"Tszot" is the only sentence my daughter can say and it means "it's hot". It is hot. I keep thinking about the thousands of bats that dropped dead out of the sky in a heat wave earlier this year, their tiny bodies making pitter-patter thuds as they fell from the trees. I imagined myself from above, standing on the grass sweaty, red-faced and surrounded by dead bats, and thought how is it that I came to live in this place.
Technically it is still spring and I haven't quite got my summer game on. More like the tender barefoot at the beginning of September than the end of year's tough old sole, able to walk over melting bitumen and scalding sand and burrs.
It feels too hot to cook and almost, but not quite, too hot to eat. But faced with the choice complaining all summer long about how unbearable it is or just getting on with it, I decided to fire up the wood oven and, in what felt like a once-more-unto-the-breech-dear-friends spirit of things, make some bread.
This recipe is a godsend if you don't live near an amazing bakery. And the bakery would have to be producing some pretty good bread to beat this. You don't need to knead, you don't need a wood fired oven (although it is nice thank you Valentina and Santiago), you don't need fresh yeast.
It is based on the principle of a long fermentation period, which does the work of kneading for you. Then by baking what is a mixture of only flour, water, yeast and salt (magic no?) in a super hot oven in its own super hot lidded casserole dish creates bread with the most amazing crust and crumb. New York Times writer Mark Bittman shares baker Jim Lahey's recipe in an excellent youtube video. It is only five minutes - I highly recommend giving it a go. Just google mark bitumen jim lay bread and it will come up (I removed the link because it was doing crazy things to my website). It tastes so good with anything but I enjoyed mine with a simple cold tomato sauce, made from tinned tomatoes cooked down with garlic. basil, chopped carrots, salt and pepper and left to sit in the fridge.