London day out.

Every now and then, I leave my house. It is so infrequent that I can compile all the experiences in this one post.

First I went to Fashion Freakshow by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I first heard of the show last year and was interested, but never actually got to go during its run. When I saw that it was back this year I was determined not to miss it again so I grabbed my friend and off we went! I had no idea what the show was about and therefore had no expectations. Tickets were relatively cheap so I thought hey, nothing to lose.

The show celebrates the life and career of legendary French fashion designer and Madonna cone bra creator Jean-Paul Gaultier. It starts from his childhood-we see little Jean-Paul getting in trouble for designing women’s clothes during class, to his first foray into designing. There is dancing, there is singing, there is nudity, there is beaucoup de fashion darling! “Anna Wintour” even makes an appearance. The show is colourful, flamboyant, camp, gay as hell and all round fabulous. My favourite part was a striptease by a voluptuous redhead. She was stunning and I was transfixed. I also enjoyed the contortionist. Oh how can I forget the fashion show narrated by Catherine Deneuve? That was also a highlight; the names of the outfits, the walks, the transitions, the actual outfits? It was a riot. I want a clip of that part on its own to watch over and over again.

All in all, I enjoyed the show and was happy I went. I even got a free condom.

From there, we met up with other friends at Chukus, a Nigerian tapas place we had been DYING to try for ages. After a lot of back and forth, we finally got to try it and it met all of my expectations. I love trying out restaurants, particularly those offer new and innovative interpretations of food. Some call it pretentious and maybe it is, but I love it.

I had tried to book ahead for another outing but I had to pay a deposit of £100 for 6 people and I decided not to. This time we just rocked up hoping for the best and we were rewarded with a table. The restaurant is quite small; maybe sits no more than twenty people. The vibe is nice enough, there are Nigerianisms everywhere, including a small collection of Nigerian books. I was happy to see that I have read most of the books.

My favourite thing was the cassava fries. As a lover of fried yam I knew I was going to love this and it met my expectations. The adalu (beans and corn) was also good which was surprising as I always talk about how I hate corn in beans. Growing up I hated when my mum cooked beans and I excitedly went to get a plate only to see corn in it. Whyyyyy? Turns out I was the dummy. It’s not bad. I ate it with the fried plantain mixed in cinnamon. The Sinasir & Miyan Taushe was a revelation. These are rice pancakes common in Northern Nigeria. We were not going to order them but the woman who took our order recommended it and I am glad she did. It was so good. The moin-moin was the cutest moin moin I have ever seen and it tasted good. The jollof quinoa was another thing I was not interested in but my friend ordered it and it was good. At the last minute I decided to order the caramel kuli kuli chicken wings because no one was picking up on my hints. It was nice enough. We also had suya meatballs (I generally do not like meatballs so I only had a small bite and it was alright. The sauce went well with the cassava fries), and honey suya prawns (not bad but not memorable.) The lamb asun was one thing I was eager to try but it was the most disappointing part of the menu; we found it quite dry. Strangely enough all the food we enjoyed the most were vegetarian/vegan so it turns out we could actually have a full Nigerian meal with no meat/fish. We had zobo and chapman and I finally decided on the age long battle (in my mind) between the two: Chapman wins every time. No contest. There was Nigerian beer and £3 glass bottles of water.

I was intrigued by the dessert menu and made my friends order one of each so we could try all three options. We got the yam brownie, chin chin cheesecake and plantain waffles. I was most interested in the yam brownie and it was alright but I couldn’t really eat much of it. Not for me. My friends however thought that was the best dessert. The plantain waffles just tasted like plantain but I liked the flavour of the ice-cream that came with it. I don’t have any memory of the cheesecake but I think it was okay.

Not much more to say, here are some pictures.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I am glad I did not let the rail strikes derail my plans. I had to go into London on Wednesday to stay with my friend as tube and rail strikes meant I would not have been able to get in to London on Saturday. It was a last minute hassle which was totally worth it.

This was almost a month ago and I have not left the house since.

Baby’s day out in London

For someone who only has three friends, I have actually been quite social lately (by my standards anyway). I spent the whole of January and February in my room, only leaving to replenish my groceries and toiletries. In the last week of February, I finally ventured out of my house and off to London I went. I had booked myself a ticket to finally see Cirque du Soleil. I had the chance to go years ago when I was in university, but I couldn’t find someone to go with me (actually, I don’t think I asked anyone) and I didn’t feel like going by myself. I regretted it afterwards. When I saw that Cirque du Soleil was back in town, I decided to go see it, come rain or shine. None of my friends were interested so I booked a ticket to go by myself. This was booked back in 2021, so I was just waiting patiently.

A friend of mine had a birthday in early February and I did not get to spend the day with her, so our mutual friend (and some of her other friends) decided to do a surprise dinner outing. Luckily, it was on the same day as the circus show so I only had to make one trip into London. My show was at 3:30pm, and I was hoping for dinner at 6/7pm so I could be safely back home before it was too late. Alas that was not to be. First we had to decide on the restaurant, and this took a while because we needed a pretty place that was also available to book. Covid restrictions have been removed and everyone is outside! We decided on a restaurant and the friend booked it for 9pm. NINE O CLOCK IN THE NIGHT TIME! Oh my Lord. I saw the message and just put the phone away; a case of see no evil. I attempted to salvage things by booking a Japanese BBQ place for 7pm but it was decided to stick with the original booking. The restaurant was selected because it was “pretty” which is really the primary criteria in booking a restaurant for a birthday dinner. I searched for reviews online and saw a few comments about how the food does not match the decor. I collated these comments to send to my friend to let them know that all that glitters is not gold and to sway them away from this place, but in the end I decided to just go with the flow. You have spent the whole year so far alone in your room, go out and spend the whole day outside. So I smiled and said see you there! and prayed not to miss the last train back home. One thing about me? I will go back home.

The day arrived and I had a mixture of excitement and the familiar nervousness I always feel when I have to leave the comfort of my prison room. I made it to the show in good time and was pleased to find that I had a really good seat. As always I was so happy to be out and about in London, and I took as many pictures as I could.

Before the show started, I thought of a play on words: Cirque du So’lame! and hoped that would not be case. The thing about having expectations is that they are often not met. The show was alright; there were times when I wondered why I wasted my money, and there were jaw dropping moments when I literally clutched my non-existent pearls. I got the impression that this show was much more tame than other cirque shows, and I was a little thankful for that. The performers put themselves through so much and I have seen enough headlines about unfortunate accidents and deaths at shows like this and I was a bit nervous for them. It was interesting to me to see that the performers were also nervous. It never occurred to me that they would have nerves, I just assumed they do this all the time so they are basically superhuman. Watching them take a deep breath before flying through the air was actually endearing. The contortionist was really good (and surreal!), and the best part for me was the one when they flew in the air from one moving ledge to the other. There was juggling and some other alright stuff; there was a whole scenario featuring the clown with a whistle that went on for quite a while. I did not get it. At all. The audience seemed to get it though, judging from the laughter. Maybe it’s because he had his back to my section but it was a waste of my time. All in all, it was alright and I’m glad I’ve finally seen the show.

The show was over at 5:30 ish and I had a lot of time to kill. Thankfully, the line for the toilet was long and that easily killed a good amount of time (sort this out Royal Albert Hall!). As I had a fair bit of time, I took my time and moved in a leisurely manner. I stopped in a few places, including Waterstones, and then made my way to Oxford Street where I could easily waste a few hours. Whenever I go to Oxford Street, I need to have a crepe or bubble waffle. The last time I was there I had a bubble waffle and ever since, crepes (my erstwhile favourites) are no longer suitable. Oxford street is huge and confusing, I felt lucky to be able to find a crepe place and I did not want to lose it while searching for the bubble waffle place so I settled for a crepe. I should not have. It did not taste good. Still, that held me until the late night dinner.

I painted my nails on the bus. Not sure why I even bothered.

I did a fair bit of window shopping by myself, and then walked over to the restaurant at 8:45pm to meet our mutual friend who had arrived early. The restaurant is tucked in and I kept missing it.

The sign is so tiny. I expected a huge sign to match the fuss.

On getting there, we discovered that the reservation was actually for 9:30pm! I sighed deeply, and we went off to do more window shopping. Time flies, and we were soon all gathered together to celebrate our friend, who got emotional at some point.

The food was alright. The food I ordered was not photogenic, although that could be because of the poor lighting and poor camera quality.

The atmosphere was nice enough, but it did not make up for the fact that we were eating so late. I feel that it would have been better at the Japanese BBQ place, as we would have been more relaxed and spent more time together. I had to get the last train at 11:40pm, so I literally ran out of there and all the way to the tube station to get to the train station. I was a mess. I spent more time recovering from the run than I spent running. It turns out one of the guests had her last train cancelled due to someone jumping in front of the train, and so she had to pay for a taxi home. Yikes.

Still, my friend was happy , and so was I. It was nice to leave my house and interact with others.

Even in my haste, I managed to get some birthday cake which was baked my our mutual friend. I had this for breakfast in bed the next day.

It felt good to leave the house, and the next week I was out of the house again for a fun weekend in Birmingham. I’m a real Popular Polly these days. Yay.

Self reflection: Go eat something

I have written extensively about my sugar addiction, and how the first step is recognising the problem; and the second step is to guiltily continue with the addiction. To my credit, I did try my best to cut somethings out. I no longer binged on a diet of custard doughnuts, chocolate chip muffins, cake, cinnamon rolls, chocolates, gummies, fried food etc (I still eat these things, just not all at the same time as I did before). I have fallen off the wagon, and that’s what this post is about. One thing I learned from this journey of self-reflection is that I unfortunately have no self control, and once I pop I don’t stop until it’s all gone. When I buy a pack of sweets I tell myself “Oh I won’t eat this all at once, I’ll buy it and eat it over the course of the week.” LIES! It will all be gone in an hour. I am frequently oscillating between the guilt for not being able to fully break away from the sugar diet, and a feeling of resignation “oh well I’m alone and lonely; I might as well have sweets and chocolate.” This is the same narrative spewed on shows such as My 600lb life, so I do have to tread carefully.

My guilt is constant these days because I indulged over the Christmas break and have not truly been able to recover. I had successfully set myself up on a diet of fish and vegetables, a meal which I actually enjoyed and looked forward to. Over the break I bought red meat for the first time in a while (well except the occasional lamb chops) and I have not looked back. I cannot go back to my Salmon and spinach lifestyle, I am so done with it. I have also had a craving for chicken wings which I have been satiating. For the first time I got some cooked frozen chicken wings and was surprised at just how tasty it was. It cannot be good for my waistline though.

Anyway, the point of this post is this: I was relaxing on Sunday and only left my bed to get my breakfast of pancakes and leftover chicken wings (so good). After relaxing restlessly (as I do) for hours, I decided to pop out to the store for some popcorn as I was feeling peckish. Of course I also got some Malteser biscuits (first time seeing them, and they were on sale-can’t resist a bargain) so I bought them both. I started eating the Malteser biscuits immediately after paying for them, and by the time I got home they were almost finished. This is over 35g of sugar which I casually devoured. I then opened up the supersized popcorn- hmmmn maybe I’ll just eat half and save the rest– ahahahaha of course not. That was gone in a twinkling as well. I sat in bed looking at myself, wondering what the problem was. Just the day before I had gone on one of my walks (the only exercise I do) to a store where I bough bonbons and toffee and finished them all ( the roof of my mouth is still extremely sore). It was quite a sugar packed weekend and my skin is paying for it.

In the middle of my guilt, I realised it was already past seven and all I had was breakfast. Could it be that rather than being a greedy sugar junkie (which I definitely am), I was just hungry? If all I had was breakfast, and it was late evening, then it makes sense that I would be hungry. My guilt didn’t last long however; I had my dinner of meat and vegetables and then washed it down with diet coke (I don’t ever drink soda but this hit all of the spots! Damn).

As a sensible person, what I need to do is properly curate my diet, and invest in some healthier snacks. On the weekdays I have my first meal at 11-12ish and then there are no meals planned until dinner at 6ish. Weekends are similar, although it is harder for me to get out of bed to go get breakfast and the day passes by with no breaks. What then happens is that I feel peckish and rather than satiate this with actual food, I just ingest copious amounts of sugar. Surely the restless peckish feeling is hunger?

As a child I would not have guessed that a big part of being an adult was simply worrying about what to eat. One of the first things I’ll do once I win the lottery is to hire a chef and meal planner. For now I have to figure out new meals and snacks. Currently the extent of my healthy eating knowledge is oatmeal for breakfast and spinach, protein, and potatoes for dinner. I still love my oatmeal breakfast, but gah I’m so over dinner. Last time I had salmon I had to garnish it with some chicken wings to make the meal palatable. That is not a sustainable lifestyle.

In pursuit of happyness

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I try to be healthy, I really do but when life gets one down, all one can do is to nurse oneself back up, and food is a good way to do so. So while I struggle to do two consecutive sit-ups, I can walk thirty minutes to and fro in the pursuit of food. In fact the only exercise I do is my daily walks to the supermarket.

A week ago, I started craving cinnamon rolls. This is not unusual as the rolls/buns/swirls/nuggets are some of my favourite things, and during the pandemic induced baking frenzy I would make them often. But I’m in a battle against my sugar addiction and I have abstained from cinnamon pastry for a while. I saw a particularly juicy wet bun on instagram and I decided I would give in to temptation and go get some during the week.

Throughout the work day, one thought kept me going; cinnamon bunzzzzzzzzzzzz. I worked till 7pm before deciding to wrap it up lest all the buns disappear. There is a large supermarket which is a thirty minute walk from my house; it has more things than the ones in my neighbourhood and I walk there sometimes to convince myself that I am exercising and getting my steps in. This far away supermarket has my favourite cinnamon bites (which is the way I discovered the supermarket and the true reason I go there) and they also have this cinnamon tear and share bun platter which I never tried because I always told myself it was too much (you know how I like to delude myself about eating healthy). But on this day, the platter was exactly what I wanted. So off I went in the pouring rain at 7pm in pursuit of happyness. (This brings back fond memories of 6 years ago when I had a McDonald’s craving for the first and last time).

Now you may not know that I am a little psychic (ha!) so before I got to the supermarket I knew I was going to be disappointed, and I was. I stood in the bakery section for a good minute, staring at the empty spot where the cinnamon buns were supposed to be, not knowing what to do next. I bought a pack of my cinnamon bites, which are nice but were not what I was craving. I didn’t want the hard delicious bites but the soft chewy bun. I decided to walk 15 minutes to a smaller store where they might have the bun but was also disappointed. Right before the final hurdle home I stopped by the store three minutes from my house and voila, cinnamon buns! Not the big sharer one I was craving but still a bun regardless. I could have saved myself the trouble if I had gone to the nearby store in the first place but hey, at least I got my steps in.

Then I went home and ate everything in one go-the bites, the microwaved bun; all that cinnamon goodness.

Of course I had awoken the beast that had lain latent for months- the very next day I went out to the store for another bun but they didn’t have any so I had to make do with a cinnamon swirl (which I used to eat almost daily but does not compare to the bun). The day after that I made another trip and got two cinnamon buns! I heated only one in the hopes of saving the other for later but of course I just ended up eating the other one cold, right after.

On Friday I made another trip to the big store, making sure to leave earlier, and tada! packs and packs of the Cinnamon tear and share bun.

Of course this was not enough; while debating whether to get two packs of the tear&share, I saw a 2 pack of “super cinnamon scrolls” which I had never seen before. I threw it in my basket and was giddy as heck, debating which one to eat first (haha I ate both). Well the super cinnamon scrolls tested off, and made my mouth feel weird. I thought maybe it’s because I was eating them cold straight out of the pack. I had eaten all but one bite when it occurred to me that maybe it was meant to be cooked first in the oven. I put this one bite in the microwave and it didn’t change anything. I fished out the packaging from the bin and it did not mention anything about needing to be cooked. I googled it and turns out it is a vegan recipe *insert blank stare* What a waste of money and calories. The reviews on the website are not pleasant either so I’m not the only one. I’ve been coughing since I ate it (although this really could be due to literally anything else).

It even looks weird.

And that’s that. A whole post about nothing but my love for cinnamon buns. I just want to eat these warm soft buns everyday with no repercussions. Alas, life is unfair.

Third time’s the charm?

Last year when I was still in the throes of baking, before I was attacked by cystic acne and vicious tummy fat, I attempted to make orange pound cake. I tried this twice, and failed twice before giving up on this, and then giving up on baking altogether.

Still my fondness for baking has been ignited, and will not be completely extinguished so easily. Plus it was bank holiday Monday, and everyone was out enjoying the great outdoors so I figured I ought to commemorate the day as well, and what better way than to revisit an old nemesis? That kids, is how I ended up baking orange pound cake for the third time.

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A new enemy.

It’s been about a year since I started taking my skin seriously in terms of identifying and eliminating the causes of my constant breakouts. I reached the conclusion that the main culprits were sugar and dreaded dairy, so I made efforts to limit my consumption of these items (with lots of backsliding as I can resist everything except for temptation). I’ve been relatively good, but a week ago my face was attacked by a rash of pimples and I could not understand why. I racked my brain but could not remember eating any excess sugar or dairy in the past week. I thought perhaps it was due to my forthcoming period, and I did what I always do when my skin acts up when I’ve been good-ish- say what the hell I might as well binge on sugar and cheese, and got my favourite chocolates, gummy bears, and even asked for cheese in my burrito.

It has since occurred to me that I might have to add one more item to my eat in moderation list. For the week leading up to my breakouts, I had spaghetti every single day for dinner (so yummy!). Could this be the reason for my skin woes? A quick google search concluded that it was in fact the reason for my skin problems. Refined grains such as white pasta, and white rice have a high glycemic index which means they increase blood sugar which then increases insulin levels which then increases oil production which causes acne. What is even the point of life? Rice and pasta are pretty much the two food staples in my life (along with white bread to complete the unholy trinity)- at a point in my life I was eating either rice or pasta everyday. The bright side to this is that maybe pasta was the culprit all along and I can go back to having cheese? Hmmn.

I have also learned that vitamin A is important to having clear skin. The post I read claimed that it was not dairy that caused acne, but dairy consumption without adequate vitamin A to counterbalance it. So now I’m drinking a glass of multivitamin effervescent tablet every day and hoping for the best. Probiotics are also supposedly good for the skin but this is dairy so I’m not sure what to do. Soy is my go to dairy alternative but word on the street is that it is not good for the body either. Oi! Thankfully there’s oat, almond, cashew, coconut to choose from.

In summary; avoid all refined sugars, consume more probiotics, omega 3, and vitamin A.

One day I will have clear skin, but that day is not today.

PASTA EVANGELISTS

I first came across Pasta Evangelists on social media some years back and thought it was cool, but as usual I couldn’t bring myself to actually buy anything. The options were enticing enough, but there is always the chance that I won’t like it and that’s my money wasted. My friend tried and liked it, and I told her I would try it too but didn’t. For my birthday this year, my friend took matters into her own hands and surprised me with a delivery!

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Working on my fitness.

I have what must be the most expensive and ineffective fitness routine. I stay in my room for days on end, averaging 50 steps a day, and severely deficient in vitamin D. I eat sporadically; I am too lazy to leave my room I don’t eat breakfast until my sight is blurry from hunger and I am forced to go downstairs for nourishment. Of course then I pack too much food and I return to my room laden with hefty calorific carbs. I will have a banana of course, and pretty much inhale any edible thing within my reach.

But the star of my fitness routine are my expensive walks. Oh darling, I don’t go out “for a run” like the rest of these plebeians, for several reasons. One, why would I just enter the street and start running when nothing is chasing me? In addition, I am unable to pack light- a quick run will require my phone, keys, water bottle, umbrella in case it rains, wallet and shopping bag incase I run past the shops, face towel and all sorts of Knick-knacks. No darling, I go for long walks. Now once again, I can’t just leave my house and go on an aimless walk to nowhere so to motivate myself I add a goal to my walks. Rather than go to the nearby Tesco which is three minutes away, I will walk 30 minutes to the big Tesco which stocks my favourite cinnamon bites. So I get in my steps and also get a tasty treat out of it. Win-win for all but my waistline. The Tesco is also quite big so walking around adds to my steps, and if I should pick up an apple pie and a dozen sweets as I make my way through the shop then so be it. Tired of Tesco? Well there’s a Morrisons 35 minutes walk away, and an Aldi thirty minutes away.

I went on one of such long walks a few days ago and it only cost me £13, three new pimples, and bloating. Next week I’ll walk to Morrisons as they have a charity box and I have stuff to give away; I might get some pies and pastries to make it worth it. Once I master the act of going on regular long walks and then eating fruit after, I will be unstoppable.

Puff puff

I had some yeast and some flour, so I decided to tackle an old nemesis-Puff Puff. How do I describe puff puff? It is deep fried dough, basically the Nigerian version of a doughnut. Different cultures have their own version of it; from New Orleans beignets to Emirati luqaimat. It is a childhood favourite and I have fond memories of eating big fat juicy oily puff puffs. Naturally as I became an adult and moved away from home, I tried to make my own, and naturally I failed.

The first attempt was a few years ago and at the time I assumed the problem was that I had never worked with yeast which made the whole issue of rising was a hurdle to overcome. Instead of big fat juicy puff puffs, I ended with hollow burnt nonsense which put me off of trying. Following my recent success with bread, I was encouraged to give puff puff a second try. I found a recipe online and it seemed so unbelievably simple (even simpler than I remembered) that I was feeling pretty confident.

I woke up early and headed to my new favourite place- the kitchen (well second favourite after my room). I mixed together the flour, sugar, yeast, nutmeg, salt and warm water, taking care not to make it too runny or too doughy.

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I then covered the bowl with kitchen foil and an old tshirt and set to rise in a pre-heated oven which had been left to cool.

All this took 10 minutes max which made me suspicious, was it really this easy? While the batter was rising I had nothing else to do so I decided to make some bread. Yes I am now a woman who casually decides on a whim to bake some bread. The ingredients for the puff puff batter and bread dough are almost the same; the main difference is just the consistency. So I followed the bread recipe I used before and left the dough to rise.

By this time the puff puff batter had been rising for about 45 minutes, as suggested in the recipe. As always when I peeked I could not tell if the batter had risen or not, so I had to refer to my pictures. Of course it had risen given all the bubbles but I left it a bit longer, a little over an hour in total.

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So far so good, I thought. Surely things must go wrong now. I suspected that the trickiest bit was going to be the frying. In past attempts I had not used enough oil as I am quite miserly with my oil, and it quickly dawned on me that it was the oil not the yeast that was the main problem. I got a big pot, poured as much oil as possible and then let it heat up. I did not have an ice cream scoop or any similar instruments needed to get the round shape so I used a spoon.  I tried to do everything right and still ended up with this:

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Burnt offering. Painful flashbacks.

Not only was it burnt, even worse was the fat that it was not fat and juicy at all! It was hollow which was my biggest fear starting out. Once again I rang everyone who could help (well my mum and friend) who then advised that I needed a lot of oil at a medium temperature. I transferred the oil into a smaller pot to make it easier to deep fry and resorted to using my hand to make smaller balls.

That was the secret to success! The resulting product was much better, it was not fat and juicy as I wanted but it was not burnt and it tasted good.

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Look how pretty!

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In summary for puff puff you must remember the following: 1) A lot of oil is needed for deep frying 2) The oil has to be at medium temperature 3) Find a way to make the round shape. Usually hand is best.

By this time the bread dough had risen to an acceptable degree and I had preheated the oven at 150 rather than 175 and started to bake the bread. At this lower temperature, I baked it for almost 40 minutes checking on it regularly.

 

This turned out even better than the previous attempt. The greatest baking trick that I have learned in my baking career of one month is brushing freshly baked bread with melted butter. It instantly transforms the appearance from drab to fab. Melted butter is real life photoshop, who knew? I mean look at this.

 

So ends the tale of the bank holiday morning when I woke up to make puff puff and bake bread, just because. I am that woman now and I am all the happier for it, Here are more pictures.

 

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Till next time!

 

 

You never forget your first time…

…of baking bread that is.

 It was a nice Saturday morning and I had absolutely zero intentions of leaving my house. I was going to laze about in bed all day, only getting up to get more snacks. Then my friend sent me a link for a bread recipe and I was hooked. The bread looked so luscious and the recipe looked simple enough. That was enough to get me out of bed at 10am on a Saturday to go searching for yeast. I went to three stores and eventually found some fast action yeast in the store closest to me. 

The recipe also called for some “bread flour” which of course I assumed which was a fancy way of saying regular all purpose flour which you intend to use to make bread (ugh my mind!). But no, there is actually such a thing as bread flour, strong bread flour in fact which is what I picked up. It is amazing to think that a month ago, I had no flour and had never baked anything, and now I have plain flour, self raising flour and strong bread flour; I have baking powder, baking soda and yeast! By the end of the year I will be on Great British Bake-off.

Back to the bread!

Of course once I purchased the ingredients I was much too exhausted dah-ling to do anything else so I left it till the next day. On Sunday morning, I got up bright and early and got to work.

Listen baking is so easy- just follow the recipe; but it is also so hard if you are a complete novice who has not built up the requisite baking IQ. First off, it occurred to me that the recipe called for active dry yeast and the pack of yeast I had said it was Fast Action yeast. So I asked google who confirmed that they are indeed different types of yeast. The basic difference is this: active dry yeast needs to be activated (which is why the recipe mixed it with sugar and water first) while fast action/instant yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients. Whoopee. 

The recipe called for the following: *3/4 cup water + 2 tbs *2 teaspoons Active dry yeast *300g bread flour *50g sugar *1/2 teaspoon salt *3 tablespoons butter.

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All the ingredients required for my first ever bread!

As it was my first time, I decided to start small so I halved the measurements. This was no easy feat seeing as I only have a measuring cup so again off to google I went to convert cups to grams and grams to cup. I managed to somehow figure it out and I mixed all the dry ingredients together.

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I was so excited at the thought of making my very own bread.

Then I slowly added the water, trying my hardest not to repeat the famous flatbread batter mistake. You can therefore imagine my despair when the dough once again threatened to be more batter than dough. I managed to get it out of the mixing bowl and I put it on the chopping board. The dough was unmanageable and kept sticking to the board which is when it dawned on me that perhaps a chopping board was not the best place to knead dough. I kept adding more bread flour to the mix while a little afraid that I might damage the recipe by getting the proportions out of wack.

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Doesn’t quite look right. I was a teeny emotional at this point.

I had sent my friend (who is a great baker) a couple of messages at this point. It was barely 8am on a Sunday so there was no assurance that she was awake but thankfully she was. We decided to video call so she could guide me through it. It was her to told me to knead on the kitchen counter instead- I share a kitchen with flatmates so this was quite an unappealing idea, but I wiped down with area with anti bacterial surface cleaner and waited for it to dry. Then I floured the surface and my hands before plopping down the dough and it made such a difference. I added some butter to the mix and then proceeded to knead for God knows how long. Time went by quickly as I was on the phone with my friend. Eventually I ended up with a sexy ball of dough.

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Ah! much better. So smooth, so beautiful.

I divided the dough into three as directed in the recipe video and then flattened each one with a rolling pin, before rolling them tightly (You will need to watch the recipe video to understand what I mean).

One of the dough portions was too big for my pan so I cut it in half and had four instead of three. I arranged them carefully and lovingly into the heavily buttered container which I covered with a dark cotton shirt and put in the microwave (not turned on) to rise. 

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Ordinarily I would have set an alarm and gone back to sleep for about an hour. But it was fast action yeast so I thought it might work quicker so I just stayed in the kitchen and watched it like a hawk.  I checked on it about thirty minutes later, and it did not seem to have risen at all to me, until I compared it to the first picture and realised that she had indeed risen. I was quite pleased.

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I left it in for another 30-45 minutes (could have been more really. Time is really an illusion at this point) and I nearly passed out from delight when I checked on it again. and saw that it had indeed risen. 

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She has risen! Hallelujah!

It was now ready to go into the oven. Per the recipe I preheated the oven at 175 degree celsius and put it in for 20 minutes.

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Go with God my child.

Twenty minutes later (after peeking a few times to the chagrin of my friend), I had bread!

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Sure looks like bread.

I was advised to let it bake a little longer so I put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes (the original recipe called for 20-30 minutes so I thought I was good). When I took it out again, it was a bit burnt on top which miffed me a bit but hey I had bread!

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I brushed each section lightly with a copious amount of butter and it dramatically improved its appearance like an instagram filter. 

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See how it shines.

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It actually looks like bread. I cannot believe it.

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You sexy thing!

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It took me hours to make the bread, mainly because I stood there like a dunce and waited for the dough to rise. By the time the bread was ready it was mid afternoon and I was dizzy with hunger. I then proceeded to devour the whole thing in ten minutes. Yes all my hard work was gone in ten minutes and it was worth it.
I am so proud of myself and I cannot wait to see what I’ll do next. Milk bread? Brioche? Chocolate chip banana bread? I have lots of flour and I am excited to use it. So weird that I used to be intimidated by cooking/baking but really it ain’t nothing but a chicken wing.
Toodles.