- Food & Drink
On Friday I was cast from the Celestial City of Rhubarb Compote Happiness to the Slough of Soda Bread Despond. I failed at the Beginner’s brown soda bread. The picture you’re looking at is a photo of a loaf of soda bread deemed so bad it wasn’t fit to go out into the dining room for lunch. It has shame baked through the centre of it and it’s all down to me not weighing things properly.
On Friday morning I got into the kitchen at 8.40am to weigh and chop and prep as much as I could before the starting gun was fired at 9am, when the ovens go on and the teachers stand by you, occasionally asking why you would be doing it like that.
I was down for Beginner’s brown soda bread and Chocolate and hazelnut tart. This was a light load, deliberately so because I knew my teacher would want to watch me make the bread and pastry; scrutiny can add hours to anything.
I carefully weighed out the dry ingredients for the soda bread. Or, I thought I did. But when I added the wet ingredients, the flour wouldn’t take them all. “Did you weigh it out properly?” teacher asked. Of course I did, I replied, thinking: ‘I’m not so stupid I can’t work add-and-weigh electronic scales.’ But I am.
When it went into the tin, there was considerably less dough than in everyone else’s tin. And when it came out of the oven and was sliced, it was damp, like a cellar wall in winter. It also had a creeping tinge of green – a sure sign that there was too much soda in the bread.
I wrapped the offending bread in clingfilm and took it back to my cottage. We’ve been eating it sliced with butter and jam for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the upside to dampness being that it keeps soft and edible for days/weeks/months.
On the upside, I made a credible shortcrust pastry that took a mere 40 minutes to blind bake. 2 tart cases to an oven and 2 students regularly opening the oven to look at their pastry and prod it meant the process took twice as long as normal, so my dishes were plated up for tasting at 11.55am rather than 11.30am (more shame).
The finished tart was delicious though – undoubtedly down to the recipe rather than my magic cooking skills – with melting nuggets of chocolate snuggled down in a semi-set hazelnut and orange filling. I also had my first go at quenelling cream. So poncy and yet I plan to quenelle everything from now on. Even soup.
Day 6 is Mexican Monday and I am on nacho duty – surely nothing can go wrong.