Some more, please: Bread as our ancestors remember it

2011-02-17 12:40

It seems we’ve been eating bread for about 30 000 years and the Barbarians were adding beer to theirs long before the Romans colonised them.

The trouble with supermarket bread is that it’s chockfull of chemicals so it lasts longer, so they counter that by adding vitamins – creating some sort of Frankenstein of the foodstuff.

My granny used to walk around the supermarket grabbing the bread, giving it a good squeeze and declaring loudly: “This isn’t real bread.” As embarrassed as I was – she was right.

So, after testing a breadmaker for work some time ago, I decided to take the plunge and buy one?– the smallest I could find, which sits compactly on my counter.

Because if I have to haul it out of the cupboard every second day – I wouldn’t ever use it. At the back of my kitchen cupboards lie the corpses of once-used smoothie makers and waffle irons.

Within two loaves I was a true convert. First I made cheese and onion bread – a mistake. I fell for the more is more of consumerism. As soon as I started adding stuff, the crumb of the bread wasn’t as nice. So, I backtracked to basics.

Basic white – most delicious, a crisp crust and a soft crumb with an almost elastic quality reminiscent of the texture of the uncooked dough.

Not that I’d know, considering the wonders of the bread machine. I chuck the six ingredients into the machine in the exact quantities it calls for and, hey presto, bread three hours later.

The basic brown is also sublime, almost nicer than the white because of the added texture. The kicker is that the toddler loves the bread – as you know, everything in the kitchen is for the toddler.

Thin slices toasted until crisp with lashings of real butter and mature cheddar cheese has become a staple breakfast in our house. For those older than two, unfortunately it’s had a rather rounding effect – a bit like the proving dough rising in the machine.

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