Monday and Tuesday this week have been filled with two small bursts of pleasure. On Monday I decided that it was time to get back to basics and make some bread. I have a bread machine, my striving for a more traditional way of life is not without its need for speed and convenience. And, come on, even when using a machine you are still making the bread yourself, no additives and no 'what's in this' concerns.
But this Monday I decided to go back even further and do the whole thing by hand. While I was kneading away at the dough and staring out at the lashing rain (we had some sun last week, what's the complaining!) I was taken, not only by how sore my arms were, but that in the not-so-long ago people got up near enough every day and made bread, just like this!
I have to admit to a certain pleasure in looking out at rain, particularly when there are people in it, knowing that I am nice and warm inside. And that day I had the added feeling that while others worried about buses, trains and deadlines I was just kneading and staring, there was no hurry in this it would be done when it was done, I couldn't hurry it even if I wanted to. This had its own deadline and I was just along for the ride.
My attempts at hand made bread have been hit or miss in the past and I was quite nervous about the rising stage, that's when I murder a bread loaf! I have rising issues! So for the hour and a half I left it to rise I couldn't help but keep peeking over at the bowl with its damp cloth hat. Finally, the feeling of relief, and a little pride, that came upon me when I saw that the cloth was forming a little mound in the centre! Huzzah!
Then the slightly nerve racking but fun procedure of punching out the air, after all my success in the rising I have to destroy it. Hour and a half up, 5 seconds down. I made two loaves, a standard loaf and a fancy plait thing which I brushed with herby butter before cooking. After the punching and forming another hour was required while they rose again under their cloth. This time it was harder to see the rising - was it that high before?
I had no need to worry it was perfectly risen and ready for the oven. After cooking the house smelled great and we had fresh bread for snaking and dinner!
The full procedure from cupboard to bread board took about 3 hours, if I had been wanting this for breakfast I'd have been up at 5am! 4am if Farm Guy had wanted some for his breakfast! I couldn't do it, not every day! Hats off to the people of the past.
My desire for the perfect homemade snack was not over however. A call to farm guy to buy double cream on his way home was sent forth and duly he returned that evening with it. One carton was placed on the kitchen side and to bed we went...
Next morning our room temperature cream was placed into a jar and the shaking began. I had feared a morning of jar shaking, rolling, flinging with no result but in only a few minutes the butter was there, floating in a little sea of buttermilk. After some rinsing and patting we had butter! The whole process was so fast, I knew the theory but apart from an experiment in Primary 2 (about 6 years old) I had never tried it myself. I didn't bother to salt it just left it as it was, yellow and yummy! I know have a reason to use the beautiful butter dish my mum gave me, no butter so far has quite been good enough for it, but this shall take pride of place!
I had asked Farm Guy to remember the price, which was 60p, for the tub of cream and we managed 74g of butter, nope no saving there! But we don't use butter often, I use marg-y stuff for cooking so this butter would do us for toast and sandwiches, times when we can enjoy the butter for itself. It came out at snack time with the loaf of bread. There is something quite satisfying and, as a mum, comforting in watching your little one eating, and thoroughly enjoying with fistful happiness, something which you have not only made yourself but you know what is in practically everything she is eating. Now, if I could just get cream from a cow then it would be 100% known ingredients. Here.. mooey mooey mooooo.....!