GBBO fame and dash out a recipe book). 

Crumpets and English Muffins are two obvious traditional yeast based snacks that have been forgotten by Paul. So are bagels. How can you have a book about bread and not have instructions on how to make this hugely popular food?

My next criticism of the book is the section on traditional breads. I decided to try the paratha. The instructions were vague, and with no pictures to go by, it was hard to tell if I was on the right lines or not. At this point, the cynic in me started to wonder whether the author had even tested out/ developed all the recipes. 

My friend Sang came round the following day, and after casting her eye over the chapter, told me I'd be better off consulting with her mum if wanted to know how to make some authentic Indian breads.

Guinness and treacle bread
Things picked up with the next loaf. The Guinness and treacle bread smelt fantastic as it was cooking, and it is truly a `hearty loaf'. It makes great toast the following day, too.

brie and basil loaf
I had another friend visiting on Saturday, and so went all out and made two things. The brie and basil loaf was good. Although, I couldn't really detect that much flavour of basil. Maybe more was needed. We ate this warm as part of lunch, and the melted brie was lovely. By happy accident, the way the brie was spaced meant only every other slice had the brie in it, and this worked out nicely for those who didn't want cheese in their bread (weird, I know).

sultana scones
I don't for a moment think scones are a kind of bread, but they are included in the book, and well... who doesn't like a good scone, eh? This is probably the best recipe for scones I have come across. Even throwing the ingredients together as I did (in a rush and with little people tugging at my ankles), they were pretty darn good. Maybe it is the strong bread flour. Who knows. Credit where it is due - this seems to be a fool proof recipe.

We scoffed our scones with clotted cream and home made strawberry jam which my friend bought round. Oh my goodness. Such a contrast to the burnt strawberry syrup I made earlier in the season. When made by someone who knows how to make it, home made strawberry jam quite literally tastes like summer in a jar. Don't tell anyone, but when friends had left, and the girls were tucked up in bed, I kept dipping my finger in the jar each time I went into the kitchen over the course of the evening. 

cheese and onion soda bread
Not to be disheartened by the doughy soda bread, I decided to try out the cheese and onion version. Yum, yum, yum. And, extra smug points, as I got to use a home grown onion. 

focaccia pugliese with mozzarella
I've already given away which bread was the unanimous favourite for the girls. But, as they have yet to sample the latest bread, this might change. We love it. Totally unnecessary consumption of bread, as we ate it fresh out of the oven after the girls were in bed (and we'd already eaten a family meal). But so good dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

There are quite a few more Paul Hollywood bread recipes I am looking forward to trying, along with several from other well known chefs. If this project isn't a motivation to keep running, I don't know what is.


  1. They all look delicious Janet. Lucky family treats x

    1. Thanks, Caroline. Some have been better than others... But I think the average is a thumbs up. 😊

  2. Mmmmm they all look yum! And a great idea to keep little minds busy ;) I get what you mean about Paul Hollywood's recipes. I bought 'How to Bake' a couple of years ago and most of the recipes were like 'Whahhhht do you mean!' Got a couple of good ones but the book is now waiting to be traded in at Amazon...

    1. Ha ha, yes. He has a long way to go before he reaches Delia's fool proof recipe every time status. 😊