Archive for December, 2011

Christmas break / 冬休み

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Christmas break is finally upon us! Though we only get 3 weeks, as opposed to every other course in the UK that gets a whole month. Meh. But I can finally sleep and do stuff without this feeling of dread or guilt. I slept for 12 hours last night. I want to bake lots of bread and caked and have dinner parties and watch a million films and catch up with anime and get back to doll work. I hate not having time to do anything creative, it IS all I live for and when it’s taken away from me everything feels so wrong.

今日から、冬休みが始まります。^^やっと、よく寝ることや楽しいことができます。色々なパンを作ったり、アニメを見たり、友達に会ったり、人形の洋服を作ったりしたいです。勉強してばかりいるのは本当につまらないです。T_T でも、冬休み中、一所懸命がんばって、今まで習った漢字をよく覚えるようになるつもりです。留学試験は2月の予定です!こわいな〜。

Something new is in the works…

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Pain mon amour

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

My new favourite thing in life is baking bread. I absolutely LOVE bread and eat ridiculous amounts of it and ever since I moved to the UK I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with its quality over here.

A while ago I bought myself a bread machine and was baking a loaf every other day. Eventually, I started taking the dough out to shape and bake in the oven so that it looked prettier, and soon I ditched the machine all together. For a few weeks now I’ve been perusing a bunch of blogs of incredibly talented bakers around the world and picking up techniques and recipes.

My attempts, for a complete novice, have been pretty encouraging! I use flour from various grains, so far apart from wheat I’ve tried spelt, rye, barley and kamut and I like to put seeds in like chia, sunflower, pumpkin or linseed resulting in very nice, very healthy loaves. I even found an incredible oak smoked malted flour at Waitrose, you can just imagine from the name what it tastes like.

But the queen of all bread is no other than PAIN AU LEVAIN of course, aka sourdough. This bread does not use commercial yeast, it’s made taking advantage of the yeasts that reside naturally on the grain. But these yeasts have to first be cultivated. I had been thoroughly horrified with how complicated the instructions were for the thing, and I set off to make one without really fully understanding what I was getting myself into. To my surprise however, it worked out perfectly and now I can proudly present to you Blobby-chan, my 100% hydration starter!

Making pain au levain is no easy business and certainly not a quick one. Normally you will feed your starter with flour and leave it for 12 hours, then feed it again and leave it for 12-24 hours, then make the dough, knead, ferment, knead, ferment, shape, let rise, bake. This can take up to even 4 days if you’re feeling adventurous. My first loaf was a bit ugly but tasted so good I couldn’t be happier.

The next one was prettier, with a better, more open crumb. What every sourdough baker is after is huge, evenly distributed holes in their loaves. I’ll get there eventually!

My prettiest loaf yet was this soda bread.

I haven’t been baking only bread though. Here’s a banana cake.

And some cinnamon rolls, proved and ready for baking.

Baking has become some sort of therapy for me now, I can’t describe the sheer JOY I feel every time I take a new loaf out of the oven. Blobby-chan is like my pet now, she lives in the fridge and I feed her every other day. I always have some dough fermenting that will need a fold from time to time, and it’s always (ALWAYS) amazingly fun to watch it double in size. I could go on and on. I wish I had some baking friends!