Rugby and Baking Bread …

When I was in England, I owned a bread maker. Cumbersome, bulky and noisy, it did however produce, with very little input from Yours Truly, a magnificent loaf.

Imagine for a moment if you will, the smooth, mellow smell of freshly baked bread drifting from room to room; Can you hear the blade of the knife cracking through the crust? Can you see the sharp crumbs exploding outwards before the knife finally reaches the air-filled soft pillow of bread lying within? And the silky butter glistening, sliding and melting into the billowing warmth until finally one’s salivating mouth can savour and devour the taste, the texture, the pure heaven of a simple slice of bread and butter?

From this, I trust you have deduced that I love bread.

With delights and joy such as this, is hardly surprising 12 million loaves are sold every day and that entire books have been written about baking a loaf of bread. And yet, since living here in New York, I have tasted only one good loaf and it cost just shy of 7 dollars. “7 dollars?!” I hear you screech … yes. It used to make me screech too, now I just whimper and close my eyes as I painfully hand over a ten dollar bill. Don’t even bother work out how much that it in pounds. It’s simply, a lot. There is cheaper bread, but it is grim, partly due to the excessive sugar content. So, because I am essentially tight, I bought an american bread maker, flour and yeast, and for the next consecutive ten days I made a loaf of bread. Surely in the long run, this would be more cost effective? Apparently not. Ten days, ten disasters.

Dropping a loaf of bread with the consistency and weight of a London brick makes quite a noise as it travels at speed down 49 floors in a refuse chute. The crashes, rattles and hollow echoes boom way their way down to the basement. Another disappointment. Another bread-making disaster.

The Colonel raises an eyebrow at the latest effort, a twitch of a smile faintly teasing at his lips. “No toast for breakfast then?” He tentatively asks, looking at the gnarled solid body of inedible, semi-cooked flour in my hands. I harrumph and turn to go to the refuse chute at the end of the corridor once more.

“I could use this thing to sodding knock you out,” I mutter, clutching my loaf.

“And half of Manhattan,” he snorts with laughter.

On his return from a trip to London, he brings me presents. Amongst the other more romantic trinkets, there is a kilogram bag of strong bread flour and some yeast. He is nothing if not eternally hopeful and practical. The flour is Canadian, the yeast British. I try again.

Loaf number eleven I could smell as I woke. I don’t do jumping out of bed for fear of dislocating something, but this morning was the exception. A little jump and consequently having to limp to the kitchen, I peered through the viewing window of the bread maker. Dear God it worked! Hallelujah!

It is not perfection, but with a little help from Britain and Canada, I have made my first half decent loaf of bread. The Colonel and my son are still asleep having been up all hours watching some rugby which apparently was quite important. They have since gone back to their respective beds looking dour.

I wonder if the prospect of bacon sarnies for breakfast will raise the mood. One minor issue if I’m having to import flour and yeast, I suspect my loaf of bread is probably going to cost significantly more than 7 dollars …. hmmm. Might need to have a re-think.

Katie x

35 thoughts on “Rugby and Baking Bread …”

  1. It bread, tea, milk and chocolate that defines the taste of England isn’t it? Other things we can make do with, but these are my comfort food. I feel your pain!
    Can you get an Amazon order from the UK?

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    1. Oh it is! And they just don’t have the same ginger biscuits either … this is a tragedy for me! I’ve tried with Amazon and ended up in such a pickle … getting all mixed up with the Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and Amazon Prime which I thought I needed in order to buy things from Amazon Pantry ….. ohhh I’m in such a muddle with it all!! I’ve had to delete the app completely and set it all up again and then it gets confused with the UK bank card and where it’s registered . 😰😰😰😱 On and on it goes! Honestly … I do think I’m quite a simple soul and it’s all quite a challenge! Thanks so much for reading and yes, I shall try again with Amazon … maybe on my husbands iPad this time! Katie 💕

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    1. Thank you! The bread this morning was a distinct improvement … not perfect (if you’re British and watch The Great British Bake Off, I certainly wouldn’t be getting a handshake from Paul Hollywood!). Thanks for reading and tolerating! Katie

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  2. Katie, I think there are both Facebok and especially Reditt groups that talk all about making bread with bread making machines….local groups for you even. Check it out and good luck! 👍💜

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  3. What, the nation famous for the culinary delights of McDonalds and KFC can’t provide you with decent flour and yeast? I. Am. Shocked.

    Seriously, lovely descriptive writing about the delights of bread. We’ve had a breadmaker for perhaps five years, probably longer, now on our second model as the first finally rusted through at the bottom! I favour a spelt loaf with added sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and brown linseed, but the rest of the family usually have plain white.

    Now and then we make a loaf or rolls by hand though, it’s harder work but equally tasty. Maybe the breadmaker isn’t that great? But if it’s the ingredients, then you’re never going to have a good result.

    Is it possible to source ingredients from the bakery you found the $7 loaf at? Or a similar local(ish) bakery that does make decent bread? There must be some Europeans over there with some knowledge and heritage in fine baking!

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    1. I am shocked too! I think the bread maker is ok as it’s the American version of the one we had in the U.K. It must be something to do with the ingredients. Grrrr … very frustrating! I love that you too have a bread maker .. I have to confess however that I’ve never tasted spelt bread … what’s in it or not in it?? That’s a good idea about the $7 loaf. It was from a stall at a market which they have in Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesdays. As you say, I could go and ask them. Good plan … they might well tell me! As for the other Europeans … it’s hilarious! I meet a lot of them because of my husband’s work and they talk about bread in the same way that we Brits talk about the weather! It’s a constant source of discussion … 😄. I’m going to give your idea a try though as I think it’s definitely worth a shot. Thanks

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  4. Oh my sympathies Katie, I used to have a breadmaker in UK made wonderful bread as it is difficult to find good bread there too. Also I have allergies to all the chemicals in the nationwide bread. Urgh the bread here has artificial sweetner in it and some has fenugreek (very fattening) so I do not eat bread occasionally I make soda bread. I have heard there is a Syrian baker who makes good bread so I will venture out to find them, love good tasting bread.

    Good luck with the search for a good loaf and lots of fun with your breadmaker. You will succeed as it is your nature not to be beaten.

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  5. Well, I can happily announce that I’ve finally caught up on ALL your posts! I had a Betty-Binge on Saturday morning. I have not pressed the LIKE button for any of them though, because if I did, you would have been bombarded with a myriad of notifications – all with my name on. That is also why I refrained from adding any comments too.

    Alas, I have conquered the bread-making drudgery by ditching my machine and doing it by hand. The bloomin thing had a 3 hour cycle and if you accidentally switched it off at the wall (or had a power cut) it would reset itself, no matter if you had been at the browning stage! Can you imagine it trying to re-knead a fully cooked loaf? I’m surprised people haven’t had them explode, rendering hot fragments of metal onto the draining board.

    Anyhow, I knead until my fingers hurt (3 mins usually) then re-knead 3 more sessions, then plonk it in. Comes out fine and there’s no trauma of biting into a paddle and breaking all your teeth and jaw, and there’s no stupid, gaping big hole on the underside where the paddle was yanked out with a metal rod.

    I made olive buns last week and they were delicious! I’ll send you some in the post, though I rather suspect the whole bun would look like a giant olive by the time it reaches Manhattan.

    Another fab post! Keep them coming! xxx

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    1. Oh wow! Ok so you are now on my baking ‘pedestal’ … you just make it sound so easy! I’m just not entirely sure that I have the patience for all that kneading … is there a lot of waiting for it to prove? Actually it might be really therapeutic. I think you’re onto something here! Xxx

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  6. Yay… well done, you’ve succeeded, how exciting. They have Allison’s Strong white bread flour on Amazon.com Katie…it certainly won’t be the cheapest bread in NYC but I sure it will be the tastiest without a doubt. Happy baking xx

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      1. Now you’ve tackled the American bread maker and are producing loaves that Paul Hollywood would admire , or nearly, I’m sure you can tackle Amazon..,grit your teeth and go for it girl ……🍀

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  7. Luckily in France we have so many flours but I too want to make some English loaves. I miss toast and marmalade. Luckily we have a British Shop that visits Blighty monthly and brings back ginger biscuits, Jelly Babies, tea, custard etc. Some things in life you have to have.

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    1. Ohhhh – Jelly Babies! I’d forgotten about them. The black ones are the best! You know about the addictive relationship I have with ginger biscuits – I can’t understand how a country can exist without them! Are you near to shops or in the middle of the countryside where it takes a while to get to one … any tips on living in France welcome as ever. We’re looking south east (ish) of Bordeaux. Anything you wish you’d considered before buying?? Katie x

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      1. Well we are in the countryside, very rural but luckily have access to town and motorway in just 5 mins, so great location. I get my Jelly Babies from a local British shop. I like the green ones. I miss so many things hete. And honestly I don’t like all the packet food the French have. They are obsessed by prepacked stuff. Can’t buy a decent ham to boil nor large bags of rice etc. I love ginger biscuits. On a mission to make my own once kitchen done.

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      2. In answer to property..rural is good but you need access to a small town ideally for basics, doctor, petrol or every day your spending 40 mins minimum driving to just deal with day to day life. Or you go for isolated but have to be organized. And once you get older you might have to sell up. We have already sorted how we will deal with thst milestone.
        Cost of buying with tones of work to do versus something done, ie roof on, new septic tank as now compulsory to follow SPANC rules, drainage done. All these items cost a lot in France as done by different contractors. Might be better doing the maths and get a deal on a property in better condition and less work. We chose to restore because we do it ourselves.
        Neighbours…see if there is potential for a neighbour from hell to mess your dreams up. We are in cow pastures and they have to be resold to farms and our other places we own all the land around the buildings enough to have no neighbours nearby. 2 hectares at the farm and only cow’s beyond means peace and quiet.
        Access with vehicles.. some houses have no where to park and that can be a pain. Obscure pockets of land. Ideally have a use for all land you get. Often agents don’t realise properties come with “extra” pieces just down the road…Can be free almost or are costing you but have little viable use. Just some ideas. Use the brocantes to furnish.. furniture stores here are silly money. Artisan work often means overpriced. Shop around. X

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