The Moroccans seal the lids on their tagines with this mixture, infant school kids use this to knock up an improv glue – flour and water, mix ‘em together and much stickiness results. Splodge, plop, gloop.
We all know this, almost intuitively perhaps, so what is it that makes us forget?
Take out your bread making recipe and get stuck in, and very quickly you’re going to be up to your wrists in it. Splodge, plop, gloop.
After texting my eldest daughter a breadmaking recipe the other day (she was filling out her lockdown time wisely, eh…) she quickly shot back: “Is it meant to be this sticky?!😲”
Absolutely it is. Flour and water, mix them together… Splodge, plop, gloop. It’s inevitable. And you kind of know it.
And so, what we lack in familiarity of the breadmaking process we can make up for in developing some faith that if the recipe we are using is reliable and we have followed it accurately, then that’s how the dough should be at this stage in the process.
Faith that over the next 15-30 minutes the initial stickiness will transform to a coherent elasticity as the gluten develops.
It’s the classic schoolboy error in the home baker’s kitchen: throwing flour at a sticky dough in an attempt to make it more manageable. But all we are doing is fundamentally changing a perfectly good recipe, turning what should be a vital dough into a piece of clay. When we put clay in the oven, a brick is the result. Which we then eat in solitude as the rest of the family tucks into the industrial loaf – the whole reason we embarked on this infernally frustrating endeavour in the first place. I know, I’ve been there, man… I’ve been there.
Don’t be scared. Wetter is better goes the artisan baking sector’s slogan. Splodge, plop, gloop. Have faith.
Amazing bread is here, in your very own kitchen.