People often preach the virtue of “less is more” but I think there is merit to the “more is more” approach. Homemade bread is a good example. How satisfying is it to bite into a slice generously studded with briny olives or to sink my knife into a loaf loaded with plump currants? I had the pleasure to experience both last weekend with just a bit of minimal effort. Bread baking does not need to be complicate. As long as you’re willing to invest in a bit of time and patience, you too can share this wonderful experience.
Baking bread at home means that I do not need to count my pennies when it comes to loading my bread with tasty add-ins. A whole jar of kalamata olives? Sure! Half a pound of currants? Why not? On top of that, I got to use fresh dried herbs and good quality spices. Such small indulgences are quite affordable in the home kitchen. It was small price to pay to indulge in Currants Cinnamon Bread or Black Olives Sesame Bread coated in oregano, thyme, sumac, and lemon zest.
Dan Lepard’s bread recipes make weekly appearance at my kitchen nowadays. When I read his Black Olives Sesame Bread article, I knew I had to make it. It was interesting that he made use of the brine as the liquid and salt component for the dough. The dough was a little wet and sticky to work with but I knew there was a reward. Notice that open crumb in the bread? That’s the result of a wet dough. This bread subtly reminds me of focaccia except for a Middle Eastern twist. That beautiful coating of sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, sumac, and lemon zest is reminiscent of za’atar. Each slice of bread tastes interesting enough as a standalone treat. I’m sure it would make a great sandwich but I’m more than happy to eat it plain.
As for the Currants Cinnamon Bread, my feeling is mixed. It is addictively delicious with the warm cinnamon note and juicy currants and apricots. The extra dark crust lends a toasty flavour that I simply adore. I love its dense texture and its squat appearance reminds me of raisin bread from bakeries. However, I was expecting a slightly fluffier loaf. I was disappointed at my baking skill that my bread is not lighter and taller. I feel rather conflicted because I clearly enjoy my bread but at the same time critical of my handiwork.
If you told me a year ago that I would become a weekly bread baker, I would probably smile in disbelief. The truth is, I learn to enjoy the relax pace and patience which bread baking requires. When the yeast is sluggish, fretting is of no use. Each batch of dough is unique in its own way. I enjoy the rustic connection of turning flour, water, and yeast into something nourishing, with or without (a lot of) fancy add-ins. If you’re new to bread baking, I urge you to give it a chance. Every time I pull a fresh loaf out of the oven, I swell in a sense of accomplishment and pride. I hope you’ll get to experience that first hand too.