8. September 2019

Baking bread took me seven years to learn

But not for the reasons that you would imagine. I just failed to realize bread making is neither time consuming, nor particularly difficult. For those who are not satisfied with the bread available to purchase, and those who don’t want to wait seven years to find a solution, let me write this down…

Yes, it’s over seven years now since I have been separated from bakeries supplying the bread that I am used to. Actually, I am not just talking about bread, I am talking about bread in the various flavours and shapes. Let me expain. I fulfil the cliché of the German living abroad who complains about the lack of “proper” bread. A form of homesickness, clearly! Whenever I am travelling to see my parents, I’ll make sure to raid the bread basket and replace its content from a local bakery.

While of course, I will keep visiting my parents, there’s no need to wait for the bread that I’m so used to and cannot find in the local supermarket. How did I find out after seven years? Somewhat by accident. I had an hour to spend while waiting for a train in Stuttgart. So I went to the only bookshop I could remember from the time I lived there (it had been bought by another company in the meantime, but still selling books). And found myself at the cooking and baking shelf. And there it was, the book that read “BROT, BROT, BROT”. Of course, I failed to see how I was manipulated by a book whose title was so obviously catered to fulfil my innate desire for bread.

When I realized that I was about to miss my train if I did not leave the bookshop now, I rushed to the cashier’s. But then the card machine broke. I was denied my dream purchase as I aborted my mission in favour of catching my train. In an ironical twist, after running to the train station, the train got cancelled, and I was without train and without book. But let me get to the point.

The point is that bread making is easy. Having arrived in London a day later, I knew that the chances of me showing up in the very same bookshop in Stuttgart would be slim. So I ordered the book onlin. Wwhich was harder than expected because how are you supposed to find a book that has “BROT” or “BREAD” in the title? There are bazillions of such books! Fortunately, I remembered that the author had a Swedish name which narrowed down the search space a little bit. The book in the English edition is called “BREAD, BREAD, BREAD”. Then tried my luck.

Looking back at my first few attempts, I have now empirical evidence that bread making is easy. Bread rolls─while oddly shaped─tasted great. Bagels (which I had made before)─while oddly shaped─tasted good enough. A wholemeal spelt bread baked in cast-iron casserole dish─came out with perfect taste and in perfect shape. A potato loaf with nigella seads came out perfectly, too (see below). Lucky streak? I don’t think so.

And what’s so simple about this? Clearly after slaving away for many hours… Well, I had not spent many hours in the kitchen. And the book claimed that having to knead the bread for ages is a myth. If that were true! So far I have made good experience. No kneading. Very few steps. Just a lot of waiting. And flour everywhere. I can live with that.

Search for BROT, BROT, BROT or BREAD, BREAD, BREAD or BRÖD, BRÖD, BRÖD and make sure you narrow the search down using the author’s name: Martin Johansson. Rest assured, I won’t get any commission. I just get the pleasure that comes with my hope that it won’t take you seven years to realize that bread making is simple and that everybody can do it.