11 Oct 2014

#40 | Slowing things down with wholemeal crusty bread

Life's been a bit of a whirlwind recently.

I've worked and worked and worked, and I'm three months into this new job and loving it but it's busy. It's new and exciting and makes me want to get up in the morning, but also keeps me up at night. On the weekends I become busy with the housework I neglige Monday to Friday, and the friends I don't have time to see.

This week was even madder than usual, what with London Cocktail Week requiring me to be all over town. On Friday evening, after a week that included a punch pong tournament, hugs with a lizard, concrete-percolated cognac, a rainforest, several burgers, a whole day of rum university and the bashing of a giant piñata in the rain, I came home exhausted and knocked myself out with a giant bowl of chilli.

This weekend is one for taking things slow, at last. So naturally, bread happened.

What I love and find relaxing about cooking and baking is that it's a precise science, but one of imagination. There's a million real chemistry rules about what works with what and how things react. Oil, eggs, heat, yeast, and the miracle of gluten. But it's also all about putting these things together in ways always new and seeing what happens.

This time I wanted stability, so I kept to a simple crusty bread. One for the science. Water, yeast, flour, salt, and that miracle of gluten I still don't understand (nor really manage to make happen – someone tell me how to get those air bubbles to join the party).

Bread gets things slowing down. Put your yeast to work. Wait. Make a rough dough. Wait. Knead, and knead, and knead. Wait. Pop in the oven. Wait and wait and wait.

I always feel like taking a step back come the colder months. The days get shorter and all I want is to cuddle up in bed, sip on hot chocolates, put Angus and Julia Stone on, light candles and get sewing. It brings with it a bittersweetness of things ending and ended. It's that feeling when you stare into your closet trying to find your favourite, warmest, thickest winter jumper and think about everything's that's changed since you last put it on.

In turn I encourage you to take things slow: put work, and friends, and life on pause. Find your jumper and light the candles. Breathe in, breathe out. And eat warm bread spread with blackberry jam.

Recipe found here.