I've become a bit of a bread obsessive. I don't know whether it's the triumph of my barm loaf the other week or reading Jane Mason's All you Knead is Bread and Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf just before I fall asleep at night, or simply that I've got a bit more time on my hands at the moment, but I've definitely got the bug. I'm even thinking of making a sourdough starter - yep, things are getting serious.
I've started stalking all sorts of artisan bakers on Twitter too. There seems to be something intrinsically lovely about a baker - they are all terribly generous with their comments and advice, and invariably make nice comments about my amateurish efforts. Many of them are also very inspirational - especially the people who are making good bread for people in their local area, or who are teaching others to make bread. People like Elizabeth Mahoney at One Mile Bakery in Wales, Blackbird Bread in London and Edesia's Kitchen in Derbyshire. I think they must get all the bad karma out with lots of serious kneading in the early hours, although I was disabused of the notion that they are all listening to soothing hippy music in the wee small hours by Blackbird Bread, who tells me that Leonard Cohen is too soporific for early morning kneading. My soundtrack is usually either screeching children or Eddie Mair - must find myself some other sounds to knead to - any suggestions gratefully received.
Anyway, this week's loaf is a cider loaf. I've read a few recipes for bread using apples and/or cider, so I thought to start with I'd simply substitute the beer in the barm loaf with cider and see how that went. Well the answer seems to be - fine! I only have one photo of the completed loaf as I seem to have managed to set my camera to take a movie of a loaf of bread, which is not that riveting, to be honest.
The poolish looks thinner than the one I made with beer, and the final loaf seems a little bigger. Inside it is soft and lovely. It tastes sweeter than the barm loaf made with beer - less of a beery tang, although it still has that lovely smell. Now, I am going to say something a bit heretical here. I made some cream of tomato soup to go with it for dinner last night (that's not the heretical bit). When I was little, Heinz cream of tomato soup was our 'get well' meal when we'd been poorly, and we ate it, as one did in the 1970s, with white sliced bread. Well, my cider loaf with tomato soup gave me a complete flashback to that - something about the softness of the bread (what smallest breakfastboy would call 'bread that's soft like a mouse') and the sweetness of the flavour reminded me of being all comforted and cosied by my mum and a tin of soup. By this, I do not mean that the bread tasted like sunblest, heaven forbid. Just that it's a comforting sort of soft and squishy loaf. It also makes fabulous toast.
I think next week I might try the apple and oat loaf from Dan Lepard's Handmade Loaf. But that requires a leaven, so I'm going to have to get a starter going first. Stay tuned!