the Life around the Loaf

Everyday bread can be Extraordinary. I am a baker and good-bread-seeker with a particular interest in Sourdoughs (see first post for explaination) but also a general interest in Life and Happiness and the role bread can play in it.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Dough! Given in to the Breadmaker

I've gone and acquired a Breadmaker. It comes from a pub kitchen where it's not needed any more and has sat here for a week, receiving suspicious glances from me every so often and being used to store mobile phone cables. My housemate Tim was just writing 'Bread' on his shopping list this morning and I stopped him, saying that we probably had the ingredients somewhere and we should give the machine a try. Actually, we didn't have the ingredients and I had to slip to the shop to get sunflower oil and skimmed milk powder: -'basic' recipe? I thought a basic recipe had about 3 ingredients, not 7. I s'pose it's still far better than most sliced white loaves. The machine gets up to speed, making a "nom, nom" noise like it's eating the dough. It comes to a stop for the first proof and I try the dough, which is as sickly-sweet as one might expect from all the sugar and SMP in the recipe. Chris Young of SustainWeb is running National Real Bread Maker Week, May 1st -9th if you have a breadmaker and want to make more wholesome bread - here is the group page, I hope more information will be posted on it soon.
I love the taste of dough, anyway. I love pinching a bit off the bulk of the mixture and feeling its weight, its spring, the warmth or stickiness, the raw potential of the stuff. I love it when the yeast is just getting going, producing a whiff of spice on top of the mellow, baby-like smell of the flour in the dough.
My nearly-new niece and nephew smell like dough, "in a good way", I can imagine myself pleadingly saying to my two sisters as they look at me in alarm at this 'compliment'. I'd better be careful of saying things like "Ooo! Couldn't you just eat them?" Just to make it clear, eating babies isn't my thing. Which makes it less embarrassing than usual to say that eating uncooked dough, however, totally is. I would like to point out that this habit is endorsed by none other than Albert Roux, see The Roux Brothers on Patisserie, 1991. It takes me back to being small enough to have to stand on a chair to reach the kitchen table, when we would be given bits of dough to shape by Mummy B., which we would would roll and re-roll, shaping ambitious figures who would morph inexplicably in the oven. I found the dough irresistible, perhaps it wouldn't even make it to the oven. You eat a little bit, and then another little bit, and in your warm tummy it keeps on rising and you can burp (when you are small - not now, of course) the most wonderful beery burps that tickle your nose. Not quite to the standard of an invention by Willy Wonker, but it kept me happy when I was little.
The machine beeps reprovingly at me. I feel bereft, sitting next to it while it has all the fun with the dough. It's so mechanical, so enclosed! Worried that it will sense my jealousy and fear, I give it a friendly pat. It sighs out a breath of humid yeasty air. I am still deeply suspicious of it, as it suggests that all of the sensitivity you work to develop in making something with your hands might just be a kind of mystique-making that serves little purpose other than self-indulgence. On the positive side, I realise that while it's been doing all the 'hard' work, it has allowed me to sit, clean-fingered, and write this. I do miss the dough, though.

1 comment:

  1. It's okay, Pie thinks grown-ups are good enough to eat so we are just reciprocating.


Madeleine (Dilly) Boase