Baking bread has become my obsession for 2012, every weekend so far has seen me kneading flour until my arms hurt with mixed results.

I love the magical process where this strange brown coloured stuff called yeast somehow makes flour rise and stretch
 
I love the anticipation during the first and second prove of whether it will turn out as you hope
 
I love the smell of fresh bread baking and watching through the oven door as the crust forms
 
But most of all I love EATING bread
 

However as I mentioned here I had a new recipe to try last weekend that hopefully was going to solve all my issues. I’ve used a few so far, including one from the Great British Bake Off that just didn’t work for me. They didn’t rise properly or the lacked flavour or they simply didn’t look very good. So I asked on Twitter and the fabulous Bye Bye Birdie shared with me her fail self technique. (Do take a look at her site, beautiful photos and she makes some fabulous baby clothes).

IMAG0407-001I won’t reproduce the recipe but it’s a Jamie Oliver one that can be found here. I think the best tip Bye Bye Birdie gave me was to mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water and leave for a few minutes before mixing into the flour. It really kick starts the yeast and made a massive difference to how much the loaf rose. By the time I tipped the yeasty water into the flour it had begun to bubble away nicely.

I made one batch of this and it provided 2 pretty large loaves as you can see, if you wanted to make them just in a loaf tin it would easily stretch to 3 if not 4 loaves. They won’t keep for long as there are no preservatives added like in shop bought bread, so best to freeze what you won’t eat in a couple of days.

DSC_0074-001Feeling inspired by this baking and the Fabulous Baker Brothers earlier last week (who I would like to point out were one of my food heroes back in June 2011, you might almost say I discovered them J) I then made pizza on Sunday. I love proper thin and crispy pizzas from Northern Italy but have never been able to get anywhere close at home.

I love in their recipe that you blind bake the pizza bases first before adding the topping.  Such a clever idea and perfect for getting a nice

crispy base. The recipe made 8 base’s so we ate 3 and froze the rest. Now all we have to do is grab one out of the freezer and add some topping. It takes less than 5 minutes to cook the topping so is amazing fast food and full of fresh healthy ingredients. Sure it takes a bit of love and time to get the base’s made but really the activity is in 10 minute bursts with a few hours proving in between.

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We had parma ham, mushroom and mozzarella this time with a few small pieces of chorizo added for extra flavour. But my favourite all time topping is a Margherita base with shaved parmesan, parma ham and rocket on top. Yum!

So there you have it some fabulous baking and now that I have a good bread recipe the experimentation can start with different flours, seeds etc. I also have ‘wood fired pizza oven’ on the requirements list for our next house purchase.

P.S I’m linking up with Reluctant House Dad’s recipe shed with this post, to see more fabulous recipes check out his page here.