Monday, January 29, 2007

Bread Baking

We built a wood-fired oven for making bread at home and decided last week that it was time to try it out. Mohamed Said went out and bought about 15 kg of flour, both white and whole wheat, some baker's yeast, some bran, and we organised the trays and baking equipment that we bought at the market a couple of weeks ago. Oh, and we also got a lot of wood for the fire. Magda came in and mixed up flour, water, and yeast in the largest plastic bin we had and left it to raise. Then once it had risen once, she formed it into balls and patted them flat to lay in the wooden trays to rise once again. After the second rising, the patties were flattened again and flipped a number of times on palm wood trays to reach the appropriate size and then slid into the oven.

The fire was built beneath the cooking tile on which the bread was baking and the tile would take two loaves. They were maneuvered around with a palm frond that had been carved down into a flat end. The entire process only took a few hours and we made rather a lot of least 10 kilos of it. Each loaf was about 10 to 15 cm (roughly 12 inches?) across and they were cut into quarters to put into plastic bags for freezing to use later. One quarter of a loaf is plenty for a sandwich that doesn't leave a millimetre of space in your stomach. BUT the bread is so delicious that it is really hard to eat just one.

I have no idea if this fresh bread is more economical than the bought bread but the flavour is so amazingly wonderful that I know we will continue to bake our own bread. We just had two couples from the US staying at the farm for about four days and they all couldn't get enough of the bread. It makes a great panini with a crunchy crust, heats up in the microwave without getting soggy like the commercial bread, all in all, it is just wonderful.

So now we will begin to explore the possibilities of the oven with perhaps pizza or tagens, the casseroles baked in ceramic pots in these ovens.
Tomorrow is bread day again. Our visitors did a pretty good job of emptying the stocks, but the guys aren't exactly slouches in the eating department either.