I avoid making bread. Cake, cookies, tarts? Yes, yes and yes. Work clean, measure accurately, get the oven temperature right and with a good recipe, success can always be achieved. Bread on the other hand requires time, commitment, nurturing and being open and receptive to what it’s telling you. Bread making is like taking care of a child. And I have 3 of those so my patience and intuition are worn thin, I am full to the point of bursting in the deciphering mercurial temperaments department.
So bread? Not so much in my house.
I do like to eat it though and watch Anna Bellsolà make it on YouTube. All topsy turvy and not the way I do it at all (the way I do it is stick everything into the Kitchen Aid, mix, put cling film on top and wait for it to rise – no art or beauty in the process. But Anna, to make a ciabatta, she starts by mixing flour, water and salt. She works that dough. She rests it. Later she adds crumbled yeast to it. (!!!) She rests it. Then she pours green olive oil on and somehow coaxes the bread to suck it all in. By the end, having worked with a dough so wet, it would have intimidated me into adding an avalanche of flour (but not her) – she has a dough so round, pert and perfect that when she slaps it, it sounds like she is slapping a baby’s bottom.
She’s also got that super-mujer thing going that they manage to do over here. (Like Elena Arzak, named the best female chef on the planet and somehow mother of two, who doesn’t look like a crazy bag lady but you know – no big deal.) They can do cute as a button and be tough as nails. I know this by now but I am still surprised.
I recognize Anna as she walks out from the kitchen and in what is my standard protocol of not thinking before I speak – I blurt out “Anna?”. “Yes?” she answers – should she know me? She is small and pretty and totally absorbed in the running of her second premises at some point she smells smoke and has to rush off before returning to give me her email. How is it that everyone is not talking about her? About this great second location the shared breakfast room of the newly opened Praktik hotel off the Passeo de Gracia and past the big Pain Quotidien. (She is confident Anna – as she should be.) The drill is, you order something from the vast counter, pay at the till and go sit under the skylight or in a dark nook somewhere. Inevitably, what you have is so good that you go back and order just a little something more. And then on your way out, an armload of things to share with your family back home.