Sunday, 12 September 2010

Resurrecting Veronica

A few Sundays ago now, I woke up with this real strong urge to bake some bread. Which is unusual because normally my initial urge upon waking is to pass some vehement form of wind. After which I'll squint at the clock, roll over, pull the duvet over my head and gently prod my wife in the back because the kids are screaming from their cots, wanting to go downstairs. But on this particular day, the compulsion to knead dough and fill the kitchen with heavenly smells that soothe the nostrils rather than offend took precedent. As I am often in the habit of making bold declarations, my announcement to the household that I intended to bake kind of fell on deaf ears. The twins were far too engrossed by the antics of Mr Tumble, shoveling bananas into their little mouths and Mrs FU was dozily fumbling around with the coffee machine. So I jumped onto Twitter in the vain hope that out least one person out there would be interested in my plans. Almost immediately, Marky Market, the man who gets you meat, fish, whatever, tweeted a recipe link for an easy white loaf technique that seemed to be too easy to be true. OK so the recipe came from the Reverend of the Leaven himself, Dan Lepard but the notion of knocking up some dough and then giving it just a few quick 10 second bursts of kneading and then leaving it to prove didn't make any sense. The computer said no. Was it really that simple? The chorus from Twitter seemed to suggest it was and even Dan himself got in on the act with a communique that had a tone of "yes it does bloody work, just do it!"

So I did. I followed his instruction to the tee and blow me down, it worked. After very little effort I was rewarded with a simple but very tasty loaf of bread. And furthermore, it has lit a spark in me to do some more baking and I've knocked a fair few of them out since, ahem. I would love to get to a point where we eat nothing but home baked bread but alas time constraints of hectic family life don't allow it, even with a recipe as easy this. We still make visits to the supermarket to buy additive laden, plastic wrapped monster bread which does pain me but what can I do when tiny mouths scream "Toast Daddy! Want more toast!". Unless Dan Lepard can come up with an ingenious 30 second, all in, absolutely no messing about, bang, crash, whallop loaf. It would be great if he does.

However, something else has been weighing more heavily on my mind recently but still all connected to themes of baking, paternal duty, time and neglect. And that is the current state of my sourdough starter 'Veronica'. She is not looking good. Given the initial effort I put into making her and the ensuing fanfare on discovering that she actually worked, it's fairly disgraceful that Veronica has been left on the shelf at the back of the fridge, stewing in her own hooch. Actually before you get the RSPCS (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Starters) onto me, I have been using her quite regularly to bake sourdough and feeding her, she hasn't been totally abandoned. But I must admit, the last time I took her out of the fridge for refreshing was possibly.......erm......ah...well let's 4 months ago? On previous occasions, all it took was some pouring off, some fresh flour and water, a warm area, a repetition of the exercise a few times and boom, she would spring back into life. This morning however, looking at her listless, palid surface and her body, a slightly purplish, bloated mass of sodden gloop, Veronica now resembles some curious alien specimen, pickled in a Victorian jar. Is this the end? Have I in fact.......gulp.....killed her? God save my soul if I have but if anyone out there has any ideas on how to bring her back to life then I shall be indebited to you forever.

Help me Dan Kanobi, you're my only hope.

Dan Lepard's Easy White Loaf

Healthy Veronica

Unwell Veronica

I've killed her dammit *sob* I've killed her.........................hey neat chopping board

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