I admit to doing the Atkins Diet for at least one year of my life, but I’m putting that experience in the box with things you do in college you wish you hadn’t. How can a person live without a freshly baked baguette or a hunk of a grainy, seedy loaf? I try not to eat bread at every meal, but it’s hard not to. Its versatility is astounding. In Malawi, we can only get white bread. Though it is freshly baked each day and incredibly “squidgy” (the only saving grace), it’s a close cousin to Wonderbread in taste, texture and appearance. Nonetheless, I eat it every morning. Shame on me!
I would love nothing more than to make my own bread on a Saturday morning. I’d toast it with fried eggs. I’d whip up a batch of rolls to accompany a hearty winter stew. Trouble is, I absolutely hate making dough. Any dough. It’s fussy and pernickety. I never quite know if the consistency is correct. It requires patience and time (not my strong suit) and too much elbow grease. The whole exercise is generally hit or miss—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. So despite my fantasy, a Saturday morning of dough-making would be my kitchen daymare.
I had pretty much written off bread-making altogether. But a few months ago when I was still living in England, I caught an episode of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s TV show, “River Cottage.” This guy lives on some enormous English country estate, straight out of a Victorian novel. He’s quirky. Sometimes he’s eating squirrel kebabs or making beer made from nettles, but this episode he simply demonstrated how to make bread and, of course, made it look easier than putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster. Again, I thought, not for me.
Before I had time to reach for the remote, he began reading the ingredients list off the side of a few store-bought loaves. He might as well have been a reading shampoo bottle. “But why?” he asked. “Why on earth should these ingredients be in bread?” Who could argue? Given the choice, who wouldn’t choose to eat bread made simply from flour, water, yeast and salt? But it’s hard to get off your duff and make the staff of life. Only posh English chaps with their own TV shows have time to do that….right? I’m not so sure. If we make time for what’s important, how important is it for me to eat bread, (essentially my favorite food) not made from 19 ghastly ingredients?
I resolve this year to conquer this kitchen fear. I may not be opening my own Boulangerie by the end of this experiment, but I am determined to get comfortable with dough and a few simple bread recipes.
What is your kitchen daymare? What do you fear most to cook?
I have never been able to get risotto right!
My friends, you must make this bread! There are only five ingredients, there is no rising time and it requires “minimal kneeding” – what’s not to love? Oh yea, and it tastes a-w-e-s-o-m-e! Do yourself a favor – make a nice wintery stew, a loaf of this bread and enjoy…then pass the recipe on!
My mother made homemade bread for our family of nine every Saturday morning. I was so comfortable being around the yeast and the flying flour that it has always been an easy thing for me to do. My mom always said you have to have a “feel” for it. It’s hard to find a recipe that doesn’t say, “continue adding more flour until the dough is the right consistency.” How are people supposed to know what’s the right consistency if they’ve never made bread?
Anyway, my kitchen daymare? A standing crown rib roast — I’m shaking as I type!!!!!
Linda J-H says
Hrutka! Slovak Easter Cheese. It just comes out looking like a big pan of scrambled eggs.
Dough doesn’t have to be THAT persnickety. Check out some no knead breads, specifically Jaden Hair’s adorable son making some: http://steamykitchen.com/168-no-knead-bread-revisited.html
Pie crusts! I just cannot get them to look good at all, but I’m finally managing to get them to fit into the pan and taste good so that’s something.
And yeah, I agree with the standing rib roast above; that scares me because of the cost – I’m terrified of wasting that much $$ if it doesn’t turn out well.
Gravy! Oh how I’ve tried and just given up. The other night my husband asked me why I never serve gravy with my mashed potatoes. Because I don’t make gravy! It makes a huge mess and it’s too salty or too lumpy or too bland, too thin or too grainy. ACK! I remember the time I tried to make red eye gravy, I am a southerner after all. I also love how “red eye gravy and ham with biscuits” sounds – but it was so terrible. It’s something I just can’t grasp. My pastor’s wife even tried to show me how once. It was so easy for her and I think she thought I was off my rocker because I couldn’t make it.
Melanie, I was the same for so long! I just made gravy from granules, which never tasted as good as the real deal. But then my husband’s grandmother taught me how. Her formula is just a combination of pan drippings from the meat, a little water from the vegetables you’re cookin’ and some corn starch (dissolved in water). You can add a secret ingredient like wine or in my nanny’s case some Marmite to jazz it up. But I will do a post on gravy-makin’.
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
Frying! My technique has improved, but it still scares me – a big pot of hot oil, some batches coming out pale, others too dark… (Shiver)