There are a few aromas that you cannot beat when you open your front door, and baking bread has to be one of them. Beloved trick of estate agents I know, but just such an amazing smell. So, as it’s National Baking Week, maybe bread is a great gift to give.
If you don’t have one already, I cannot recommend the Panasonic SD255 Breadmaker highly enough. I would say it goes on at least once a day, it makes every loaf of bread we need plus dough for pizza. It is so simple to use, and there is such a huge variety of things you can produce from it in the bread and dough department. It even works for producing gluten free breads, although I imagine if you are very sensitive to gluten you’ll have to have one of your own.
There’s a reasonable recipe book comes with it, but I would recommend two others. My first choice is Fresh Bread in the Morning from Your Bread Machine, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. Useful, compact and so far I’ve always had pretty delicious results from the recipes I’ve tried. My other favourite is Dough by Richard Bertinet. You definitely don’t need a bread maker for this one, and it does always make me rue my gluten intolerance. This is a perfect book for beginners or for enthusiasts, and the photography is beautiful.
Of course, the ideal would be to go to Richard’s bread school in Bath. The Bertinet Kitchen offers a range of courses, everything from beginners and kids sessions, through to more specialist stuff like slow doughs and sourdoughs as well as non bread courses as well such as Mediterranean Festive Entertaining. A day’s course starts from £135, with demonstrations starting at £15. Sounds like a perfect way to brush up your baking skills. For those of you a bit further North, then check out the courses at the School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire. If you’re really serious about your breadmaking, then they have a 5 day Artisan Breadmaking Fundamentals course, which should give you an awful lot of experience in a short space of time.
For a bread-themed gift, then have a look at the vintage Hovis tins that Pedlars have. I am not sure if they’re not too beautiful to use in the oven, but then that is what they were made for. They do look lovely as planters though! And then you’ll be needing a good selection of flour, for which I would highly recommend The Flourbin, who have more flours than I thought there were in the world!
So, may your dough always rise, when you want it to, and may your daily bread be a good one! Can there be any better foodie gift?