Breaks, Bad Bread Baking and Batfink

Ciao a tutti!

Happy New Year! Apologies it’s late. I hope you’re all getting off to an excellent start ūüôā It’s been somewhat slow here having only got back to Italy earlier this week. It’s been good to have a break and lovely to catch up with friends and family in the UK though I never get around to seeing everyone I’d like.

So what have I been up to? Well, apart from contracting what I think must have been the Plague over the Christmas period, I’ve been travelling around the UK a bit seeing some lovely areas…

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Langston Harbour in Hampshire

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Rhossili Bay in Wales

 

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Belton House in Lincolnshire

I missed Sarnano a lot but my lovely neighbour sent me lots of¬†pictures…

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I’m gutted I missed the snow! It was all gone by the time we got back. Hopefully it’ll snow again before Spring.

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Sarnano looking like a postcard… There’s still snow on the mountains now but nothing like this.

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She even took pictures of my Batfink waiting outside the door looking very regal

Last Sunday we flew back to Italy via Bologna and had a nice afternoon and morning wandering around there before heading back to Sarnano the following day. I was expecting a house full to the brim with mould but actually it wasn’t too bad as I think the neighbour had been in and out every so often to air it.¬†¬†Batfink was beside himself on our return. ¬†I’ve never seen a cat overjoyed before but this one certainly was when we came back. It’s nice to feel missed!

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Batfink requesting permission to come along next time.

Since we’ve been back I’ve been on a bread making mission which to all intents and purposes, has been a disaster. This mission came about because I find the yeast situation confusing over here (it comes in little refrigerated packets that look like blocks of butter rather than the dry¬†stuff I’m used to) and the local bread is quite expensive (not to mention tasteless). So I’ve been experimenting with sourdough. Sourdough is weird. It’s made with yeast that’s been collected from the air. You basically make¬†a flour/watery gunk and leave it for a few days until it looks disgusting. This is called a “starter”. You feed it with flour and water to keep it going. It’s like having an invisible pet. Then when you want to make a loaf of bread you take some of the gunk, add some flour and water and spend hours and hours alternating between kneading the thing and waiting for it to rise. Then,¬†once you bake it, it¬†comes out like a very unattractive lead weight with a massive hole in the middle (or at least mine did).

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Gunk. Otherwise known as a “Starter”.

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After decades (I might have to work on my patience) of kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise it was ready to go in the oven…

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Whilst in the oven, the promising looking loaves were¬†replaced with these horrible looking things. My oven must be haunted. It’s the only explanation.

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But hey, perhaps it was ok inside I hear you cry? No. No it wasn’t. Stupid bread.

This year, I have resolved to focus on things and get good at them rather than my usual tact of not focusing on anything and being bad at them. So. I shall not be defeated. Tune in shortly for more bread updates. Meanwhile, I would encourage you all to try making sourdough and post comments of your disasters too (I am not interested in hearing if your bread has gone perfectly) so that I have some moral support.

I think that about sums up the last few weeks.  I hope you all have a good week or so!

x

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2 thoughts on “Breaks, Bad Bread Baking and Batfink

  1. Melanie

    Hi Sue
    I just found your blog a couple of days ago and have loved reading about your adventures. I used to live in Le Marche and found myself experiencing a sense of deja vu through your posts!
    I have also recently learned to make sourdough bread and the recipe I have calls for the loaf to be baked for the first 15-20mins in a cast iron pot with a lid. This apparently creates a steam which helps to give a good bake (in the absence of a very expensive steam injected oven!). I’ve used my Le Creuset pot and a round cake tin (with another cake tin on the top as the ‘lid’) with fairly good results. Maybe it’s worth a try?
    Thanks again for a lovely walk down memory lane.
    Melanie

    • Hi Melanie, Thanks for the lovely comments! I’m glad you like the blog. It’s always nice to ‘meet’ other Le Marche folks – it always seems to be so overlooked as a region which is a shame. Ah yes, the steam thing. I’ve seem some bakers spray the inside of the oven with water before they put their loaf in and/or have another pot of water on a lower shelf. The Le Creuset pot is a good idea, I’ll give it a go. Alas, I think I’ve killed my starter. It’s stopped bubbling and anything I make with it now comes out denser and heavier than lead! I’m having a few days break with regular bread to assure myself I’m not a rubbish baker and then I’ll try again at the weekend with a new starter I think! Thanks for the tips ūüôā
      Sue

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