The Nigella Diaries – Bread

So anyways, I’ve been hopping around How To Eat for months now and figured it was time that I got back on track and back in order – and that means bread. Bread, however, is a problem at the moment.

While I have a tin of dried yeast in the fridge (that’s past its best before date) and managed to get my hands on flour this morning, strong flour, or bread flour, is impossible to come by and as for fresh yeast, well, that’s not going to happen; although Dutchy, the baker down the road that we buy our everyday sourdough from, said he can sell me some fresh yeast as long as I’m not intending on putting him out of business. I think he was joking.

As an aside, there is a difference between plain flour and strong or bread flour and it’s in the protein levels. The higher the protein level the higher the gluten and kneading the dough is what develops this network of gluteny strands to give the dough its stretch, elasticity and produce the airy holes that it needs. So, now you know. 

There’s a lot being written about bread and, in particular, sourdough at present. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with hungry “mother starters” bubbling away in jars in kitchens around the country. I’ve been tempted, but my attention span is such that I’m sure I’d lose interest way too quick. I suppose that’s why I laughed when I read somewhere that sourdough starter is a little like Tamagotchis for the thirty pluses – you have to keep feeding them or they die.

Then there’s the whole (inconvenient truth) thing that it takes quite a while to actually get good at making sourdough. People have written entire memoirs about their journeys with sourdough.

I do, however, totally understand why people are getting into making their own bread – especially now. There’s something so comforting about getting your hands into flour and kneading the dough; bread dough is for adults what play-doh is for kids. I get that.

Bread is, however, something that I need to practice and get better at. I make an excellent (if I do say so myself) mushroom and rosemary focaccia, and even manage a better than passable flat bread. Bread itself, though, is something that I haven’t baked much of – and that’s a problem because I’m working on the 3rd draft of a novel that features an awful lot of bread and baking.

Nigella’s white bread recipe is, though, going to have to wait until strong bread flour is back in stock and Dutchy is recovered after the thousands of hot cross buns he made for Easter and I get the courage to ask him for fresh yeast.

In the meantime, I decided I’d bake one of Nigella’s other bread recipes in order to fulfil the bread-making requirement – at least for now. This one, her soft white dinner rolls, doesn’t need fresh yeast and doesn’t expressly call for strong flour. You’ll find the recipe here. I made them completely by hand because I had the ice cream maker churning with frozen yoghurt and I couldn’t be faffed moving my stand mixer to a spare bit of bench. Besides, a little bit of kneading action is a great way to end the day job week.

While I’ll never be able to do the “bake six identical bread rolls” thing that they do in Bake-Off (again, it’s about my attention span) these look pretty good – and tasted fabulous.

I’ve taken on the challenge to cook my way through Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. You can find other episodes here.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

2 thoughts

  1. Hi, Jo – You truly are my food hero.
    I do make my own gluten-free bread (for Richard).
    In a breadmaker – no fuss – no muss — and definitely no kneading.
    Sacrilege – I know!

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