Bread has been missing from my blog because until last weekend, I hadn't baked bread for over a month. When it comes to bread we don’t eat homemade one hundred percent of the time, usually it complements a variety of store bought bread. But, I find having a stash of wholesome, homemade bread in the freezer very comforting.
Life has speed up lately and feeding my sourdough starters regularly is all I have managed to do.
Last weekend I was determined to get back into the swing of it. Out came the starters, flour, water, salt, banettons, cooling racks and the slashing knife. On Sunday morning the wood oven flickered back into action as I started mixing, proving and shaping six white loaves.
From the first step of refreshing the starters through to fueling the fire, I find the whole process very soothing.
Later in the afternoon I made the decision that the oven was hot enough and I raked the fire and coals out into a blackened steel bucket. This step can still be rather daunting. Judging the retained heat is very much guided by instinct rather than an exact formula. The moment of truth arrived when the ash was mopped off the oven floor, the loaves slashed and swiftly placed into the depths of the oven with the heavy metal door slammed behind them.
Taking the loaves from the oven can be joyous or occasionally heartbreaking, depending on so many variables. On this occasion it was joyous.
Do you sometimes feel the power of flour and bread?
I know some of you do x