Sunday, 26 February 2012

February 26th - Bread of Heaven

Dear Nigel,

Been musing for a while about getting back to some serious regular Bread making. I have been there and done it three times before now, but making Bread -for me - is only something i can do when i am totally happy. (A bit like bad-tempered cooks not being able to make pastry.) This being an uphill battle, then, i find the only way to stop myself procrastinating any longer is to push myself into a position i can't back out of. So, i whittled away on the Internet and ordered two 25kg sacks of flour from Bacheldre Watermill in Wales.

Bacheldre Watermill is a fairly newcomer to the organic flour-milling business.Matt and Anne Scott have only been there since 2002 but already they have run up several Great Taste awards and others from the Soil Association. And recently they've also gone into partnership with Waitrose; but they remain a fairly small business. I've only bought flour from some of the bigger players before like Dove's farm, and also Shipton Mill, a more established supplier. But, having recently enjoyed using Bacheldre's Oak smoked malted blend flour, i was keen to give some of their other flours a go.

 With the sort of small child around who can sceptically spot anything nutritious at fifty paces, i had to go for a sack of white flour. At least it is organic, non-bleached and stoneground; and I'm hoping I'll gradually be able to introduce a percentage of other stuff up to the point they start rebelling. For the other members of the family looking for something more interesting, i opted for a sack of  malted five seed flour. This includes: - sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, golden linseed, sesame and fennel seeds.

The first sack arrived the following day, but the five seed one may take up to three weeks. However, Bacheldre have done a good deal with amazon and there is free delivery on most things, which, if i remember from before, made a heck of a difference. Got ourselves in the mood by taking the children round Caudwell's watermill at Rowsley. Very picture postcard and good for a bit of education, this is a old roller mill rather than using stones, and for display purposes only. I've used their flour before, and it is good flour, but it comes from a modern roller mill in Stockport and brought back out to be sold. Rather destroys the dream somewhat.

I won't be making your warm soused mackerel, not because it doesn't sound very nice, but because of its judicious use of Juniper berries - something which you 'can never get enough of ' . I have a particular aversion to this berry after one pheasanty recipe of Delia's nearly went the way of the dog. I would simply leave it out but am never quite sure how essential something is to a recipe - a bit like leaving stock out of the gravy.I like your use of Tarragon vinegar mixed with white wine to bake the fish in, though. There is something rather lovely about the taste of Tarragon vinegar. It is the one vinegar i choose to make myself when my poor little French Tarragon plant supplies enough of the stuff to make it worthwhile. It may not have survived this winter as i was without a greenhouse to put it in and it's not particularly hardy. The Russian sort, however, though much hardier and easy to grow, isn't worth the effort taste-wise.I tried the taste test once for myself, growing both varieties - sometimes these french chefs would cut their own noses off - but for once i had to admit they were definitely right: there is no comparison. The golden Delicious, however..proves not all good things come from France.


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