Sunday, 20 July 2014

Too darn hot!

No, this isn't a post about the hot weather that we're experiencing here in the U.K, it's way more convoluted than that. Just stay with me…
Andrew and I both enjoy the Rick Stein food travel programmes and we've been re-watching the Spain series on the BBC iPlayer. One of the things he's been raving about is Spanish bread, those lovely crusty, chewy loaves with the big holes. Like this:
So I went in search of a recipe and this one from the Hairy Bikers seemed to fit the bill, promising chewiness and that slightly sourdough taste I was after. I'm a competent bread maker and love baking so off I went, making the starter in advance, kneading & stretching, stretching & kneading. It looked and smelled good when it came out of the oven but I was disappointed. It tasted great but it didn't have the holes and chewiness I wanted. So if anyone out there has a perfect recipe or technique tips then please let me know.

Looks OK
Not what I'd hoped

All this watching of Spanish food put me in mind of my brief recce into Andalusian property that I undertook at the beginning of the year (remember all that cold,wet weather we had? I was drawn to the sunshine and colours of the south). Was I wrong to be considering northern France? Was my heart really in the olive and orange groves of Spain? One town that I had really fallen for was Iznajar, a pretty town by a lake, good for tourism and a great location. I had another look and found this for €55,000 (£45500 at current exchange rates) in excellent condition. Who could resist?

Iznajar property for sale

I started to persuade myself that we could sell up, buy a couple of properties to rent out and live a simple life in the sunshine. Sunshine I thought - what's the weather like there now?

At 7 p.m. - yes it's in centigrade
At this point my dreams fell apart, there's no way I could live here. Anything over 25c I start to go limp,  I can't do it. I really think I'm just a northern European at heart. I stopped my Andalusian property search and went back to Montreuil, so much nicer. So there we have it, just too darn hot.

Talking of hot, Mortimer cooled off on the beach the other evening. Anyone want to give a home to this horrible hound?

Wet & sandy - but happy!


  1. How interesting! I've never come across the sort of bread you describe in Spain, and in fact had Spain down as a 'can't do bread' nation. I'll have to extend our travels there. Change of flour might help? I usually find sourdough starters improve over time, and give much more impressive results after a week or two. Ask Kalba. Her partner is the Bread-Making King.

    1. Are you two psychic? I've definitely had this type of bread in Spain, may be it's a southern Spain thing. Or possibly the islands? Andrew spent a lot of time in Mallorca as a child.

  2. And as if by magic ... here she is :)
    I've had a look at your bread recipe, Sharon, and sadly I don't think it has a cat in hell's chance of producing an authentic rustico! To do that, you really need to start with a proper (as in captured) sourdough starter rather than using yeast (and certainly not fast acting yeast). It's perfectly possible to capture a starter in Norfolk - we started several - then just keep it going by keeping back a bit of your dough each time. It'll get better, and you should easily be able to produce the kind of stretchy, hole-y loaf that you're after. Tell you what, when I have a mo I'll post about sourdough on our recipe blog!
    By the way, like Margaret I've never managed to find good bread in Spain!

    1. You're a star! Now I'm off with my butterfly net in search of the elusive sourdough!

  3. I'm no baker but there was something on Week3 of the Great British Bake Off, when they made ciabtta, where Paul Hollywood (he of the piercing ice blue eyes - I'm convinced they're contact lenses) said that if the bakers didn't do "something" they wouldn't get big holes, which are integral to ciabatta - and presumably to your Spanish rustic bread. Not being a breadmaker I didn't pay much attention, but I THINK it was leaving the dough to prove for longer than you might think. He did say that "being patient" was the key to good ciabatta. However - I wouldn't really know. I only watch GBBO for the food porn!

    1. Thank you! I've just been given the Hugh bread book so I'm going to try a sourdough starter. If I add some patience it might work! And as for food porn I don't by recipe books for the recipes anymore - just the writing and the photographs :-)