"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Friday, 23 July 2010

My first attempt at baking bread

On 31 May 2010 I received my precious solar oven.  It was the wrong model and it arrived damaged and I am (still) trying to get that sorted out - but that I'll leave for another post.

But I am too impatient to wait for summer to try baking bread in my solar oven.  And I don't have the Dover stove yet.  So, after much research on the Internet and reading a snippet on another blog I follow ( http://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/ )  I came across this site:

Brilliant - I had found a bread recipe which didn't entail the strength, energy and time required to knead bread dough.  Time - not a problem - neither is energy - but strength.  I had tennis elbow a few years ago, and, due to the dreaded cortisone injections which were required to assist the healing of that elbow, I have been left with a right arm which is a mere shadow of it's former self, strength-wise.

And I had a "baking stone" - I had brought a spare unglazed clay floor tile back from the farm which I scrubbed really clean.

So, on Wednesday I proceeded to whip up a batch of dough.  I added the yeast to the warm water (I measured the temperature of the water with a normal (sterilised) medical thermometer :-) which is all I had available, to ensure it was the required 40oC) and let that stand for approximately 30 minutes whilst it "frothed" up.  After mixing in the flour and salt I let the dough stand on my kitchen counter for the next 3 - 4 hours before putting it in my fridge overnight.  Then yesterday afternoon, as I planned a rare oven-roasted chicken for supper (the oven would be put to multi-use - our electricity cost has just been increased by 25.8% so I am very conscious of saving power whenever and wherever possible) I placed the baking stone inside and turned on my oven to the required 230oC, and, removing a portion of the dough from the refrigerated batch, let it rest on the counter until the oven was hot enough.

I put the dough on the baking stone, and placed the cup of water underneath and closed the door - and waited with baited breath (and a torch so that I could monitor the progress through the glass as my oven light doesn't work).

Seriously, it turned out perfectly.  And was so easy!!!!

The verdict of my family - brilliant!  The entire loaf got wiped by my husband, son and a couple of slices for me, naturally.

Now I want to try it in our gas grill - and details on that can be found at:  http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

There is absolutely no reason why anyone has to buy bread - it couldn't be easier to make your own loaf.