Making bread at home
One of my favourite foods is bread. Simple, humble bread. In my parents’ place in Spain there’s a loaf on the table every day and I can easily eat half of it in one go, especially if my mum cooked something with a delicious sauce. However, I’ve been living in China for a long time and bread is not exactly a staple here. For many years I just ignored my cravings and then proceeded to stuff my face when I was back in my hometown. Sometimes I would find and buy bread here in China, but it often was quite expensive and never too good.
There’s a WeChat group for Spanish speaking women in Suzhou and, some time ago, one of the members mentioned baking her own bread at home. To me this sounded like witchcraft. Isn’t making bread super difficult and involves kneading for hours? Then, a few months later, I heard of something called no knead bread and decided to give it a try. After all, I had the most important thing that was required: an oven, an appliance that is quite uncommon in China. So I searched for a recipe online and bought the ingredients I didn’t have in my kitchen: bread flour (with a higher gluten content than normal flour) and yeast. Finding them on the online supermarket was very easy. Then I followed the recipe and prepared the dough as indicated. I did everything as the recipe said. The next day I baked my bread… and something went wrong. That bread was as hard as a stone.
After asking for help on WeChat, I followed the tips of a German lady who gave me a different recipe for no knead bread and suggested I use a cheap ceramic pot to bake the bread in, instead of the expensive Dutch oven indicated in the recipe. Comparing the new recipe with the one I had followed the first time, it seems what made my first bread fail was leaving the dough in the fridge during the night: it was too cold and the yeast didn’t do its work. I tried again with the new recipe, left the dough on the kitchen counter overnight instead of in the fridge and… success!!
I am now a very happy person who makes bread once a week (I don’t want to make it more often because I eat it mostly myself!). I have tried another recipe that involves a bit of kneading and found out kneading is kind of relaxing. Lately I’m doing a mixture of the two recipes and my breads are getting better and better! And it only takes me maybe 15 minutes of actual work!
Now my husband jokes that I can open a bakery and sell expensive bread too! For sure my bread is healthier than the one sold in stores here, which often contains sugar or some strange ingredients (mine only has flour, water, yeast and salt). Making my own bread was something that I wanted to accomplish, and I’m very proud of myself! My next step might be baking more things… although that could be dangerous for my waistline! For now, one day I felt like using the muffin tray I bought years ago and I made pumpkin, dates and dark chocolate muffins. The chocolate was 90% cocoa and no other sugar was added, only the dates. They were good!
Are you a bread fan like me? Have you tried making your own bread?
PS. The coronavirus is still going on but the situation in Suzhou is looking quite good, with only 2 new cases in the city in the last week. C. has been back in his office since Monday and there are way more cars and people in the streets. Schools don’t have a confirmed reopening date yet though. Life seems to be slowly returning to normal here.