100 Great Breads: Bread #15 – Farl

*Note!! I began writing this last Tuesday (I think) and never got to finish it, so I have now returned to see it through. You will very quickly see what, or who, was the culprit for this blog’s demise*

M.D. did not sleep well at all last night [or for much of the following week] so today’s bread comes to you from a half-slumbering state of delerium. [You see? I even spelt delirium wrong.]

Today the bread adventure is the elusive ‘farl’. I say elusive because I have no idea what it is, what it is supposed to be and how it is meant to look – even Paul’s picture is misleading. So this is a blind bake, so to speak. Therefore, I have decided to follow the recipe fully today – I know, novel isn’t it!

Mixing and Kneading

Farl is a white bread; white bread means white flour which means . . . easy knead. Paul often suggests 4 mins for mixing and 5 mins for kneading (or 9-10 mins all in) but once you get the hang of this kneading malarkey you can reduce this time quite considerably without impacting the quality.

The dough was left to prove and, as the weather is as glorious as ever, the prove only lasted an hour. It was then knocked back and shaped into a ’round’, once this is achieved it was flattened to approx. 2 inch thickness. The surface of the dough is then scored down the length about 7 times, all lines parallel to each other, and left to prove for a further hour.

The Bake

As it cooked, the kitchen filled with that, now, ubiquitous aroma in our house. Without an additional flavour this farl does not have the appeal of some of Paul’s earlier breads. But this bread was saved by its taste and texture. The crumb was soft and savoury with only a hint of sweetness. The crust was dry and crunchy, becoming chewier as time passed in the day.

Farl

Farl

It was a delectable bread that, with a different shape I feel, would happily stand as a family loaf for sandwiches and yes, even toast!

Unfortunately, my sleep deprivation combined with the erotic allure of good bread, has meant that today’s photo leaves more to the imagination than I would, perhaps, have wanted. Maybe later in the year I will make it again and post the photo . . .

History of Bread

Pliny theElder was a Roman author and natural philosopher who wrote a Natural History book around AD 77-79. He spends a surprisingly long time discussing bread; how it was made by different cultures, the various ways of cooking it, different ingredients and so on. I feel the next fewblogs will be full of quotes of his:

“It seems to me quite unnecessary to enter into an account of the various kinds of bread that are made. Some kinds, we find, receive their names from the dishes with which they are eaten, the oyster-bread . . . the artolaganus, or cake-bread, for example; and others from the expedition with which they are prepared, such as the “speusticus,” or “hurry-bread.” Other varieties receive their names from the peculiar method of baking them, such as oven-bread, tin-bread, and mould-bread. It is not so very long since that we had a bread introduced from Parthia, known as water-bread, from a method in kneading it, of drawing out the dough by the aid of water, a process which renders it remarkably light, and full of holes. like a sponge: some call this Parthian bread.” Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 18.27

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