Like most twelve year olds, I wanted to fit in. It all changed (and how!) once I was thirteen, but twelve? I wanted the Stussy t-shirt, the perm, and the schoolbag every other girl at my conservative Catholic school had.
It’s hard to fit in at lunch time when everyone has white bread sandwiches and your dad with whom you stay half the week has made you onigiri as big as your head though. It seems laughably naive now in these days of sushi sophistication but whatISthatblackstuffohmygod SEAweed? Ewww.
I would have jumped with alacrity at a sandwich made of this: pain bouillie.
It’s brown without being overly so. It has a subtle, nutty sweetness. It’s homely in the nicest possible way. Slathered with butter or not, warm from the oven, toasted or plain sliced, once you have a bite – you’re hooked.
Now – and probably even then – I know my lunch was far more delicious than theirs – rice doesn’t go soggy when filled the way day-old sandwich bread does but I think this sturdy loaf would stand up to even a day in a school bag without much ill-effect.
Even if you’re not a baker of bread, try this on a rainy day. The sense of achievement will be immense, and for such little outlay. You do have to hang around for 4 hours or so but the actual hands-on time is only about half an hour. Plus everyone in the house will think you’re awesome. True story – it happened to me.
What did you do to fit in at school?
Pain Bouillie, adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
Bread recipes often say “knead until elastic” which with non-white flour hardly ever happens and also “leave to double in size.” When you look at it, it’s hard to tell if it has really doubled because measuring volume by eye is difficult unless you’re good at doing 3-D imaging in your head. Don’t worry too much, if you leave it in a place which has a constant temperature of about 21 degrees celsius and no breeze, and it shows signs of having risen, the yeast has probably done its job.
The night before, mix:
225 grams (2 cups) rye flour
450 ml (1 3/4 cups) boiling water
5 ml (1 teaspoon) honey
in a medium bowl, cover with cling-film and leave for 12 hours in a warm place.
For the dough
7 grams fresh yeast dissolved in 30 ml (2 tablespoons) warm water (or you can use rapid rise in which case you don’t need to dissolve it)
1 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds
10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
350 grams (3 cups) unbleached white bread flour
Grease a 10 x 30 x 7 cm loaf tin with olive oil.
Stir the yeast mixture or rapid rise yeast, salt and caraway seeds into the rye porridge.
Add the bread flour bit by bit until a firm dough forms.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently for 6-8 minutes until smooth. (For me, it never became particularly elastic as dough should but it turned out well nevertheless).
Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling-film and put in a warm place for an hour and a half or until it has nearly doubled in size.
Turn out onto the floured surface again and punch down.
Cut the dough into 2 pieces and roll them both into rectangles roughly the size of the bottom of your loaf tin.
Fold the bottom third up over the middle third and the top third down over the other two so that you have a small rectangle, three widths thick and pinch the edges together a bit.
Turn over and put the 2 little loaves into the loaf tin.
Cover loosely with oiled cling-film and leave to rise for another hour or until the top of the dough nearly reaches the top of the tin.
Quarter of an hour before you are ready to put them in, preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (425 fahrenheit).
Brush the top of the loaves with olive oil and slash the middle 6 cm of each lengthwise with a 1 cm cut.
Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 degrees celsius (375 fahrenheit) and bake another 25 minutes or until the bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when knocked.
Cool on a wire rack.