Today I got my nails done and watched Mad Men DVDs and baked bread. Just call me Little Susie Homemaker! I do love Mad Men and I do love Christina Hendricks. Even though women's rights obviously left a whole lot to be desired back when the show is set, it sure is nice to see gorgeous, curvy women who aren't afraid of a carb or two. When I grow up I want to look like Joan...I've got red hair and a round behind so I guess I'm part of the way there.
So, to this week's Cookbook Challenge. I have NEVER baked bread, in fact the idea of making it terrified me before today. I think it stems from my inability to make scones very well and I didn't want to bugger up something that people have been successfully making on a daily basis for thousands of years. This recipe comes from Maggie Beer's book Maggie's Table and is brought to you by the delightful Cathie who writes Melbourne Epicure. I've been hanging on to this post in anticipation because Cathie is an excellent baker and I figured if she said it was easy then I could trust her judgement. Keep an eye on Cathie's blog if you live in Melbourne so that you can find out which markets she's selling her wares at, her herb and haloumi bread will change your life!
Before I even got started I had a mini meltdown in the stupormarket over this recipe. The ingredients listed baker's flour but there were only 10kg bags of it on the shelves! I was not going to buy that much to try this out but then I remembered reading a Jamie Oliver bread recipe once that listed Italian 00 flour and there was a 1kg bag of that. Now that I've done some research I can tell you that this kind of flour is usually used for making pasta or pizza dough but my bread tastes alright so I think it was OK this time around.
Also those little 7gm packets of yeast mean you are just short using one and have far too much left over when using two - a bit annoying but what can you do? This is a learning experience after all so hopefully my post will help some of you first time bakers. I can tell you that the time spent in front of the shelves umming and aahing over which flour to buy is long enough for your nail polish to dry.
The process is simple and even though it's long it is so worth it just for the smell that wafts around the house. I have read about many people who find baking bread really therapeutic and I now totally understand where they are coming from; I don't think I've had such a sense of pride pulling something hot and gorgeous from the oven like I did today.
Thank you Cathie for the post and good luck bakers out there. I can't wait to make some toast in the morning.