We had dinner with our new French friends here in Antigua. We have travelled halfway around the world from France, to a little island in the tropics where everyone speaks our native tongue, English. However somehow we are still more at home with the French.
They baked fresh bread for us.
Oh, how I miss the bread in France. I had forgotten about it with all of the other changes around us. But suddenly it seemed like part of the jigsaw puzzle of our life had been put back in place. It was wonderful. Fresh bread! Even the children gathered around the table and ate slice after slice, as if they had been deprived of their rights to good bread.
The bread in the supermarkets here is not good, I’m sorry. I know I have been spoilt by years spent in a country where they make the best bread, le pain, in the world. Don’t even try to argue with me. This is coming from someone who, when she realised she was moving away from France, decided to eat as much baguette as possible to make up for the lack of it abroad.
I don’t want to put anyone down here, by saying the bread is not good. But it is just not ‘French’, you know?
So I decided to make my own bread for breakfast this morning. This is what happened.
So we had Nesquik hot chocolate for the children, coffee for us and freshly baked bread and tartines (or spreads) for breakfast this morning. And it was good. Really good. Not French-bakery-good, but homemade and good for the soul.
Oh, and I used beer brewed in Antigua, ‘Wadadli’ beer.
And the coffee was roasted here too, from the Carib Bean coffee company.
So you know, it’s just the recipe that’s foreign! But it has the heart of the Caribbean in it.
Here is how I did it:
For 1 loaf of French bread.
1 packet of dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups flour
1 bottle (12 fl oz) Wadadli beer
1 1/2 tsp salt.
Mix the yeast together with the warm water and half a cup of flour. Leave to stand in a warm place for about half an hour.
Then add the beer, the salt and the rest of the flour. Mix together well and leave to stand in a warm place for about an hour.
Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and knead by poking holes with your fingers and folding it over again and again.
Shape into a loaf on your floured baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a bowl of water on the lower shelf of the oven.
Just before putting the bread in the oven, sprinkle some more water into the oven to create steam. This helps to get a really crispy crust.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool before slicing.