cottage loaf

You know you’re on the right track when you’re homeschooling the Russell Brand way.

Ahem.

So far, a well-used Christmas gift, as we knew it would be. Béla was very quick in getting us to peruse the book with him and commit to our birthday desserts. Last year was the first year that we realized late January to late February is really a season of specialty baking for Béla and he loves it. We’ve all chosen recipes, and Béla has been sitting and studying the cookbook at night, the way he’d otherwise be perusing D&D books.

He did a yeast experiment in his Spectrum Science textbook a month or so ago. (Spectrum Science is fine, at least for knowing what topics are “grade-level”, although I’m not sure that matters all that much other than for… testing… wow, it’s all the same damn grind, isn’t it?) But it definitely has room for alla lot to be added to it. With B., the standard backup there has been electronics projects, and that’s going quite well. He’s about to build a synthesizer. But to find cooking challenges that count and have clear scientific principles is great. And this was his first yeast bread — he got to smell the smell I grew up with, of bread dough proving. He got to knead and feel the dough become elastic. He did the windowpane test!

Our oven has, technically, a proving drawer — we store baking trays in it. And it is a big shallow. And, the biggest challenge with a cottage loaf is, that the top loaf might “blow off” — things could have gone wrong. So Béla just turned the oven on “warm” and set his dough on the stovetop.

There wasn’t a negative thing to be said about his cottage loaf! Sure, it could have been a bit neater with the smaller loaf more defined. We try to make bread just a treat, not a daily thing, and wow, to have this with the beef stew Tucker had made last week would have been magnificent.

I think now, he’s got to concentrate on birthday desserts. Claudia’s is the nigh maintenance one there, but she also wants to be a big part of making it (She wants that satisfaction of draping a perfect blanket of fondant over a cake, however apocryphal this experience might be.)

I wonder what Russell Brand made! I hear that he and Noel Fielding get up to some schemes on a TV quiz show Tucker watches. Our family was talking recently about how the Great British Baking Show “family” is a dynamic we really admire. There is so much support for one another, such kindness. It’s like a little fairy world. I had told Claudia I thought Noel would make a very good D&D character and she loved this idea.

Very proud of Béla. Considering that he began his learning week with a choice of building a synthesizer, making a cottage loaf, or practicing sewing a suture line — on “human” “skin” — and knowing he’ll probably get to all of it this by this weekend — this is what keeps us going.

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