Bread- the Staff of life

I have been baking my own bread now for a couple of years using the same recipe I took off the back of the  and quick yeast packet. I vary the flour types to get different textures and taste. In my search for different ingredients I found Kamut flour on my supermarket shelf one day , this is an ancient type of wheat grown by the pharaohs in Egypt. As well as having  a high mineral content I found out later that it’s better for your gut. It has a lovely flavour and I generally mix it half and half with organic strong white bread flour. Sometimes I throw a few sesame seeds on top with some poppy seeds and after seeing my aunt Eugenia make bread, I even chuck a few onion seeds on top. But I still felt I could improve it.

When my  aunt was showing Androula and me all her wheat recipes of course she showed us how she makes bread. She always uses her own starter made from scratch instead of fresh yeast and I hadn’t heard of this before. Wild yeasts are floating in the air all around us and given the right conditions anything will ferment even chocolate apparently…now there’s a thought. So if you mix some flour with water and beat some air into it and leave it covered in a warm place it will start to froth and bubble given 24hrs. Keep adding water and flour to keep a batter like consistency and after a week you will have your starter. This will give you a sourdough loaf. 

I haven’t tried this yet but I needed to make some more bread and thought I would give it a go but of course it was going to take a week and I needed the bread now. So I compromised.

I recently bought Hugh Fearnley -Whittingstall‘s Everyday  cook book as he has some jolly nice ideas and lo and behold there was a good size section on bread, with that all important information on making your own starter. When using your own starter the bread is much more easily digestible as the yeast has had time to break down the flour really well. He also had a cheaty version for quickness using dried yeast but leaving it overnight to ferment with half the flour and the warm water, then proceeding as per usual. So I thought this would serve my purposes beautifully this week while I wait for my starter to get started. This has worked a treat and tastes like real bread should taste as the longer proving improves the flavour. I can’t wait to see how it will taste using my starter.

Oh Publisher, Publisher wherefore art thou………

This blogsite is all about my journey from writing ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ my first  effort, to getting published. It is a journey so many have done before me and so many are doing as I write. The easy part is writing and putting together the whole package of presentation, a really fun part, but then the path ahead becomes a little hazy and confusing. There are so many hopeful writers out there  and so many paths to choose from once you have written. Do you get an agent or dive straight in and find a publisher? I started looking for a publisher in Cyprus for two reasons really, one,  I thought they would be more sympathetic to the material of the book and two I thought this might be simpler as there is much less choice. Indeed as far as I am aware there is only one publishing house functioning in the manner that we would expect in the U.K. the norm is more on a self publishing basis. It is a very small country  the market is much smaller and so therefore are the profits I guess.

I was  hopeful, as very early on the one publisher showed a keen interest in ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ and I couldn’t believe my luck, they were negotiating a book distribution deal in the UK at the time of me approaching them, a vital part of the deal for both of us. Sadly a few months further down the line this deal fell through and they were unable to secure another. So this left me with the rather more difficult task of wading in and finding an agent in the U.K. Or should that be a publisher??? For better or worse I’ve started with a search for an agent purely because there are fewer of them to choose from. The list of publishers and their requirements is a daunting one which I might yet have to work my way through. At the moment I have taken advice from a writer’s web site and started with a list of 10 agents to whom, a few at a time, I’m sending an enquiry with link. It will be a slow process as they all get many submissions a week and have a respond time of between 6 and 8 weeks, but it’s better than doing nothing and sticking all that work in the metaphorical drawer and forgetting about it so I can move on to the next project. I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get on with it however long it takes.

It is a task though, I have to admit ,I find every excuse to avoid, and time seems to march on inexorably. As I look out of the window the daffodils are nodding and the sun is out beckoning but my head must be forced to bend over the keyboard and plough on. Ahh publisher, publisher, wherefore art thou…..?