Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bread and bower birds

A few weeks I bought a sack of bread flour with the intention of starting to make my own bread.

Well, it’s taken a while, but here is my first loaf (there is another in the oven). The first loaf is crusty, fluffy and delicious, especially warm out of the oven with a dab of butter. And is there anything nicer than the smell of bread baking? I don’t think so.

I have to admit the process was aided by my bench mixer with a dough hook. I hummed and haahed for a long time about whether I should invest in a mixer and finally took the plunge when I found a mixer that had been substantially reduced. In only a few months, this bit of kit has proved it’s worth time and again, and making bread dough is a case in point. I simply put the ingredients in the bowl, fit and dough hook and let it rip for 15 minutes, while I get on with things like feeding the chooks, and cleaning up the kitchen. Knocking back and proving takes a bare 5 minutes, and then it is in the oven. The only demand on me is to be in the right place at the right time to take the dough through its stages.

The recipe I followed is one for a basic loaf from David Herbert’s “Complete Perfect Recipes”:


2 tsp yeast
11/2 cup tepid water
4 cups flour (I used 3 cups plain and 1 cup wholemeal plain)
1 tbls olive oil
½ tsp salt

Put the yeast into ½ cup tepid water and let it froth over ten minutes or so.

Put the flour and salt into a bowl, and add the yeast mixture, the rest of the water and olive oil. Mix until it makes a dough (you may need to add more water), then knead by hand or machine for 15 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it prove in a warm spot for 1 -1 ½ hours. Punch the dough down, knead briefly and then place in a two bread tins (or one large tin, or just place the loaf of dough on an oil baking tray). Bake in 200 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when knocked with your knuckle.

The other photo is of our friendly neighbourhood bower bird, after being removed from our fig tree, which is netted. How he got in the net, I don’t know.

This bower bird has been hanging around for a few years now. His bower is under some diosma just outside our bedroom window. And yes, it is decorated with bits of blue plastic to attract the females. I wonder what bower birds did their decorating with before the invention of blue plastic?


Linda said...

How amazing. I am glad you told me that because it is hard to imagine. It is good to get confirmation of it.

You have nearly convinced me to have a go at the bread.

Paola said...

Do have a go at bread, Linda. It's one of life's simple pleasures...