For my mind, Elizabeth David was to the UK (and possibly Australia) what Julia Child was to the US. In her revered classic, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, Ms David inspired me in one simple paragraph:
"...The only remedy for those who want genuine wholesome bread, and surely the wish is not a cranky one, is the same as it has always been. It must be made at home. And why not? In one of the most reassuring sentences to be found in any cookery book Mr and Mrs Scurfield sweep away all misgivings. 'The great thing about baking with yeast,' they say, 'is the difficulty of failure. ' Exact measurements are not important, a draughty kitchen is no deterrent. No mystery is attached to the kneading of dough...."
And with that paragraph, Ms David has sent me off on a bread making journey of discovery. Ms David wrote those words in 1955 and while these days we are really spoilt for choice with many excellent breads - there is something so satisfying about making your own bread. It is also something common amongst all cultures and a tradition that can be shared.
From an early age I recall my mother making up loaves of wholesome 70s style wholemeal bread (complete with the pumpkin seeds). For my husband, his memories are of the delicious bread baked in an open wood fired oven by his Italian neighbour and dear family friend - not too mention the delights of new-baked bread fresh from the communal baker's oven in his families home villages back in Greece.
To start off with, I thought I would share with you a lovely bread - not common to either of our cultural backgrounds, but it definitely has a starring role on our shared brunch table. It is hugely simple to make (as Ms D said - you can't go wrong with yeast) and it is best served with beautiful fresh fruits. In summer you might like to serve it with a salsa of mango, passionfruit, lychees, lime and some vanilla flavoured Greek yoghurt. Come autumn this bread is equally divine with lovingly poached spiced figs or slow cooked quince. I hope you enjoy - and I'll be sharing lots more of my bread making discoveries with you soon!!