Oh no, the Covid Craze is almost over, and I haven't even made bread yet! Perfect opportunity to catch up on it, as we're finishing up the food reserves, while getting ready to leave the property for the season after a successful eco-build. And one thing we still have lots of, are bags of flour.
Lessons from an Expert
The one among us who really has her baking game up, is Julia. For one loaf she suggested half a kilo (or a pound) of flour. Then she eyeballed in some salt and yeast powder, and instructed me to get my hands into it.
"Give it a good dry mix, you know, just like how you were doing it with the sand and cement."
Once it was all well mixed she added a bit of water. It seemed to get lost in the bowl of powder, but I started squeezing it into a paste. Eventually the paste had to take up the rest of the flour. Julia showed me the proper way of kneading it, and soon I had a nice loaf of dough in the bowl. I even rubbed all the remaining pieces from my hands, and kneaded it all in.
"See, it didn't need any more water. For pizza sure, and for spianata even more. But for bread you want a hard dough."
With a knife she cut into the top of the dough, and told me to let it rise.
"Though it actually doesn't even matter, with this chemical yeast. Here you can't get the live yeast we use at home in Italy. It needs to be fed and used daily, but since we all like to eat bread or pizza..."
The Actual Part of Baking
The remaining steps were quite straight forward, at least in theory: Heat up the oven at full blast for about ten minutes, then set it down to 180°C and put the bread in for 20 minutes.
Certainly! Except, on our oven button there are no indications to be seen, and if you look at the gas flame you'll see that turning the knob doesn't make much of a difference.
Somehow I still managed to find a "simmer" setting, so I felt good about not burning the bread. It may take a bit longer than 20 minutes, though. Before I put it in to bake, I smeared the whole dough top and bottom with a good layer of olive oil.
In the end, it took me about an hour and a half in the oven, but it came out nicely. I'm quite satisfied.