Friday, November 28, 2014

Four ingredients only for the perfect bread!

Baguette aka French Loaves, using sourdough ferment, whole meal flour and rye flour

I made my first loaf of bread more than 15 years back, adapting and using recipes from The Bread Book  by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake. At that time, we were living in Singapore and it was almost impossible to get most of the flours the authors had mentioned there. Most of the breads I tried to bake were not very successful since the flours were not available and  I gave up after a while.

After relocating to Germany at the end of 2001, we bought a bread making machine. Oh, that's tasty! At least that's what I thought at that time. I was pretty happy with the breads coming out that machine. I only had to throw in the ingredients, press the button and hey, the next thing you know, you've got this pretty cool looking and rather tasty bread. Then, the excitement dwindled away and yup, we stopped using the bread machine and went back to buying bread from the bakers. It was an easy option.

About three years ago - that must be that magical moment in my life as I became very wary of what the industry is producing and selling to us (and I'm not just talking about bread, mind you) and aware of the by-products which you and I don't exactly need to consume. So, that's when I began to look into baking breads again, plus what could be better than living in Germany where I can get all kinds of flours especially whole meal types?! That's how I realised that to make bread, you only need four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast - nothing else. Look at the ingredients listed on the bread labels sold, it contains stuff you certainly can't pronounce or need.

At this time, I still had The Bread Book  on my book shelf and found the flours in the book were are not quite the same as what is sold in the supermarkets and natural stores here in Germany. I wasn't satisfied with the techniques in the book too - please note, the techniques just didn't work for me, not that they are right or wrong. I went through a couple of bread books till I came across Richard Bertinet's Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread and wow, I was blown away with the techniques (very unusual way of preparing your dough by lifting and folding it and boy does one develop arm muscles quick!) and most of all, the taste of the bread!!

Anyway, his second book Crust was my introduction to sourdough. I can't say I like all of his recipes in his books, but like all recipe books, you get the basic idea and you experiment, note down your ingredients. You learn to "read" your dough and the daily weather conditions affect whether you add room temperature or slightly warmer or cooler water to your flours.

I have two bread books by two very passionate German hobbyist bread makers, Rustikale Brot aus deutschen Landen by Gerhard Kellner and just this week, my copy of  Brotbackbuch Nr 1 (2nd edition) by Lutz Geißler arrived. I am most excited to dive into Mr Geißler's book as I have heard his recipes are fabulous.

And you know what the best thing is? No matter how your bread turns out looking, homemade bread always taste good!!

Sourdough bread with whole meal flour, whole meal rye and rye flour

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Broken Rhythm...

I have decided to stop making glass beads altogether. Was it a difficult decision to make? Yes and no. Yes, because I have spent so much on my equipment and materials plus it was to supplement my income from home. No, because I no longer can concentrate on making glass beads. Why? Read on...

Early this year, my mother met with an accident and suffered a brain trauma, which has left her right side paralysed and she is bed bound . I have flown home several times this year to help out my dad and mum; it's taken a toll on me not just physically but mentally too. The flight between Singapore and Germany is very tedious - I'm no longer a young buckaroo. Mum is taken care of at home, my dad has employed a housekeeper to help out who is also mum's caregiver at the same time. So, long story short, it's been difficult for me to even sit down to melt any glass rods into beads, given my mum's worrying condition. Mum is 78 and dad is 80 - perhaps you get the picture as to why I can't concentrate on making any glass beads.

I have however began to wire-work, nothing fancy in the makings, mainly working with steel annealed wire presently till I get the hang of things before I move on to using sterling and fine silver. I'm afraid I have no pictures for this blog on my wire-work as this is a really spontaneous blog update. Bear with me, I shall have some taken for my next blog update.

In the meantime, may I share some photos of Jenny, my sweet Dackel, with you? She's 2½ years old now. Time sure flies by fast.

Hoping for that morsel of leftovers

Runaway Bride?

Jenny at the Elbe 

Man, it's warm today...