Thursday, 29 April 2010

Dough Oh Dear*

I've seen a recipe for an oat and cranberry loaf that I'm dying to try. But when?

There are certain baking endeavors that are so time-consuming, and demand such a level of constant attention that finding the time is a real challenge. One really does have to commit to a day spent, if not literally in the kitchen, in close enough proximity to return for kneading, prodding and just general staring-intently-at-the-dough purposes. Yeast-based products fall into this category, as does - in my case, at least - pastry.

Pastry is something of a thorn in my side; as much as I love the idea of a light and delicate crust enveloping some luscious filling, I make excuses to myself not to attempt it. This is largely due to the fact that whenever I've given it a go, the results have generally been underwhelming. And as much as I'm sure that if I 'praactise praactise praactise', as Vera-Ellen is urged to do repeatedly by her European dance teacher in the Stanley Donen musical 'On The Town', I never quite feel the inclination to waste precious baking time on a project that may well disappoint and frustrate.

I love to crash around in my kitchen making things, so when an opportunity arises to do so, I'd rather have fun than spend the time pondering why only half a pastry dish is covered, despite an almost OCD'ish attention to the detail of the recipe, and why the dough is the approximate thickness of a carpet rather than a dainty sliver. Quite recently I made a pear tart with a chocolate crumble topping - a delicious, sticky mess of a thing but definitely lacking the patisserie-style finesse that I was hoping for.

However, over Easter I made some heavenly hot cross buns, and on this occasion must admit that I actually relished the challenges that each stage presented - starting the night before with soaking the flour and yeast in stout with a myriad of spices. But they took all day. I confess: Eli missed his football training in the morning, and Caleb had to find his own way back from a party because I just couldn't tear myself away. I heartlessly put my own culinary needs before the social lives of my children. The result was worth the effort though - they were perfection ( And admittedly the sense of achievement was immense (the dodgy mobile photo really doesn't do them justice, trust me.)

So with a bank holiday looming, maybe I'll give that loaf a go. What the hey - I've got nothing better to do, after all.

*With apologies to Julie Andrews.

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