Pane e amore

I’m really pleased with the loaves I’ve made so far. Whilst they may not all look as presentable as those I’ve bought in (proper, artisan, baker) shops, they’re really delicious. So delicious I have difficulty believing I’ve made them myself.

But the more I learn about sourdough, the more I realise it’s a bit like hi-fi’s (or whatever they’re called theseadays). You can get to the point where you finesse, finesse, finesse so much that you’re still going long past the point anyone else stopped caring.

I remember standing in a hi-fi shop with a hi-fi geek friend of mine, who was trying to show me the difference between one system (and we’re not talking those vertically racked systems, please, we’re talking individually bought and unmatching components) that cost £5K and one that cost £7K. “Can you hear the difference?” she asked.

No, I couldn’t. This is where I feigned an epileptic fit and asked to leave the shop.

There are a couple of questions I have at the moment about sourdough. I’ll have so many more, but at the moment a few are really bugging me. What I want is a really technical, but hand-holdy book (and if you know of one, please let me know) that will explain the science in a bit more detail than The Handmade Loaf.

And as I try to find these out on the web, I get more drawn into super-geek bread sites (trust me they make this look like Grazia) that make me feel like a miserable failure.

Even though, I have to remind myself, I think my bread is great and it does everything a good loaf should. It rises, it looks lovely and it tastes wonderful. What more could I want? At which point does it get good enough and people stop wondering if the addition of one extra ice cube will make for that super-perfect crust, or if they’d just turned the dough another 180 degrees during their crumb improvement proof, it would have had elongated holes to rival a natural sea-sponge.

Does it matter? I’m beginning to suspect it does. But I also want to scream at some of these sites and say:

“Are you shagging enough?” because surely you can’t be. I can’t believe anyone who is having enough sex can get that into bread.

And I include myself in this. But look. I have an excuse.

Must go now, have a loaf in the oven.

A completely gratuitous picture of Sofia Loren NOT baking bread.

5 thoughts on “Pane e amore

  1. Clare Davidson

    I love this post, really makes me laugh (and makes me want to come around and eat your bread!) but I always knew there must be a reason why I have never got round to making bread myself..

  2. Annalisa Barbieri

    Thanks for your lovely comments Clare and yes! You simply do not have time to make bread. Also bit worried it made it sound like I'm commenting on the on-line baker-friends I've made (and who have been so sodding helpful to me!). Not so! Those super-geek sites I parody above, are not like the lovely friendly sites that I go on regularly and are all helpful and normal.*wipes sweat from brow*

  3. Joanna

    Join with us, become one with the bread-Borg. Resistance is futile. You can still have sex. It's allowed. Friendly lot the breadheads, I think that's why I carried on doing it apart from the obsession which you may have noticed and strangely less competitive than the cake makers, though I shouldn't say that in public. x Jo

  4. Joanna

    And as to bread books, Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman has a lot more of the science in it and is a pretty good all rounder, though the layout of the book makes the formulae hard to work from. Tasteful hard to read brown print and flour coloured paper. Lots of people rate The BreadBakers Apprentice, but also very American and what we need is a British Baking book with a bit more science in it. Dan the Man is supposed to be bringing his out one of these days, but whether it will answer your needs remains to be seen. I would get the Hamelman and do battle with its inadequacies as a complement to HandMade Loaf.


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