Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've seen Debs Lehner's boufadou!

Back at home in front of the computer after a lovely day spent with the lovely Mme Lehner of The Lehners in France where I was honoured both to see her 'boufadou' (oooh, you dirty minded lot) and get a peep at the new blog. No, don't try to bribe me, wild horses would not drag anything out of me. Blogonimity must be maintained. We had a laugh looking at some or our favourite and not so favourite blogs, I met the full gamut of lame and sound livestock, had a lovefest with the gorgeous Sam (the horse) and went on the piste - not literally. I had the tour of the house, which is quite lovely despite being almost empty now, Mme Lehner has been a busy beaver, packing up ready for the big move.

I'm only sorry I met her two weeks before she's due to leave for the UK where she will be the one with pert breasts in her new, well fitting M&S bra while I'll still be boobling around in my French-made bustenhalter which is clearly not fit for purpose but I feel we've not seen the last of each other, indeed I hope not. We had loads in common and it was so nice to meet someone normal, no drink problem - at least not one she was admitting to, no desire to be 'more French than the French' and clearly a much loved member of the small rural community where she lives.

Spurred on by the lovely home-made bread Debs brought out for lunch (we both share a dislike of baguettes - give me appalling belly ache) and slightly embarrassed that I was so desperate for a pee that I didn't stop on the way home to buy any bread and cereals for DS and DD breakfasts, I decided to finally use that 'bread mix' from the German Deli (Lidl) which has been languishing in the back of the cupboard since my last 'I must be like my French neighbours and make my own bread' lapse. Fortunately, these lapses are rare because they invariably end in disaster.

Pour half the packet into a bowl, add 350mls of warm water and mix in a food processor for 4 minutes at maxiumum speed to make a nice smooth dough (it said in French)

How difficult could that be?

I rummaged in the back of the cupboard until I found my 1970s vintage Kenwood Chefette, bequeathed to me by a 96 year old former neighbour and the nearest you'll find to a food processor in my kitchen.

I duly poured half the packet into a bowl and added the water.

Within 30 seconds I had a revolting gloopy mess which had more in common with melted rubber than 'a nice smooth dough' and was busily wrapping itself around the whisks which were struggling to turn it.

The nasty burning smell which shortly emanated from the old Chefette was enough to convince me that it wasn't really up to the job and quite possibly, neither was I.

OK, time to resort to manual kneading which I vaguely remember from my home economics days at school.

I lifted the dough out of the bowl and tried to detach it from my hands. It wasn't playing ball. The more I tried to get it off, the more it stuck. What I need is more flour but how to pour it in when this godforsaken mess is still firmly glued around my fingers. I'll just have to do my best.

I picked up the packet and poured in more flour. That was the easy bit. Trying to put the bag back down was less successful. On top of the gluey dough I now had the bag of flour stuck to my hands. Time to try the CH's 'strudl pastry flick' (more on that later). It's all in the wrist action you know. A few sharp flicks and the bag detached itself and took flight across the counter spilling most of the rest of it as it went. The dough became marginally less sticky but still didn't look like a nice smooth dough. The more flour I added the more sticky the bag became, the more flustered I became........and then I got an itch on my nose. Why does this always happen?

"DeeeeeeESSSSSSS, DeeeeeDEEEEE, I need you!"

"Uggg" responded DS

"Whaaa" responded DD, neither making any attempt to help me.

Damn, I'll just have to scratch my nose myself. So now I have sticky bread dough up my nose and I'm going to....... to......... to....... SNEEZE. Not pleasant!

Eventually, with almost all the bag of flour added to my measly 350mls of tepid water I had something vaguely resembling a 'smooth dough'.

Time to put it somewhere warm to rise for half an hour. Blimey, in 30 minutes I could drive to the shops and buy a loaf of bread, but, not deterred I stuck it in front of the woodburner. Half an hour later, no change.

The instructions say I must now put it in a greased loaf tin and leave it to rise for another 45 minutes. Ah, that could be a problem. A loaf tin? Who do they think I am? Martha Graham? I find a brand new cake tin lurking in the cupboard. Must be one of the CH's purchases. There's no way I'd waste money on a cake tin. I mean, then I'd have to make a cake! Still, it will do.

Another 45 minutes later and a quick inspection reveals that it may have risen a millimetre or two. I seem to remember Debs wafting round the kitchen with a tray of very blousy dough. Still, she probably didn't buy a bread mix from the German Deli.

Into the oven at Gas Mark 4 for 60 minutes. 60 minutes? My oven has two temperatures. Off and Crematorium. If I put it in for 60 minutes it will be a charred, blackened lump. Let's try 25 minutes.

And, voilĂ , an almost perfect loaf of bread. Blimey, I'm going to change my name to Marie-Claire and buy a 2CV!


Lehners in France said...

It was great to meet you at last and such a shame that it took so long! "Normal" folk are few and far between out here in the Darkest Dordogne. If I had known you (k)neaded bread you could have had some of my baps!

Hopefully when we are both settled somewhere in the UK we won't be too far away.

Sounds like you need to buy a bread machine though! It saves all that sticky mess, and don't worry about sneezing into the dough, it just makes for a nuttier loaf!

Bon courage! (I'm sooo bloody French don't you know!) Debs x

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

I have laughed reading this!
What a scene...are you sure neither of the lovely small people didn't film you at all- there could be a new you-tube clip ready to storm into the ether..
I have a kenwood cuisine that is over 20 years old, bought with the esso petrol tiger tokens (remember them?) and it is still going strong,thank god.
Maybe someone from kenwood will read this and send me a new one eventually, for endorsing their product...if they still make them.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper x

The Dotterel said...

Well, well - it's amazing where Black Boxes lead you. Delighted to make your acquaintance; I'll be back!

(Very) Lost in France said...

Hi Debs - if we think we are normal, what does it say for the rest of them!! But then there's normal and there's normal isn't there. We know! VLiF

Hi SH - my parents have a 27 year old Toshiba microwave. I keep suggesting we write to Toshiba and tell them and see if they'll give them a new one but my Mum says that it works better than any of the new ones so she won't bother, thanks very much. VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Hello, the Dotterel. Love those black boxes. I've found some wonderful blogs through them. Shall pay yours a visit toute de suite. VLiF

French Fancy said...

Can I join your club of not liking baguettes? They give me indigestion.
Great blogging.

(Very) Lost in France said...

French Fancy - you can by all means. Did you know that a baguette is more fattening than a doughnut. Another good reason not to eat them!! VLiF

imbeingheldhostage said...

I'm with Debs, while I read I was thinking, Bread machine! Nothing with more than three steps though.

That's so cool you got to meet AND see the new blog (maybe you could hold a raffle and divulge to the winner?).

As for scouting Norfolk, I'd be very pleased to help. Apparently me and estate websites are inseparable, might as well be of use to someone :-)

Frankofile said...

Worrying that Debs talks about you BOTH being settled back in the UK. It'll just be French Fancy and I, then, making our own bread here to avoid the baguettes?

Stew said...

Debs, I've probably said on your blog, we'll miss you.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Imbeingheldhostage and Stew - with Debs inimitable humour and take on life, you'll surely find the new blog without any help. VLiF

Frank - I'm still hear for the immediate future. Plans still up in the air until the house sells. Don't cut me out of the bread making group just yet! VLiF