And You Know I’ve Tried A LOT of Brownies

Simple Homeschool has a post that fits Connie’s journey to culinary competence. Here.

When she began asking to cook (age nine or younger) I found it hard as:

1. she didn’t want help

2. she didn’t want recipes

3. my kitchen is MY KINGDOM!

Also she made grimace inducing food, it felt wasteful. I was negative and anxious.

I coped by nixing certain ingredients, demanding she clean up before and after and shutting the door and walking away (returning only to place dubious cake mixtures in the oven)

First her baking became edible. Then delicious. She never wrote anything down but seemed to remember which amounts and combinations went well. Then she began using recipes. Age 11 she could make a three course dinner for six. Age 12 she bakes the best brownies I have ever tasted.

 

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Use my Loaf: A Bread Making Tutorial.

Most weeks, most days I make my own bread. It is easy and gets rave reviews. Thanks to the (strong) white flour and a tip from Waitrose magazine, I’ve worked out how to make it with only a moment or two of kneading. It is not a flakey crusted, artisan sourdough but it is a bazillion times tastier than the average (even posh) supermarket loaf and it requires your active involvement for only 10 minutes. It turns simple suppers of soup or cheese and pickles into feasts and if you get the hang of it you can confidently add all sorts of ingredientst (my favourite is a hefty helping of dates and cinnamon for a musky, sweet loaf)

Let me show you how I do it:

All these amounts are approximate and therefore flexible, once you’ve made it a couple of times you won’t even need to refer to them.

1. A tablespoon of dried yeast, a teaspoon of sugar (or honey or molasses) and cup of tepid water. Leave them in a big bowl to party until they look like this:

2. Pour on two more cups of water and add about one kilo of flour and a heaped teaspoon of sea salt (Maybe try a bit less if you’re using table salt) Shake the bowl a bit and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for however long suits you: ten minutes with a cup of tea, or two hours down the shops. The gluten in the flour will start to leach out, saving you kneading time.

3. Bring it together in the bowl and give it a minimal squishy kneading, until it’s mixed together into one big doughy lump that’s not too sticky and looks a bit like this. Though if you’re worried, err on the side of wetness. Those little yeasty creatures need damp. Grab that tea towel again and leave the covered bowl for anything between an hour to overnight/overday.It will puff up and look like this.

4. Give it another minute of two of kneading to knock it back and then divide it into greased tins. Cover and leave for the usual 1-12 hours.

They will rise, don’t panic if it’s not by much.

5. Preheat oven 200 C. Pop in your loaves. Depending on the size of your loaves check them after 20/25 minutes. On top you need a warm golden brown, on bottom a hollow noise when you tap it with your knuckles. Leave out of the tins and propped up/on a wire rack to cool (or they’ll be soggy)

6. I wish I could be there with you but please send me any questions I would be very happy to offer more help. Once you feel like you are getting the hang of it you’ll find inspiration everywhere. Slosh in some olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and rosemary. Mash in those elderly bananas from the fruit bowl. Paint the top with beaten egg before it goes in the oven. Use milk not water. Sprinkle on or in some seeds. Add a handful or two of oats. It’s the combination of simplicity and freedom that keeps you interested. The satisfaction of creating something so ancient and so necessary will fill you up.