Moving on with the next stage of my baking challenge, we came to bread week. In series one of the Great British Bake-Off, Edd was the star of bread week, and some of the other men mentioned they baked bread frequently and thought they’d have the edge. Bread and cake, Paul and Mary, yin and yang…baking bread as opposed to cakes is what is often seen as dividing the men from the women. I guess baking bread can be considered more masculine than fairy cakes, though I tend to see baking as gender neutral, because I have never known a man to turn down a cupcake.
Bread is where quite a number of Bake-Off competitors seem to stumble, at least in the first two series, when people signed up because they baked cakes quite a lot – but the Bake-Off really stretches one’s range. Anyway, bread baking is something I do quite a lot of – I would probably stumble on macaron week rather than bread. Which is not to say it never goes wrong (how well I remember that loaf which was completely liquid once its crusty and appealing crust was cracked in to). Still, I have nurtured sourdough starters, until I realised the demands of making a loaf every week or so exceeded the demands of a two-person household, and I have baked using fresh and dried yeast. Now that I have located a source of fresh yeast in London (I buy little packets of it from Scandi Kitchen, along with my pearl sugar), I do feel that breads made with fresh yeast are more delicious than those made with dried, which often taste quite yeasty to me, as if too much has been used. The texture is also better, to my taste. It’s undeniable that dried yeast is more convenient and readily-available, however, and the end product is certainly better than shop-bought even when using dried yeast.