There are some things in life that just make me sit back, take a big outward breath and smile. There are some things that always make me feel like this and some things that take me by complete surprise. With that big deep breath taken, all momentary worries are gone. All stresses have been shelved and happiness raises its sunny head. It can be so brief, but with that moment taken, everything gets recalibrated.
The monkeys are going mental and the very average morning looks like its dragging into a very average long day. Then with the tiny few words of Monkey Boy saying something completely out of the blue. It stops me. That breath is deeper, actually filling my lungs, I smile, and everything gets re-aligned. Completely changing the rest of the days attitude.
Black cockatoos do it too. From a young child these beautiful birds seem to have had a spell over me. They are flying over head at dusk, looking for a place to rest for the night. Their slow and deep cry speaks to me. Stops me in my tracks, pulling my eyes towards them, watching their slow flight over head. That mournful cry, tugs at me. Making me smile… re-calibrated again.
The simple process of making bread at the moment is what I feel I need to do. The process of making, baking and then eating such a simple thing, really gives me a lot of pleasure. The simple tastes of freshly made bread, butter and my own jam. Can make a hungry stomach, a happy one with just one bite. With just a few mouthfuls, energy re-stored, mind re-aligned and city hippy farm girl re-calibrated once again.
* adapted from sbs Food Safari recipe
1 tbs dried yeast
pinch of caster sugar
375 ml warm water
480 g strong bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
50 ml milk
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 125 ml of the warm water and set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes until frothy. Use your fingers to work 90g of the flour into the yeast to make a sloppy paste. Sprinkle lightly with a little more flour, then cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes to form a ‘sponge’.
Put the remaining flour and the salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the sponge, oil and remaining water. Use your fingers to work it to a soft, sloppy dough. Should be quite sticky.
In a mixer with a dough hook, on a low speed for 10–15 minutes until very smooth and springy. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Divide the dough in two, then form into rounds and leave, covered, to rest for 30 minutes. Mix the eggs and milk to make an egg wash. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Use the heels of your hands to press and flatten each piece of dough out to a 20 cm oval.
Brush the surface liberally with the egg wash. Dip your fingertips into the egg wash and mark rows of deep indentations across and down the length of the dough, leaving a narrow border. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds and bake for 8–10 minutes until crisp and golden brown.