Friday, 7 January 2011

A Dough-tal Disaster

I have a massive crush on Nigel Slater. In my list of gay men upon whom I have a crush, he's right up there with Alan Bennett and Michael Stipe. Anyway, just because I can't cook doesn't mean I don't aspire to, and hence I quite often find myself looking at cookery books. One of my particular favourites is Nigel Slater's 'Real Fast Food', which always tempts me into the kitchen until I read the part where he says 'all but the most hamfisted of cooks should be able to make this' and put the book down in silent shame. It's a bit like the beginning of the Hercules Disney film (a great film, even though it bears about as much resemblance to Greek mythology as that other great historical epic, 'Troy' - you know, with Brad Pitt in a leather skirt? When they kill Menelaus? That angered me. MENELAUS IS MY FAVOURITE.) when an awkward teenage Hercules who doesn't know his own strength manages to mess up just about everything, ultimately destroying his village through his enthusiasm. I am the Hercules of the kitchen. However, unlike Hercules, I am not possessed of a god-sent culinary heritage. I will never slay the Hydra of the Hotpoint Oven. It's tragic, but it's true.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that I was watching Nigel Slater and he had a cool recipe for quick bread, so I thought I'd make some, with the intention of perhaps doing so at college. The reason the bread is so quick is because it's soda bread, and you pre-heat a casserole dish in the oven whilst making the dough so it cooks faster. Apparently the silver box in our staircase kitchen  which I mistook as a device for communicating with Jupiter is in fact a convection oven, so such feats of culinary brilliance are indeed possible at college. Did I mention, the bread has yoghurt in? It sounds gross, but it just makes it sort of moist and delicious. That's plain yoghurt, by the way, not strawberry yoghurt or anything. That would be weird, and probably not quite so moist or delicious, which would be a pity.

You basically jam flour (wholemeal and plain), some salt, sugar and baking soda into a bowl then add the yoghurt slowly, mixing it into a smooth dough. At least, that's what happened when Nigel made it. When I made it, the yoghurt splurted everywhere and the dough went insanely sticky and got stuck to my hands so I looked like one of those tree women from Doctor Who, which is obviously a look I intend to rock at all times. Anyway, I eventually managed to get it to form into a sort of ball and shoved it into the preheated dish (which, by the way, you have to put flour in) and forgot about it for a bit. When I came back and inspected my handiwork, I realised that unlike Nigel's sexy but virtuous loaf, I had made....a massive wonky scone. Nonetheless, I decided to try my handiwork. And it was good...or at least, the first few slices were, and then I cut unto it and saw, in the middle of the loaf, a perfect ball of uncooked dough, like one of those hideous Gala pies one sees at the deli (who on earth buys those monstrosities? I mean, it's such a fucked-up idea! We will take a PIE of MEAT and put an EGG in it! It's just so bizarrely wrong! I don't get this obsession people have with randomly putting eggs in things and it being OK, like salads or scotch eggs. It's NOT OK! It's HIDEOUS! STOP PUTTING EGGS IN PLACES WHERE EGGS SHOULD NOT BE!) So, that was less good. I can't quite face Nigel now. I feel that I've failed him, somehow. Sorry, Nigel.

Tastiness - 5/10 - The ends of the loaf were OK-tasting, even though they were just a Big Scone. But the middle was inedible.
Likeliness to set off a fire alarm -4/10 - I think that as long as you don't forget about the casserole dish in the oven, this one is fairly foolproof. 
Likeliness to cause a fatal coronary, 20 years down the line - 2/10 - It had wholemeal flour in, so it's totally wholesome, innit. Although, to be fair, full-fat Greek yoghurt probably isn't that good for you. Ah well. Swings and roundabouts.


  1. I can tell you've been reading Milton. As in, by the time I got to the end of your Hercules epic simile I'd forgotten you were talking about bread.

  2. Hey Lotte! You'll never guess who this is in a million zillion years.
    Your blog makes me smile, AND I love Nigel too!! Not in a sexual way as such, moreover as a wonderful, straightforward cook. I had a similar dough-saster the other day when I made an upside down tart case (as in, one on a flipped-over baking dish so it forms around the outside and slips off after it's done - see "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"). I did not realise that when I pricked it with a fork to allow air to circulate as dear Julia recommended, I went all the way through a few times, so mu beautiful lemon filling was a nice puddle in my baking tray. D:
    Gordon Ramsay is cooking's sexy bad boy <3333