What is it?: A quick-to-make crusty bread with some interesting additions
Occasion: A good all-rounder
There are few things in the world I love more than bread. In fact, giving up bread would be more difficult for me than giving up cigarettes (if you could see the assortment of chewed pens on my desk right now, you would understand the magnitude of this statement). I am also a fully fledged bread snob and not ashamed to admit it. One of the best things about my little corner of south-east London is that there are SO many excellent bakeries and you don’t have to travel for miles to pick up a good loaf. When my sourdough obsession first took hold some years ago, I would trek to a local deli every Saturday morning and pick up a loaf, and since then it has become one of my rituals. Even with so much good bread around me, I still relish the challenge of baking my own. Bread is probably the area of baking I find the most difficult, but also the most rewarding. So far on this challenge, I have only made one loaf of bread – the easy white loaf, so thought it was time to attempt another.
I have to admit, when I first saw the list of ingredients in the flash loaf, I was a bit apprehensive. FIVE teaspoons of yeast?! Grated raw potato?! It all sounded a bit weird to me, but when I saw that this combination allowed you to bake a loaf of bread in less than two hours, I conceded. After all, between work and Band of Bakers, I barely have time to see my friends, let alone nurse a sourdough starter. This bread is actually really easy to make – it requires hardly any kneading and no extensive resting. There is a bit more prep than usual, but if you can’t find time to grate a couple of potatoes, you shouldn’t really be in the kitchen at all.
To be honest, I worried from start to finish that this would not work, but it actually made one of the most impressive-looking loaves of bread I have ever made – risen, even and nicely browned. The inside was moist and slightly spongy and the crust stayed tough even after cooling and storing. I gave a slice to Ollie without telling him what the ingredients were and he said: “Is there some kind of vegetable in that?” I still cannot detect the taste of potato, but perhaps fifteen years of smoking have left me with less receptive taste buds. Even so, it is excellent, especially with a smear of XO Marmite.
In other news:
Still hibernating. Last night Ollie cooked moules marinere and I caught up on Peep Show. Rock’n’roll.