A quiet day today, with only a flat half full, so I caught up with the housework and did some baking! The above cake is from the Great British Bake Off Learn to Bake book, which I use more than Girl Lacer. It’s meant to Blackberry cake but I didn’t have enough blackberries in the freezer, so it’s a mixture of blackberries and raspberries. After all the birthday cooking I fancied something that did not have chocolate in and it’s just what I wanted in a wholesome sort of way, I particularly liked the ginger in it.
I made the cake between provings of a pesto twirl loaf from Brilliant Bread by James Morton (one of last year’s Great British Bake Off competitors). I’ve been itching to try something from James’ book for ages and although he writes that the pesto twirl loaf almost didn’t make it in because it’s a restaurant cliche, I’ve obviously been skipping those restaurants, because it’s the first I heard of it and I’m glad it made the cut, as ooh, anything with pesto in! Although I cheated a bit and used shop bought pesto (nice shop bought pesto mind you).
If you haven’t seen Brilliant Bread I definitely recommend you check it out, it’s lovely to have a book just about bread and yes I know Paul Hollywood has his bread book to (which I also have, but have yet to bake from) but Morton’s book looks a lot more comprehensive. It’s also more about incorporating bread making into your everyday life and yet at the same time introducing a few science-y bits. Morton states something that I’d been thinking about to just before I bought that book, that even though in today’s mass produced world, where being some sort of maker rarely guarantee that what you’re making will be cheaper than what you could have bought off the shelf, making your own bread is cheaper. My probably typical family of four spends a fortune on bread, costing well over a pound a time these days, whereas a bag of strong white flour, which has enough for three loaves of bread, is well under a pound. And considering the only extras you really need is some yeast, salt and tepid water, you’re sorted. You could argue I suppose that homemade loaves are smaller than shop bought ones but as much as I’m concerned about the cost of the shop bought bread we’re buying, I’m also concerned about how much excessive carbs we’re putting away and don’t get me started about the quality of shop bought bread, I can get quite evangelical. It’s a bit weird, but you know how you can go off certain foods when you’re pregnant? Well when I was pregnant, a very long time ago now, with Girl Lacer, I went off most brands of bread, they just tasted ‘funny’ and even now there are very few brands I’ll eat (wholegrain Hovis and white Warburton’s basically and even they aren’t anywhere close to good bakery made or homemade bread). I enforce wholegrain Hovis on the family most of the time, even though they’d all much rather eat white bread, if we’ve run out and the only bread down the local shop is white Hovis (they don’t stock Warburton’s) everyone else is really happy and I go breadless (white Hovis is particularly yucky in my opinion). So, sorry I’m rambling but when you consider that homemade bread is considerably cheaper to make, is more satisfying than shop bought bread, is in smaller servings so less carbs, is properly made (unlike that steamed fake stuff) and is not pumped full of additives, yay for homemade bread! And, as Morton demonstrates in his diary of a typical day, which is in his book, although there is a lot of proving time, the actual amount of time you’re doing anything to the dough is quite short, so it is really easy to fit the various stages throughout your day. Life is a bit up in the air at the moment, so it’s hard to fit new routines in when I don’t know what I’ll be doing next month or next year, but I am determined, if I can, maybe not to completely replace shop bought bread but to reduce the amount of the stuff we buy considerably and I really feel that Brilliant Bread is going to help with that.
Brilliant Bread has a good selection of basic loaves, breads to impress, breads with bits (the roasted garlic bread, omg, it looks like a little bit like the roasted garlic bread from Gail’s Bakery, which is guaranteed to keep you safe from vampires for a week and is divinely good, this will probably be my next bake from the book), advanced yeasted breads which includes sour doughs (Marmite bread, oh yes), more sourdoughs (sourdough bagel, check, sourdough baguette, check, as well as the usual suspects), enriched doughs, laminated doughs and nearly breads (such as his famous gingerbread house / barn).
But back to my pesto twirl loaf or should I say mine and Boy Lacer’s pesto twirl loaf, as he helped with some of the key bits. It is gorgeous. Morton recommends tossing a cup of water into the bottom of the oven when the loaf goes in, as it makes a good crust and oh did it work! (I don’t know if he meant literally the bottom of the oven, I put the water in a pie tin first before putting it in the bottom of the oven). Me and Boy Lacer ate it as is, but I think it’d be really nice dipped into a little saucer of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, yum.