Just caught up with the first instalment of the new Paul Hollywood series on BBC2. I’ve been baking my own bread for about six months and, I think, getting steadily better at it. Lunches in the respective offices in our house often comprise homemade soup (courtesy of the bidey-in) and my homemade bread. And they rock. Mightily. If we manage to resist consuming the whole thing as soon as it’s cool enough to eat, a loaf lasts us 3-4 days. Which means I’m making a loaf once or twice a week. Most often I do this on a Sunday.
All of which is very pleasant and by-the-by, but the point of talking about this on the blog is this: baking bread is pretty much the ideal cooking activity for the writer. The rhythm of it is perfect. 20 mins mixing and kneading (and thinking about what you’re going to write), then 1-2 hours proving allows you to get down to the keyboard. Once the dough’s proved you can then knock it back and shape it, and then go back to the keyboard for another hour or so before finally sticking the thing in the oven. 30-40 mins cooking, a quick break to take it out and get it on the rack and then another half hour to cool, and you end your Sunday afternoon having had 4 hours writing and can reward your industry with a slice of your freshly baked loaf. Superb.
You just have to remember to wash your hands. You really don’t want to be getting dough down the cracks of your keyboard.