My paternal grandmother was one of my first influences when it came to cooking. When I was young, I used to stay with her while my parents worked, and I loved watching her cook. At four years old I was a little too young to help, but I remember sitting on the kitchen bench, and her piping an icing ‘worm’ onto my finger to lick off while she decorated a cake, or her lifting me up to watch her pasta sauce bubble and “blop blop.” I loved the bread she made, especially when we could have some, still warm for lunch. Incredibly, I’ve never seen my grandmother use a recipe, ever. She seems to remember every one of her signature dishes off the top of her head, or cooks purely by taste and experience.
Most of our family gatherings occur at her house; we have a big family and her dining table is the only one that fits us all. Bringing up six children, she’s well practiced in feeding an army. Those six children all have children of their own now, and I am one of her fourteen grandchildren. It always surprises me how much she manages to cook in her tiny kitchen, a feat of good organization I am sure. In years past, there were always loaves of freshly baked bread to go with the big lunches she cooked, but since my grandfather passed away a few years ago, her special bread’s appearances have been few and far between.
It was nanna I thought of when I (finally) made the no knead bread today, and I think it had a lot to do with the smells. The smell of the yeast, and the smell of the bread cooking brought back memories. It was my first attempt at any sort of bread making, and definitely won’t be the last. This opened the door to a whole new world of baking that seemed kind of intimidating. Baking bread gave me a fulfilling and almost maternal feeling – creating something from scratch and watching it grow and change. The recipe was simple and quite forgiving. I cooked it in two small loaf pans rather than a pot because I didn’t have anything suitable, but this seemed to work nicely. The bread had a nice crunchy crust and a hearty dense texture that I greatly enjoyed, still warm with some butter. Next time I will try it with wholemeal flour because I generally prefer wholemeal bread.
I feel really lazy not sharing a recipe two posts in a row, but this one is so common now it hardly feels necessary! I found Jaden’s post extremely helpful, and I love those photos!