Something which often surprises visitors is that Tom and I do not keep bread in as standard. When we do have it in, it tends to be just enough for a specific meal and any left overs do not last for long. So when we had visitors to stay last weekend, I decided to be adventurous and make some fresh bread to have with lunch. I decided on the Essential White Loaf recipe from Nigella for which I had all the ingredients.
I was very careful to check that my yeast was in date, use warm water not ice cold and to knead for at least 10 minutes and then more. Making the bread was really quite soothing, and standing at the counter gently pummelling the dough was an excellent opportunity for quiet reflection and a bit of light stress relief. I felt quietly confident that when I got up in the morning to check on my dough it would be swollen and rounded, perfectly proven and ready to bake.
Nope. It had not grown even the slightest smidgen. But that was OK, my recipe book gave instructions for this eventuality and I left it out on the side for a few hours to allow it recover. We nipped out to run a few last minute errands before our guests turned up, and returned expecting to see it ready to go.
Nope. At this point I decide to give up and just shove it in the oven to see what would happen. I popped it in to bake for half an hour, and while it was cooking whipped up a quick Lemon Cake for afternoon tea. Yes, I will be posting on that later. The bread came out looking bread like, but no bigger than when it went in. In despair I tried to work out what had happened and turned to the only culprit I could imagine – the yeast. I got the tin back out of the cupboard and read the instructions on the back. Oh.
It turns out that this stuff is not your like your easy blend packet yeast. you can’t just bung it in and go. It requires activating in warm water first – you have to mix it in and let it get all foamy before it’s ready to use – who knew! So the next loaf I make I will do it properly, and see if it works any better. Nigella doesn’t recommend this yeast, but I might as well use it up as I have it, and I can always buy easy packets if it doesn’t work.
The final verdict on the bread was that it was edible, and the flavour was good, but it was just a little bit dense.