It's Spring, the sap is rising and I'm in love. With...
... come on I can hear you say, with who(m). (sorry I am a writer).
Well it's like this. An email arrived this morning warning me to be in to receive a delivery. Gave me a one hour window and the delivery man's name. So there I was ahead of the agreed time, pacing round the house, worrying I might miss the bell.
Didn't turn on the radio... in case it was too loud. Made sure I was downstairs so I wouldn't have to race to the door.
When the bell rang I was there in a flash. My specified man stood holding out my parcel, signing gubbins outstretched.in his other hand. Signed, thanked him then took the parcel to the kitchen and tore open the box.
There sat my proving baskets. What you're asking? Yes my proving baskets.
Because I'm in love with making bread with sourdough.
I've made bread on and off, mostly off, for the past thirty years. Started with Delia, safe and reliable. Then I moved house, got out of the habit and didn't start again in earnest till last year. For some months I turned out good wholesome loaves, accepted and enjoyed by family and friends. But I had a secret.
Searching for different recipes I kept coming across the word, 'sourdough'. Every time I looked into it, I felt I was reading about an arcane art. Almost occult in the way people described it. I considered, havered till...
I fell. Into such a desire to have a go I launched myself at the recipes till I found one that wasn't ten pages long.
It took a week. Seven days of watching, feeding and monitoring the mix for bubbles, smell and fermentation. Then I was ready. Made the overnight mix and as soon as I got up the following morning, checked it out in the spare bedroom.
Joy of joys. The sponge had risen. I raced through shower, breakfast and teeth cleaning till with everything in front of me on the unit I mixed the flour with the sponge. It took all morning to accomplish all the risings but the wait was worth it.
My first sourdough loaf achieved.
And now I understand the ecstacy of the Hairy Bikers on their Bakeation. The urgings of other breadmakers. Because there is something alchemical that happens with this sourdough. I'm getting to know mine. Only a few weeks old unlike some professional bakers whose starters go back years. It changes according to heat, feeding and loving. It survived me leaving it for a weekend away.
It's my new best friend. It's hard to describe the difference in working the mix when you use sourdough. but I feel it's alive and talking to me.
Since I started, I've made freeform loaves of all descriptions. A very successful Ciabatta last weekend, and Brioche so moreish I had to hide it away.
They call bread the staff of life. To me making bread is a way of showing my love for those closest to me.
But it's also a very selfish and wonderful pleasure.