making bread

Bread Making

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Before Covid-19 took over our lives and made it difficult to go out, except for essentials, few people made their own bread. I have always made it from time to time. I find it therapeutic, and the bread tastes so much better than the shop-bought stuff.

Hand-made is better than bread machine, too, in my opinion. I somehow feel that in a bread machine, it’s not really made by me. I stick in the ingredients and leave the machine to do the work.

However, when the lockdown came, everyone seemed to decide that this was the time to make their own bread (and cakes, probably biscuits, pies and everything else that needed flour). Flour vanished from the shelves, as did yeast, so I was stuck.

Amazon came to the rescue, however, and I got bread flour and yeast. (Both from the UK) I could only buy 16kg flour, so that’s a lot of loaves! I also bought some bread improver, too.

So we set off to make bread. We decided to experiment and wrote what we thought of each experiment.

First of all, I would like to mention the yeast. Of course, you can use fresh bakers’ yeast if you can get it. (I got some from Morrison’s before all this lockdown stuff kicked off.)

The problem with fresh yeast is that you need to use it fairly quickly as it only keeps 2 weeks maximum in a refrigerator.

Also, be careful when using dried yeast. Some is ‘quick’ or ‘fast-acting’ and some isn’t. If you have the fast-actingtype, you can simply sprinkle it on your flour and mix well in. For the other, non-quick, you need to activate it first in some warm water taken from the total amount you are going to use. If you like, you can add some sugar to help it get going, but not too much.

Here is my final recipe:

Image by hadevora from Pixabay

Ingredients:

500g strong bread flour
350ml warm water (about 30C)
2 teaspoons sugar
7g dried yeast (activated if necessary with ½ teaspoon sugar)
5g bread improver (optional)
2 teaspoons salt.

Method.

  1. Put the yeast into a cup and add ½ teaspoon from the sugar. Pour in about 50ml of warm (30C) water from the 350ml and stir with a fork. Put to one side and leave for around 10-15 minutes, or until it’s bubbling and frothy.
  2. Carefully weigh the flour and put it into a large basin. Add the bread improver (if used) salt and the remaining sugar. Mix thoroughly together.
  3. When the yeast is nice and frothy, pour it into the flour. Use a little of the warm water to make sure it’s all out of the cup, then add the rest of the water.
  4. Mix until it comes together and makes a fairly sticky dough. Turn it out onto your work surface WITHOUT adding flour. If you put flour on your work surface, it will make your carefully weight amounts wrong.
  5. Knead the dough. I used a technique from Richard Bertinet who is a professional baker. You can watch a video of how he kneads bread on YouTube.
  6. When the dough is elastic, dust a large bowl, put the dough in and cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave in a fairly warm place for at least an hour. The length of time will depend on the warmth of the room. Wait until it has doubled in size.
  7. Shape the dough and make rolls, round loaves, long rolls, or put it into a tin. Cover again with a tea towel and leave until doubled in size once again. The longer you leave it at this stage, the lighter your loaves will be. The yeast will produce more carbon dioxide and thus more holes.
  8. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature (ideally around 250C). I heated mine to 230C which is as high as it will go. Heat for at least 30 minutes. I used a baking stone, already in the oven, but you can use an upturned baking tray, heated in the oven for the half hour.
  9. I used a wooden slider thingy to get the bread off the tray it had proved on, but you can use whatever you have. Be very careful not to handle it as it will quickly collapse. Slide it onto your stone or tray and shut the oven door. I allowed it to cook for 10 minutes at the highest temperature then turned it down 20C as the first ones I made were slightly burned on the crust.
    Cooking time will depend on what you’ve made. Rolls will take around 15-20 minutes, but a large loaf can take up to 45 minutes.
    When cooked, the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

You can get the ebook version of my first recipe book, Viv’s Family Recipes FREE from today until June 2nd. I have an interest in history as well as cooking and this book has recipes from the early part of the 20th Century until now. It is interesting to see how our tastes have changed during that time.

I’ve been wondering whether to publish another recipe book. This time it would be a yeast cookery book, I think. What do you think of that idea?

Let me know in the comments box.

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Currently #52 in British & Irish Historical Literature on Amazon,

Vengeance of a Slave

Forced to watch his father’s crucifixion and separated from his mother, orphaned six-year-old Adelbhert’s life forever changes when he is sold into slavery in Britannia.

Years of servitude fill his heart with malice and he resolves to escape, determined to rescue those he loves and deliver retribution to the Romans who wronged him.

But as new allies shed light on old perspectives, Adelbhert begins to question his path. Will he find true freedom, or allow his vengeance to consume him?

R. J. Krzak, Award-Winning Author, gave this review on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Riveting Story Set in Roman Times

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve read of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

Don’t miss your opportunity to get this book absolutely FREE Remember it’s for a limited time.

Click on the book cover in the side bar or the highlighted text to go to Amazon where you are.

If you take advantage of this offer, I would be grateful if you would post a brief review of the book. With so many books being published daily, it is difficult to get any individual book noticed. Reviews help in this, as well as helping readers to decide if a book is one they would enjoy.

Thank you in advance.

Review of Dark Fire by c.j.sansom

Overview

This book is one of the books about the lawyer, Matthew Shardlake and is set at the time that Henry VIII wanted to divorce Anne of Cleves in order to marry Katherine Howard.

This is an exciting story and keeps you turning the pages. Just one more page. Oh, alright, just one more chapter. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that you simply must keep on reading?

Blurb

England, 1540: Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother horribly murdered – the formula has disappeared.

Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .

Story

Shardlake has, in the past, done work for Thomas Cromwell, and in this tale Cromwell sends for him to investigate the discovery of a mysterious substance, supposedly the mythical Greek Fire. Cromwell has promised a demonstration to the king, but unfortunately, the said Greek Fire has gone missing.

Things political are moving against Thomas Cromwell. The powerful Duke of Norfolk, Katherine Howard’s uncle, wishes a return to Rome, and his star is rising. This demonstration of Greek Fire (the Dark Fire of the title) would help Cromwell regain his position. But there are mysteries within mysteries here, and a time limit to find the stuff before the day of the demonstration.

At the same time as this, Shardlake has taken on the defence of Elizabeth, accused of murder, but whom Shardlake and her uncle believe to be innocent. Again, there is a time limit before her execution.

Characters

Matthew Sharadlake is afflicted with a twisted spine, and this causes him, not only physical problems, but he also meets with prejudices from people around him. However, in spite of this, he overcomes his physical problems, and does not let them cause him to become bitter.

He does have human flaws, though, which bring him to life as a real person, and we feel we can relate to him, and like him. His wit and intelligence get him through most things.

There are also other characters in the book who are also well-drawn. The man whom Cromwell sets to act as a help and protector of Shardlake, Jack Barak, is a complex character who is both educated and streetwise.

I cannot go through all the many characters we meet in these pages, but all are well-drawn and realistic.

Writing

The writing is excellent. I think I only discovered one typo and not grammatical errors in the whole book. Quite a breath of fresh air. Even in many traditionally published books I often find many typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The research on the history of the time, and what life was like is exempliary. We can almost smell the rotting vegetables and other things in the streets and understand the horrors of Newgate prison. And the heat of the summer almost has us sweating along with Shardlake and Barak.

We feel along with Shardlake all his emotions and pains.

Conclusion

This is definitely a book to read if you enjoy mysteries set in past ages. I would recommend it to people who like mysteries wherever set, and also to people who enjoy books set in historical times. Perhaps not if your preference is for Historical Romance, though. Not much of that.

I’ve given it 5*

Please leave a comment in the comments box. It’s entirely free! I enjoy hearing what you think of my posts.

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3 more weather haiku: Wind

WIND

March wind howls like wolves
Stalking herds of antelope
But I am safe inside.

Gentle breezes sigh,
Making all the flowers dance,
And wheat fields ripple.

The wind can destroy,
Downing trees and causing
Immense destruction.

I’ve tried to give different aspects of the wind in these three haiku.

Have you written any haiku? Did you find it easy or difficult to stick to the required format? I’d love to know what you wrote about and whether you posted them online.

5 pairs of confused words I’ve recently come across

LOSE/LOOSE (both verbs)
This was not, in fact recent, but when I was teaching, many moons ago, I had a cover lesson for an absent English teacher. One child brought his work up to show me. I glanced at the previous work done and marked by the said English teacher.
I cannot remember the exact sentence the boy had written, but let’s say it was something like ‘If you aren’t careful you’ll lose your wallet’ Imagine my shock when I noticed the boy had written ‘lose’, correctly spelling it, but the teacher (English teacher remember) had crossed it out and written ‘loose’.


LOSE is to misplace something.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


LOOSE is to release, or to not be tight as in my shoelaces are loose) .

WET/WHET (both verbs)
The second of these is often rendered like the first. I recently came across it as ‘wet his appetite.’


WET. Covered in water, or has water soaked into it. It can be other liquids, too.

Image by Jason Gillman from Pixabay


WHET. To sharpen
You use a whetstone to sharpen a knife (or dagger) I used to think, when I was little, that the said stone had to be used after putting water on it. But it’s a sharpening stone.
Similarly the scent of cooking will whet (sharpen) your appetite for the meal to come.

INSURE/ENSURE (both verbs)
Now these are becoming interchangeable, it seems. In fact, INSURE seems to be taking over, But in fact they have different meanings.

Image by Maaark from Pixabay


ENSURE. To make sure something does or does not happen.
e.g. I will lock the door to ENSURE no one gets into the house while I’m out shopping.

Image by Henryk Niestrój from Pixabay


INSURE. This is to make payments to a company who will pay you money in compensation if the thing insured against happens.
e.g. ‘When I go on holiday, I take out travel insurance in case something goes wrong.’

IMPLY/INFER. (both verbs)
I heard these confused recently on BBC radio 4.IMPLY. To suggest something without actually saying it.
e.g.‘Are you implying that I’m not telling the truth?’
INFER. To draw a conclusion from something that has not been specifically said.
e.g. ‘I infer from what you said, that he told lies about it.’

HOARD/HORDE
This one I read in a book recently, Hoard was used instead of Horde!

Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay


HOARD. A verb or a noun.
Verb. To accumulate something, then hide it from others.
Noun. A secret stock of money or other valuables that is usually kept secret.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


HORDE. A large group of people, although it can be used of other living things.
e.g.The pied piper of Hamelin led a HORDE of rats away from the town.
There was a HORDE of football fans coming down the street toward me.

I hope these few words of mine help you in your use of the English Language.

Please feel free to reblog this post (or any others for that matter!) I love to hear from you.

Your comments on any blog help search engines find it, so please leave a comment in the comments box.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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