Saturday morning. 6am. I’ve been up for 45 mins because the bird song wakes me up. This is fine. I like the early mornings when everything is new and quiet.
I’m making bread. Later, we will have visitors and will need to feed eight. I’ve made sourdough several hundred times over the last four years. It is only later that I realise that, without the usual distraction of partner and children, my concentration has failed me and I put plain flour into the loaf instead of strong white.
What will happen? No-one seems able to tell me. I ask on Twitter and Facebook. No-one knows. I feel irritated, not because I think this is a mistake of giant proportions, but because my starter won’t be ready to use again for several hours. I guess that because plain flour – apparently – has less gluten, it will have less of a scaffold for the air bubbles to climb. Ergo the bread will be less raised, less ‘holey’. Worse things happen in Tesco.
I make the bread exactly as I always do, lots of little, light, kneads with increasing rests. I put it in the fridge and the next morning, Sunday, I take it out. Slash it and bake it.
This is what happens when you use plain flour instead of bread flour. Not nothing. Something. You get a beautiful bread that has more holes in it than one of Michael Gove’s speeches, and tastes wonderful.