To mis-quote an old saying, it’s not possible for all of the people to like you all of the time but it’s still very difficult not to take things to heart when easily resolvable situations escalate. I recently found myself in one of those situations and thought my first draft of this blog post about it was quite chilled and vaguely humorous. Turns out that was really not coming across! Not in the second version either. (Thank goodness for honest opinions from the people closest to me). So I left it a few days and reading it again could see my frustration and anger had still been a lot closer to the surface than I had realised. I felt maligned, disparaged and very unfairly treated. Oh the injustice! Oh the rudeness! But it’s not always just world leaders who need to take a step back and breathe.
My immediate response, shameful though it is, is to react in kind and become just as obnoxious. Tit for tat. But that’s exactly how wars get started (see above) and I do actually have to live with my own conscience. So instead I have been baking bread: it’s amazing how something as simple as pummeling dough into shape can improve your mental health. There have been periods in my life when I have baked a lot of bread and it seems there are actually several benefits to making your own bread in times of stress, not least of which is the end result.
In the interests of world peace I thought I’d make a loaf: something that was a bit different to my normal loaf but not too heavy or dense. I like the flavour of granary and rye flour but combined it with white bread flour, some honey and a touch of oil to make a softer, lighter loaf with slightly better keeping qualities. Qualities I was hoping might rub off on me too… Bitterness and anger are all-consuming, destructive emotions in people: transfer them to your bread dough instead, where they will be annihilated long before it’s baked.
Purely for research purposes I’ve tried it with honey, lemon curd, goat’s cheese and soup: it’s good as bread, or toasted; with savoury, or sweet. While I can’t do anything about the situation itself I’m already feeling less stressed about it. And I have bread.
250g white bread flour
200g granary flour
50g rye flour
15g fresh yeast / 1 teaspoon dried yeast
Beaten egg to glaze
Put the white, granary and rye flours into a large bowl.
Add the yeast: either rub in the fresh yeast or mix in the dried yeast.
Add the salt and mix in and add the water, oil and honey.
Mix to a dough in the bowl (it will be quite a wet dough) and then turn out onto a clean work surface and knead. It will take about ten minutes to knead the bread until it is smooth and silky.
Oil a large bowl and put the dough into it. Cover with a tea towel or oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until it has roughly doubled in size.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Shape into a loaf shape and put onto an oiled baking tray, or put into an oiled 2lb loaf tin.
Brush the surface of the loaf with beaten egg, and slash it if you wish. Cover again and leave to prove for around half an hour. Set the oven to 200°C.
Bake for 30 minutes: when the loaf is ready it will sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.