Today I had a lazy Saturday morning and watched Saturday Kitchen Live (for those of you who aren’t from the UK, this is a cookery programme aired on BBC 1, every Saturday morning, for as long as I can remember).
It’s a classic – there’s an infamous omelette challenge, a few celebrities and usually a presenter in Italy, Greece, Spain and the like, exploring the countryside, food, language and culture. This is my favourite part as I immediately get whisked back to childhood memories of family holidays, exploring old Italian monasteries, Greek mountains or ancient sites and Spanish beaches. I can smell the garlic and herbs, taste the delicious meats and fish, hear the cicadas and feel the heat on my skin. My two older brothers would nearly always find something mischievous to do, I would usually attempt to join in (being the annoying little sis that always wanted to be a part of the fun), get injured, run into Mom’s arms, get scolded by Dad, and it would all begin again. Oh how I miss being young and naiive… although this circle of play with my brothers still remains pretty much the same!
So all this flashed before my eyes whilst watching a television programme. Apart from the fond memories, it really really inspired me to bake something rustic, classic and full of herbs.
Next on the schedule was Paul Hollywood’s Bread, and that was it, my mind was made up. I was to spend my entire afternoon, rolling my sleeves up, throwing the windows opening, welcoming the smell of warm, fresh bread in the oven. Of course, this is my favourite thing to do, I was in my own little heaven. I literally spent 5 hours doing this until I realised I hadn’t started cooking dinner: Fish Pie this evening!
I decided on a Traditional Farmhouse Loaf and a Fougasse. I love baking bread, although time consuming and hard work on one’s triceps and biceps, it’s so rewarding watching your creation mold, grow and transform into something so tasty and good (it’s also a pretty good workout so you can feel extra good whilst baking!)
I even had a good 5 minute daydream, thinking how magical it would be to wake up early every morning, just to get a fresh loaf in the oven ready for my imaginary family’s breakfast (children and husband waking on a sunny morning, whiffing the amazing smell of fresh bread, me looking surprisingly fresh and awake in the kitchen, all having a yummy, lazy breakfast together – clearly no school or job to go to – realistic hey?!).
All this from Paul Hollywood’s gentle Scouse lilt and beautiful face – call me gullible but these TV programmes definitely work – I went and did exactly what they told me to do!
Traditional Farmhouse Loaf
450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
300ml hand-hot water
- Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar, salt, and yeast. Make a well in the centre, pour the water in all at once and mix well to combine the ingredients
- Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes (until it is silky smooth)
- Place the dough in a large sandwich bag that has been lightly oiled. Seal, allowing plenty of room for the dough to expand and prove in a warm place, for about an hour (until doubled in size)
- Grease your loaf tin and lightly dust with flour
- Knock back the dough (to get rid of any air) for around 2-3 minutes. Shape into an oblong and lay it in the prepared tin. Cover and leave to prove again, until doubled in size (around 45 minutes)
- Preheat the oven to 230 degrees and using a sharp knife, cut down the centre of the loaf and liberally dust with flour
- Bake for around 30 minutes (until it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom)
After a delicious slice of warm bread, with a generous slather of butter, we had a lovely evening walk in our field. A family of Canadian Geese have taken home on the lake; watching the little Goslings grow is simply adorable!