How to make Bread

Having spent six weeks working the early morning shift in a bakery in Co Kilkenny last summer, I knew I was not cut out for night shifts. My love of baking remained intact.

It being Spring here in Corfu, I find myself again with the baking bug. Seldom do I pick up a recipe for the first time and have success. I have carried around on my travels a hardback book by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou called ‘How to make Bread’ and had never before made anything from it. I chose the cinnamon rolls recipe for no better reason than I had the right number of eggs and cinnamon in the cupboard. I was so happy with the result I wanted to record it and share if not the taste, then the experience.

My first attempt, the ‘pre ferment’, failed to rise after an hour and I weighed out a second amount. This seemed to double in size after the correct amount of time. The smell of the cinnamon made the process a pure pleasure. I kneaded the dough the requisite five times, then left it for an hour.

My failure with the first dough had lingered but I resisted the ‘useless’ label I was about to give myself. So I was like a mother seeing her child walk for the first time when I saw that the earlier dough did eventually rise. I had left it in its bowl on the radiator and my spirits rose with the dough.

You can almost smell the
cinnamon

It was sheer pleasure then to knock the air out of the dough and lay it on the counter, baste it with beaten egg and sprinkle cinnamon over it.

Rolling it up and cutting it into whirls was easy peasy and fitting them into a floured tin was novel. The idea is that they merge into one another but they are suppose to again double in size, before baking. That was not happening quickly and I was tempted to put them in the oven which I had heated up but I thought fondly of the first batch which just needed time to rise. I turned off the oven and decided to wait. It was in any event the time of day to attend the cafeneion for a little something, given all the kneading and rising time I had devoted to my precious dough.

Back from the local, my patience was rewarded. The whole pan was now tightly packed with cinamonny, sugary rolls.

I lit the oven again and in fifteen minutes exactly, my triumph was complete. They looked great as they were, but better with melted butter basted on top. Not sure if the icing sugar improved the look, but the inside was perfection, if I say so myself, and I will say so because this whole post is a boast. Here’s to lazy, perfect Sundays when the dough rises.

A Bird's Eye view

It was a dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night and the pirates huddled round and said ‘Cap’n – tell us a story’ The captain took a seat at the fire and began -‘It was a dark and stormy night…’

The thunder crashed and the rain fell in torrents. My life evolved into the perfect storm both metaphorically speaking and in reality. And yes, I had a few glasses of wine before anyone thinks of that. It is hard to escape the village of Gardylades, perched on the side of a mountain, without partaking of some hospitality, especially on a night like that.

Reaching home successfully, I collected some wood to keep the fire going
fed the dogs and bedded them down for the night. I noticed two things at this point,- the broadband had gone down and I could not find my set of keys which I had used to open the door of the house. I decided I would look for them in the morning.

All that night, the storm raged, with lightning flashing and thunder crashing overhead very soon afterwards. I woke frequently and at one point, I heard the lightning making a zap that disabled the cooker and the water pump. When I woke in the morning, I found I still had light, so I was only lacking in cooking facilities, water and broadband. Then I remembered the keys. I conducted a thorough search of the premises, as they would say on Crimline, to no avail. I wandered dejectedly up and down to the woodshed, eyes on the ground, while the rain continued to pour.

Luckily, there was a spare key to the jeep, which I found and used. I developed a theory that one of the dogs had picked up the keys and run off with them. This turned out to be wrong but it didn’t stop me developing a habit of walking round the garden with my eyes on the ground, seeking a glint of metal. Not only was the jeep key on it, but the back door and my BMW keys were on the same keyring. As a background note, I had, the Friday before, used the wrong PIN number for my card and was dipping into emergency cash while I waited for a new number to issue.

By the end of the day, I had the water and cooker and water sorted out and a new modem for broadband installed. But still no sign of the keys. I rang my friend and gave her my theory about the dogs and another theory that I could have thrown them in the fire when I put a log on it before going to bed. She scoffed at both and I had to agree that they were highly unlikely.

I was left feeling distraught and upset. But at least I could drive and everything was working, the PIN number issue being sorted. The days went by and the owners of the house commissioned a Greek man called Eddy to erect a new fence around the garden to keep the dogs in. He asked me would I move the Beemer. I told him the keys were lost and could he keep an eye out. A week went by and Eddy and his lads dug holes which they filled with concrete and got on with the fencing. One Saturday morning, with the sun shining so I could sit out and wait for the sun to come round to the hammock side, I noticed two burnt pieces of metal on the outside table. I picked them up and realised they were naked keys with the plastic melted off.

I ran to where Eddy and his lads were – ‘ Ah Katerina- I found them in the ashes where you had emptied them.’ His look said it all- how could anyone be so dim? Alas, the Beemer keys did not survive and I have had to order a new set.

Was it Victor Frankel who said it is not what happens to you in life but how you react to it? I have been putting that piece of advice to good use. But I still walk around vaguely looking for something on the ground. I never had the satisfaction of seeing them again so I think the failing synapses in my brain, the same ones that made me forget my PIN number, haven’t yet made the necessary connection.

It was a dark and stormy night and the pirates huddled round and said ‘Cap’n tell us a story’. The Captain threw his keys into the fire and said – ‘It was a dark and stormy night….’