Baking bread for the Old Vicarage B&B, Edgton

We all started making bread last year! When the local supermarket had sourced more flour to replenish the shelves which were emptied at the start of the first lockdown, I set to. The challenge in mind was to make good bread for toast, the staple of a holiday breakfast.

I used to make bread regularly when we lived on the farm and enjoy the rhythm of the process, the simple ingredients, how unlikely it seems that a smooth dough can come from such a rough start, working to produce that dough and then letting the yeast do its thing. On chill days it’s a process that can take all day and it can’t be rushed. Knocking out the air after the first rise and shaping loaves to wait for the final proving, a hot oven and the perfect smell of baking bread. When they come out of the oven the cracking sound of cooked loaves cooling, crusts contracting and hissing is deeply satisfying.

The temptation of different recipes in colour supplements has meant experiments with marmite bread, roughly mixed and proved overnight, a very wet wholemeal dough which escaped the confines of the tin and toasted blobs to the bottom of the oven! Trying out cast iron cooking pots for baking which produces a good round loaf. An accidental purchase of a bag of rye flour and trial of the recipe on the back of the packet to make a tasty lunchtime bread for humous and salad.

But I might return to basic white loaves and half-in-half with a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and linseed seeds for toast which has substance and a good toasty crunch for each bite, warm with butter and home-made marmalade. What more could one want – I’m off to the toaster!