Last year I had a veritable epiphany with regards to baking in general and bread in particular, when I discovered, through a noble gesture of a fellow foodblogger who introduced me to sourdough, that you can make bread at home, in a conventional oven, that tastes miles better than anything you can buy in a shop (at least that's true for the UK). With the basic ingredients (sourdough cultures I have been nurturing since last summer and believe me, we have developed a relationship almost close enough to want to find pet names for them) and a few tricks for putting together the dough (folding, kneading, forming) and the actual baking (steaming is the key!), I am now in a position where I very rarely have to buy bread at all - only when time constraints don't allow me to bake.
Now in that light, you probably wonder why there aren't more bread recipes on this site. The answer is two-fold: firstly, after weeks and months of trying various recipes, I have found a handful that are our favourites (eg a simple French country loaf in the style of Poîlane) and that fit in well with our daily routines (the various rises can span over a day and then there's a more intensive phase with can involve hourly folding of the dough - not ideal if you've got to chauffeur three kids around all day or a workplace to go to) - so my baking circles around household staples rather than new creations every other day. Secondly, I am really struggling with the photography part - you want to show it off inside and out and there's only so many ways you can stack a few slices of bread...
But if you excuse the lack of aesthetics, I can treat you to a recipe that I make quite a lot and that works equally well as a round "free-style" loaf as well as baked in a loaf tin (lately, we've been having a lot of the latter). I first tried my hand at it when my brother-in-law came to visit and we were discussing the many delicious types of bread available from Austrian bakeries. One favourite has always been a bread roll with carrots and various seeds and I was dying to get my hands on a recipe to show him that I actually COULD make something that tasted equally good than what he can buy day in, day out at his local supermarket.
Another coincidence and many weeks later, I was trawling through the sidebar of newly discovered Ye olde bread blogge which not only has brilliant recipes, but whose owner is in love with Austrian bread. Through him I learnt that Viennese baker Stroeck of the aforementioned rolls has a bread baking book out - you've never seen anyone order a book faster! Sure enough, the recipe was a winner (fully convinced brother-in-law that we suffer from bread cravings no more) - and there are tons of earmarks (guilty as charged!) in the book for more delicacies... as soon as I am back in London after my current 6-week holiday, I will be getting started! I am not missing the bread necessarily given that we have great bakeries here in Austria, but the therapeutic effects of making your own loaf!