In 1977 there was a long bread strike in England. In some parts of the country one could pick up an expensive loaf from free-lance bakers; but I lived in a small town in Somerset and there was no alternative but to learn how to bake my own bread. I remember the first few times being serious disasters with an inedible product, but I eventually got the hang of it. Still, I was relieved when I could just pop down to the local store and get what I needed.
Fast forward thirty years. We live on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, home to a number of bakeries that are well-known and popular across the city — Fratelli’s, Uprising, Strawberry, Aran Spelt, and Pane Vero to name just a few. We’ve enjoyed bread from many of them over the years. But a few months ago, my bride started to bake her own version of Tuscan bread; most of the time we eat just that nowadays. It tastes good and the process makes the whole house smell magnificent.
Last week I came across the world’s most simple bread recipe — flour, yeast, salt and water. And best of all, no kneading is required! A lazy man’s dream. Last night I made the dough and this morning I cooked the loaf. It is great — very crusty on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, and with a clean straightforward taste. I’m pretty pleased with myself to be honest.