Al, Buyer at Planet Organic tells us about his favourite organic recipes & how he loves to cook.
"I have been making bread for a couple of years, and now find that I have become a complete bread bore. If you were to sit next to me at a dinner party it would not be long before I was trying to explain the deep sense of joy and satisfaction at a well risen loaf, and encouraging you to roll your sleeves up and get your fingers in some wet dough. If you were unlucky enough to still be next to me for dessert, I would by then be waxing lyrical about the notion of craft, and what it means to the soul to hand make something in this digital, disposable culture of ours. So imagine my delight when NEOM offered me their blog as my very own soapbox. "What would I want to talk about" they asked. Well, I said, I am sure I can think of something...
As a child I used to help my Mum make cakes, which meant I would get in the way, make a mess, wait impatiently to see the miraculously risen cake emerge from the oven, and be first in line for a slice. Making bread involves reliving all of these childhood memories, from the soft flour between my fingers and working at the sticky dough to the sense of wonder when the dough has risen. There is then the feeling of satisfaction when contemplating a beautifully baked loaf fresh from the oven. The feeling that I made something. For some reason this is different to any other cooking. I might cook a great chilli, or bake a lovely looking apple crumble, but bread is different. It feels like a craft, like throwing a pot or knitting a sweater. Neither of which I can do.
I am lucky enough to have a job I enjoy, in an industry that I believe in. But I don't make things. Not many of us do any more. We build spreadsheets, or write reports, or sell things, or whatever it is that we do, but we don't make anything. And making something beautiful, or even something a little lopsided and funny looking, is a deeply, deeply satisfying experience, and fundamental to our nature. And you can have it for the price of a bag of flour, and half an hour's work.
Making bread is not difficult. It takes about five hours from start to finish, but only half an hour of that is actual work. The rest is reading the paper on a Sunday morning, or taking the dog for a walk. The last five minutes is enjoying a crust of fresh bread, simply spread with butter, and thinking about how clever you are.
If you are inspired top give it a go, I cannot recommend highly enough a book in the River Cottage Handbook series by Daniel Stevens simply called "Bread", which after several false starts was the book that finally got me baking. Go on. Roll your sleeves up, throw some flour around and make something for a change."
Planet Organic is the UK's leading organic supermarket, and they stock everything for the home-baker including 30 different types of flour, from stone-ground bread flour to a huge range of gluten free flours with everything from chestnut flour to coconut flour to quinoa flour.
17 June 2011 01:00:00 BST
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