bread

What a week

Winter window

This week has been overwhelming. It is the first week of my maternity leave and I was looking forward to, no desperate for, a break. Instead my little girl got sick. Then she got sicker. Today is the first day neither of us has had some sort of medical appointment. Normally I love gloomy grey weather but it makes running errands with a sick toddler impossible. I was surprised how emotionally draining it can be having an unwell child. I wanted nothing more than to make her feel better but there was so little I could do. The pleading in her eyes when she tried to crawl into my lap but couldn’t fit due to my pregnant belly almost broke my heart.

The good news is she’s now on the mend. I’m slowly getting the house back in order but truth be told, at the moment there are more important things than a polished floor. I just want to nourish our bodies and be gentle to our spirits while everyone recuperates, physically and emotionally.

Grange

I should have known this week was going to be testing after a lovely dinner with my father and sister on Saturday night. My father is a wine collector and some of his collection was due to be enjoyed. Of course being pregnant I couldn’t indulge in the fine wines on offer (last time Dad opened some Grange I was pregnant with my toddler! The start of a week of Murphy’s Law!) so I had more than my fair share of pizza to make up for it. I like my Dad’s philosophy on wine- he buys it young and inexpensive and cellars it until it’s in it’s prime. The ultimate delayed gratification. Years ago, when the Government economic stimulus program saw my husband receive a stimulus payment we spent it on Australian wine. We figured it was keeping the money in the country and now we have some beautiful wine which has greatly increased in value. One of these days I might even get a chance to drink some!

Jasmine

Despite the wet weather my jasmine has decided it is well and truly spring. I love the way the vine climbs up outside my daughter’s window. When the weather is fine and the window open the sweet smell permeates the whole upper storey of the house. It seemed a shame to leave such beautiful blooms out in foul weather so I snipped a long tendril this morning and put it in our bedroom. The scent really does lift my spirits.

Bassinette

Last night the bassinette for our impending baby was delivered. As soon as it was unwrapped Willa put her doll inside, covered it with a scarf to act as a blanket, then pulled up her little chair and started reading her ‘baby’ a story. Cuteness overload. And very reassuring to see her role play a baby sibling in a loving way.

sesame seed bread

Terracotta bread tin

This week I received my new terracotta bread form. I seasoned the pan using vegetable oil earlier in the week and baked my second loaf in it today. I still use my breadmaker to do the hard work (kneading, rising etc) but the terracotta gives the bread such a lovely texture! The shape of the loaf is much nicer too (though as you can see in the picture above I was lax when forming the loaf and it’s rather lopsided- oops!).

Tea and knitting

Most of today I have spent on the lounge, drinking peppermint tea, and knitting. Turns out I actually buggered up the pattern so I’ll have to undo everything I did but it felt nice to get in the flow of knitting again, and so appropriate given the weather.  I also enjoyed the fruits of my labour, that is freshly baked bread slathered in butter. Delicious! Please excuse the crumbs on my belly!

Fresh bread

All in all I’m glad the week is over and a new one is on the way. I hope your week has treated you better and if not, you were able to focus on the simple pleasures like freshly baked bread and spring blooms.

Baking Bread

Almost all cultures have some form of bread as a staple in their diet. Unfortunately the mass produced versions have never sat well with my body, in fact I hardly ever eat bread at all. My husband, on the other hand, loves bread. He eats it daily and as a result I saw an opportunity to improve the health of both my husband and our bank balance. Homemade bread is free of preservatives and excess salt. It is cheaper, especially if you purchase your flour in bulk and use your energy efficiently (i.e. use the oven heat to bake more than just one loaf or dish) . You can customise it to your particular tastes and needs by altering the loaf shape, flour (refined or wholemeal), or adding seeds, herbs, or spices. Many people are put off baking bread by the kneading and rising, it all seems very complicated. This recipe does away with the complicated steps. It’s called No-Knead Bread and the recipe was originally published in the New York Times. This is my go-to version and I usually make it after cleaning up after dinner.

Ingredients:

3 cups wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 cups of water

Method:

Place flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix with your hands to combine. I simply stir the mixture with one hand and it comes together in less than a minute.

Cover with cling wrap or a damp tea towel and leave overnight.

The next day your dough will have doubled in size and the surface will be bubbled.

Place a dutch oven (cast iron pot with lid) lined with baking paper in the oven. Preheat to it’s highest temperature (I just turn the dial as far as it will go).

Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead until the dough comes together in a ball (again, we’re talking less than one minute here). The top of the ball doesn’t need to be smooth, in fact this helps the loaf to expand and create a rustic finish.

Place the dough into the dutch oven and replace the lid.

Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool.

Enjoy!