Category Archives: cooking

Bread is Life: Easy Sourdough

I’ve got writers block and I am decidedly flat.

I can feel Spring is in the air and Summer is peeping around the corner. I know that I am very lucky and have great pillows, but it doesn’t stop me feeling flat as a pancake, or as flat as Norfolk or flatter than the Earth during the middle ages.

I created this blog because I had a ‘realisation’ and I needed to share it. I also felt strong enough to share because I was feeling well and on-point. The problem is, that when you’re not feeling so well, you might not feel ready to publish that. When you have depression your mind becomes this elastic creature that can go from normal to sad, or elated to despairing daily, hourly or even less. So it goes without saying, that this blog can’t have ‘fresh and engaging articles each week’ like other blogs. I might be feeling highly creative and articulate in April, but then completely Ryvita-style-dry and uninspired in June.

My guilt for not feeling ‘switched on’ all of the time comes from living in a world in which nobody is supposed to have an off-day, or an off-week or month. We need to be able to give presentations, visit Sainsbury’s, smile in pictures at weddings and be totally on-top-of-your-game at job interviews on any given day. We also need to answer the phone whenever it rings and this, I believe, is unrealistic for anybody.

When I’m feeling like this, I need to go back to basics. Which basically means running around in the woods (naked if possible) and I also need to make BREAD.

Making bread is one of the most natural things you can do (apart from having sex or picking your nose.) It’s been done since the dawn of human life. Well, since whenever they started milling flour. It feels honest and real and in the end you can eat it with a massive slab of cheese. Without wanting to sound Mumsy, which I often accidentally do without being a Mum whatsoever, there’s something very therapeutic about making bread. It’s creative, it’s practical, it’s satisfying, and it’s way fucking easier than pie.

So if you’re feeling uninspired, or a bit sad, I reckon that making this recipe for a big fat sourdough loaf will put a little smile back into your soul. At least if it doesn’t, you have something yummy to eat, and we all love eating.

I took this recipe from BBC Good Food, because it’s my holy grail, but I used spelt instead of rye flour and it was delicious.

You’ll need…

For the starter:

100g strong white bread flour

100g spelt flour

1/2 a 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast

For the main dough:

400g strong white bread flour

1/2 a 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast

1 tbsp salt

Do this…

1.) Put all of the ingredients for the starter plus 250ml of cold water into big bowl, mix it all together and then clingfilm it over and leave for 24 hours at room temperature. Just forget about the whole damn thing for a day, safe in the knowledge that those little yeast granules are gleefully busy fermenting .

2.) After 24 hours you can start making the main dough. Tip your white bread flour, a tbsp salt, the other half of the yeast sachet and 200ml cold water into the bowl with the starter. Mix this together until a loose dough forms. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for at least five minutes until you have a spongy elastic dough. (I always need to add more flour during kneading because otherwise it sticks to EVERYTHING.) Leave the dough to rise in the bowl at room temperature for at least an hour.

3) Tip the newly risen dough onto a floured surface, and gently shape into a round without knocking too much air out of it. Plop this onto a parchment covered baking sheet and leave to prove for one more hour.

4.) Score the top with a knife, dust with flour and bake it in the oven at 220c for 25 minutes until it is starting to brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.  A little tip, if you’d like a crusty crust, splash a cup of water in the bottom of the hot oven as you put the bread in. This creates a lovely steam, which somehow, creates a lovely crust.

5.) EAT IMMEDIATELY WITH CHEESE.

Annie x

Stress-free Flatbreads

Something that often succeeds in calming me down and focusing my thoughts is cooking. I find it incredibly therapeutic – and I love the instant satisfaction in being able to eat something delicious that I have just created with my bare hands. When life feels ever so complicated – it’s nice to get back to basics in the kitchen.

This recipe for flat breads is SO simple – I’m not known for my patience, I don’t like fiddly recipe instructions, I like to whip it up and go! I’ve tried loads of flat bread recipes over the years but I love this one because you only need 4 ingredients and don’t have to wait for the dough to rise, the breads can be ready in minutes.

You’ll need: 

200g plain flour

1/4 tsp sea salt

100ml warm water

2 tbsp olive oil

Do it like this:

1.) Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the water slowly and mix altogether.

2.) Add the oil and mix, then knead together on a clean floured surface until you have a soft dough. (It should feel a bit like your ear lobe when it’s ready.)

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3.) Once you have a lovely soft dough, break of small dumpling sized chunks and roll them out with a rolling pin into roughly pitta-shaped breads.

4.) Heat a frying pan on a high heat, you don’t need any oil – we cook these in a dry pan.

5.) Once the pan is hot, place one of the rolled out pieces of dough into the pan. Cook for about a minute each side, et voila! Its flat-bread o’clock!

IMG_4063
i love it when it bubbles like this!

Annie x