Thursday, March 6, 2014
As I had a day off yesterday and people coming round it seemed like a good opportunity to bake some bread, specifically the black bread recipe that closes the book. It's a slightly modified version of Dan Lepard's recipe that can be found in 'Short and Sweet', Diana Henry's take on it is here, I think the main differences are that she's more specific about ingredients but the carrot and caraway combination is a winner and the instructions suit me just a little bit better (they're more descriptive and I like that).
There's something special about making bread, I love the slow pace of it which encourages a few hours of gentle pottering and tea drinking whilst it proves, rises, and generally does it's thing. I also love the tactile pleasure of kneading the dough (why use a bread machine? the hands on bit is the fun bit) and the sense of the dough being a living thing attracts me too. It's also very gratifying to find that the more bread you make the better you get at it, having a new bread to add to my repertoire is a good thing. Better yet though was the reaction to this one.
Now whenever you cook something for others naturally you want a positive reaction to it, generally my friends and family are polite enough to oblige with one but there are times when their enthusiasm is genuinely whole hearted (I can tell by the slight air of surprise...). My mother was the first person to try it, she said it smelt nice, took a bite and then her whole face changed and she declared 'but this is delicious' and then she asked for the recipe. I told her I had though of giving her a copy of 'A Change of Appetite' for mothers day, to which she replied that she could just take my copy, which would be helpful because she's now planning on making the black bread at the weekend. She got the book, I went out and bought myself another copy.
Next up my friend R tried it, she doesn't much enjoy cooking but she too is determined to bake it this weekend and has also indicated that a copy of the book would be well received as a birthday present (happily, as the shops had closed by then, her birthday is still far enough away for my replacement copy to be safe). My partner just settled for telling me I could make it again. Clearly a winning recipe.
When I think of black bread I always picture the really dense (like a brick) stuff but this is a soft, if pleasingly chewy, loaf with a 'dark' sweet flavour - the colour comes from a combination of rye flour, treacle, coffee, muscovado sugar, and cocoa. It's great on it's own but would be spectacular with pickled fish.