What is it about bread? It's so alluring, appetising, aromatic. And it's so photogenic.
This is not a recipe blog simply because there are far too recipes out there -thousands of new cook-books every year and an uncountable number on the net. If I want fresh inspiration (or want to keep up with emerging trends) I will trawl through newly published books. If it's a classic or regional dish, perhaps something I've read about in a novel or seen on a program such as Italy Unpacked or Rick Stein - Mediterranean, I go to the net.
On the net of course you’ll find everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Lately, for example, I've enjoyed “researching” the following…
Sunshine Salad - Retro Sunshine Salad –read in a novel set in the American mid-west. As my life is lived in a totally retro midcentury modern house, I enjoyed the retro recipe. Note, I enjoyed reading about it, rather than making it. Perhaps one day.
Sugee Cake – Sugee Cake – The recipe wherein, to begin, semolina is soaked over-night in melted butter. (I simplified it by using almond meal rather than chopping my own.) This was from an “airplane” novel (you know the sort, thick, hot pink cover, raised gold lettering) – Crazy, Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Not only is it fabulous - the book and the cake - (OK, it’s not Pride & Prejudice) but it introduced me to some great food, three forms of architecture and two ceramic traditions I knew nothing about.
Timpano (or Timballo) as seen in the film Big Night and described beautifully in the novel The Leopard by Lampedussa. (A recipe I’ll give attention to in the new year.)
“The burnished gold of the crusts, the fragrance of sugar and cinnamon they exuded, were but preludes to the delights released from the interior when the knife broke the crust; first came a smoke laden with aromas, then chicken-livers, hard-boiled eggs, sliced ham, chicken, and truffles in masses of piping-hot, glistening macaroni, to which the meat-juice gave an exquisite hue of suède.”
But I digress. Now to the bread.
Fancy making a loaf without getting your hands sticky, without kneading, just a bit of hanging around? This method, with a 24 hour rising time, was "invented" by Jim Lahey, a NY baker . It was a huge hit and was taken over by scores of bloggers, subtly hinting they may have been the instigator. "Jenny" is such a one and is actually worth watching - no-knead-bread - as she's a bit of a hoot, but below is my adaption, even easier (after you've got the idea from Jenny or Jim).
Important - you need a heavy cast iron casserole (or Dutch oven) such as Le Creuset or Staub.
400gm plain flour (any sort - play around)
generous 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 2/3 mls (1 2/3 cups) hot water (not boiling)
Have ready two similar sized bowls, a tiny bowl and some parchment-type baking paper.
There are more and more great, small artisan bakeries around so why bake some bread? No other reason than you can and it's fun!
We could make cheese next time. Why? Because we can and it's fun.