On Tuesday night I went off to a talk at our local vets on lambing for smallholders. It was really interesting. The best bit for me – and this is going to sound weird, but I don’t care – is that we played with a couple of dead lambs, manipulating them inside and getting them out of a black box with a hole in – a ewe-simulator if you like. We also practiced tying lambing ropes on the little dead lambs, tubing them and getting them to breathe – yes, this last bit wasn’t successful. It was hugely helpful. In fact I could do with having a dead lamb in the freezer and my own little ewe simulator so I can practice everyday in preparation should I have to manipulate the lambs before they are born. All I can say is for their own sake I hope they are able to come out unaided. The talk was brilliant, but rather than feel reassured and confident about lambing I am now absolutely terrified at the prospect, but I guess you learn by doing and we are going to be doing sometime around 17th April.
I don’t have any photos of the ewe simulator and the dead lambs, but I do have some of the lovely milk bread I made last week. It is another recipe from The Great British Bake off Big Book of Baking. This is called “The Perfect Soft White Sandwich Bread” (58-9) but it is made with milk so I am calling it milk bread.
It is slightly more complicated than my usual, fast mid-week bread, but still quick and easy. It also makes amazing baps – I will post about them later this week.
Milk Bread: 500g strong flour, 7g sachet of dried yeast (I use 1 tbsp of Dove’s yeast that you reconstitute), 30g butter, melted, 1tsp golden syrup, 325ml of lukewarm milk, 1 heaped tsp of salt.
Put the flour, yeast, salt, syrup and melted butter in a mixing bowl and mix by hand.
The recipe says to knead it together to make a soft dough but I use my minimal knead method. Basically mix it all together and leave for 10 minutes.
Then knead for 10 seconds and leave for another 10 minutes. Knead for another 10 seconds and leave for 10 minutes. Knead one last time and leave for about one hour in a bowl covered with a teatowel or clingfilm.
Push down the dough into a rectangle and roll up. Push the dough into a bread tin. Push it flat into the corners.
Put the tin in a plastic bag and leave it to double in size – about an hour. Preheat your oven to 220C and bake for loaf (taken out of the bag!) for 15 minutes then reduce the temperatire to 180C and bake for another 20 minutes or until it is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Brush meted butter over the top of the loaf before it cools as this will keep the top nice and soft.
N.B. this bread is good, but it is no way near as good as the bread my friend Mike made yesterday – thank you Mike, it was delicious.