On depression, suicide, and Star Wars fancy dress

For those of you who know me, then I am sure this post is only going to describe an event I am sure you are all aware of. However, the blog is increasingly getting views from outside of  my immediate friends and family, and so I shall start at the beginning.

8 weeks ago one of my closest friends took the decision to end his own life.

I have not been totally truthful here – this is not the beginning of the story. However, poor mental health is such a taboo subject that it is often only from this point that friends or family become aware that one of their loved ones is suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness. The days of ‘The Big C’ are long since over; cancer is no longer a taboo subject which simply cannot be mentioned in polite conversation, and has to be hidden away by the sufferer. Yes, it’s frightening. Yes, it can feel defeatist, or like weakness to admit to those around you that you suffer with an illness that you cannot hope to fight without extensive treatment, and that you are afraid of the outcome. However, sufferers of this (often long-term) illness are quite rightly treated now with the respect and sympathy they deserve, rather than fear and shame.

My hope is that one day, depression and mental illness can be given the same respect. It is an illness which is not, on the whole, the fault of the sufferer. Nonetheless, the stigma associated with it dictates that the sufferer is often treated as though they can just ‘cheer up’, as though there is some blame to be apportioned to them for their suffering, or that treatment is an unnecessary luxury. Attention seeking somehow. Consider for a moment how it must feel to be afraid to die of cancer – an illness that you as an individual are powerless to stop. Now consider what that fear of death represents when you are afraid you may simply do it to yourself, and feel equally powerless. You expect nobody to take your fears seriously, and moreover, in order to receive treatment you have to beg, explaining over and over what you fear you may do to yourself. For many, this is a terrifying reality from which suicide provides the ultimate relief.

So what really happened?

The more truthful account of my friend’s life and death is this: he was a wonderful, talented, intelligent young man. Despite mental and physical illness of a severity that would have rendered a less robust person incapacitated, he achieved an outstanding 2:1 in English literature from a top university. He was a dedicated friend, a maverick, a lover of gin and a thoroughly entertaining person to be around. He had terrible taste in music, clothes and wine. He was high maintenance. He needed continuous emotional support to continue to live life as normal. He didn’t like to ‘be a burden’ to those around him, and although he was often hard work, he was an equally generous friend in return.

The last eight months saw an accelerated worsening of the depression, anxiety, and physical illness from which he had suffered for many years. His ability to go about day-to-day life was eroded a little bit at a time. Occupational health forms require that you declare mental health problems – they also ensure that you are almost unemployable. Mental health’care’ on the NHS is a total lottery depending on funding. In my friend’s case, he was sent home from hospital with a self help book when his therapist said that his suicical feelings had become out of control. Two weeks later he was found dead.

The mother of a close friend of mine is a mental health nurse, who describes a mental healthcare system almost entirely propped up by charities. These charities are having their funding systematically cut back, yet no state-sponsored health service has taken their place. Hopefully no one reading this blog will ever have to experience what my friend suffered – the humiliation of begging for help, while suffering with one of the cruellest illnesses of them all. However, the sad fact is that one in four of us will suffer from poor mental health. Even if you don’t experience it yourself, odds on someone you know will.

Why am I telling you all this you may ask.

Because something needs to be done. The hardest part about all this is that my friend isn’t coming back. We couldn’t save him. All we can hope to believe is that he is now experiencing in death the peace that he desperately wanted in life. This doesn’t solve the fact that for many out there, they are still living out the reality of mental illness without adequate support, feeling unable to express to those around them the suffering they are experiencing.

In just over a week I will be cycling 20k on my 35 year old, beaten up Raleigh shopper. I’m doing it dressed as princess Leia (I decided to auction off the right to pick my fancy dress…) and I have made a home made R2D2 to put on the back of the bike for running repairs. Mental illness isn’t always depressing. My friend would be laughing himself silly if he knew I was doing this now! I’m doing it for the charity Mind, as it helped support my friend and I through the worst of times. The most important thing they do is make mental illness talked about, and make help accessible. If you want to donate, hop on over here:

http://www.justgiving.com/Amanda-Brunton

Your support will be very much appreciated, but more importantly it’s the attitude that’s got to change. People have got to start seeing this as a real and treatable illness. People have got to stop believing that it is the fault of the sufferer. And above all, we have to start prioritising mental healthcare rather than letting vulnerable individuals fall by the wayside.

Rant over – normal cheery, food-related service will return with the next post 🙂

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An adventure in Anglesey Abbey / Baking brown bread / The elderflower wine

So. Brown bread. This was a nemesis of mine for a while in as far as it can be a little trickier to pull off than a white loaf, but still very achievable for a beginner. Brown flour contains less gluten and so is less stretchy and therefore a bit different to knead, and will rise a lot less. You can of course add gluten, but I personally feel as though this rather defeats the object of making it for yourself.

Getting the flour

On this occasion the baking represents an actual adventure in Bruntonia. The husband was back from university for the bank holiday weekend, and I felt like getting out and doing something, so we cycled to Anglesey Abbey. This is something like 6 miles outside of Cambridge, and a marvellous example of an English stately home. The house there is beautiful, but the real triumph is the grounds and gardens. Having risked the hayfever long enough, we also went to visit the Lode Mill.

There has been a mill on the site for around 1000 years, the current mill is around 300 years old and a masterpiece of restorative work. Most of the workings of the mill are still original, and still being used. You can buy freshly ground flour from there, which I was of course, super excited about. I talked off the ear of the poor guy in the mill about the absorbency of the flour (makes a huge difference to the amount of liquid you need to add!) as well as the fineness of the flour, which was very impressive. The other important aspect is the ratio of white to brown flour – as I have mentioned, brown flour isn’t as gluten-y, so a good way to compromise delicious wholegrain goodness and a loaf that doesn’t resemble a rock is to mix it with a bit of white flour. In this case, I recommend about 1:2 white to brown flour, but it is of course down to personal taste.

Anyhoo, having been escorted away from the mill (you have honestly never seen someone so excited about a bag of flour…) we went to the cafe and tried some cream tea and scones baked with lode mill flour (it was the jubilee weekend after all!). I was suitably impressed, and have made a couple of loaves of bread with my flour since. It is mega delicious, but I have to make it last until I feel ready to take a 12 mile round trip on the pushbike to get some more!

We also signed up to the National Trust as members while we were there, cementing the idea that Chris and I are basically old people already. All the same, their membership is bargainously discounted, especially for young people.

The ingredients

  • 300g strong brown flour
  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • 30g cake yeast / 1 tbsp dried active yeast / 2 7g sachets ready yeast
  • 150 ml warm milk
  • 150 ml warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • seeds (optional)
p.s. for something more like Hovis best of both (in colour, not in additives!) do 125 brown flour, 375 white.)

The recipe

If using dried active or cake yeast, you should start with this first. Cake yeast will need to be mixed with 1 tsp sugar. It starts life as a block, but as you mash in the sugar, it will go to a runny liquid. Add the warm milk and whisk together, then give 15-20 mins to wake it up. For dried active yeast, add 1 tsp sugar and the warm milk, and do the same.

Mix together your dry ingredients, then add the yeast mix and the water. Then it’s time to knead baby! Kneading is stretching out the dough – stretch but don’t break it. My fresh flour had an almost sandy texture, but absorbed liquid well to make a beautifully smooth dough. You can read my original bread-baking post here (includes guide to kneading) or watch this video here. It will take a good ten minutes.

Roll the dough up to a ball and lightly oil it. Put it in a bowl covered in a damp cloth for about an hour and a half, or until double the size. Then knock the air out of it, and lightly knead again. At this stage I like to knead in 2tbsp each of sesame, poppy, and sunflower seeds, leaving a few to scatter on top once it’s in the tin. Put into a lightly oiled tin and leave for a further 45 mins to 1 hour.

Bake at 220*c for 10 minutes, then bake at 180*c for a further 15. I then take it out of the tin and bake for another 5 mins to get a good crispy crust.

Leave it to cool and then chow down!

Finally… the wine

The wine has been a bit of an adventure in as far as it got a little mould on the surface. Not the end of the world, provided it hasn’t taken hold too much. It’s normally a natural yeast, which normally has poor attenuation and will die off as soon as it gets alcoholic, so I’ve given it two chances. Anyway, I sterilised a bucket, cloth and a demijohn, and strained off the flowers, raisins and citrus through the muslin. I then siphoned it off into the demijohn, by far the easiest way is with a siphon tube. Just sterilise it first! It will now sit there with a fermentation lock on top and bubble about for another 3 weeks, or until fermentation finishes. I’ll update you then!

p.s. I’ve made more cordial

I thought I had way too much, but it turns out I don’t. There;s still loads of elderflowers, so I’m making a top up!

Elderflower wine

So this recipe is shamelessly poached from my brewing guru, Basil. He is a medical herbalist, and knows pretty much everything worth knowing about making your own booze at home. More than once I’ve left his house far too wobbly to ride my bike after far too much (just enough?) elderflower wine, so I’ve decided to try the recipe for myself.

A note on brewing…

Now normally I’m keen on writing up recipes that require no specialist ingredients or equipment. It’s all very well saying that ‘this random ingredient you’ve never heard of and can’t buy ANYWHERE’ is the best thing ever, but well… you can’t buy it anywhere. However, brewing is different and does require some reasonably specialist equipment and ingredients.

You will need:

  • A fermentation bin – the best ones have a small hole in the lid for a fermentation lock
  • Fermentation lock – basically a little water chamber that lets gas escape, but doesn’t let anything get back in
  • A demijohn – a glass or heavy duty plastic jar to ferment it in
  • A hydrometer – basically a thermometer without the mercury. It measures the alcoholic potential, and then the actual alcohol produced.
  • LOADSA sterilising stuff. Sterilise everything like it’s covered in zombie virus during an outbreak of the undead.

The recipe

  • 1/2 pint of elderflowers.
  • 3 1/2lb white sugar, a little less if you don’t want it too sweet. This is like a dessert wine.
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons.
  • A strong cup of tea (no milk!)
  • 1lb sultanas, rinsed under a kettle full of boiling water, chopped
  • Yeast nutrients are a good idea, follow the instructions on the box – usually 1 tsp per gallon
  • Wine yeast (don’t use your bread yeast… it will die off way too soon!) again usually 1 heaped tsp per gallon
  • Water to 1 gallon.

Mix all together in a fermenting bucket and add yeast. This is often referred to as ‘pitching’ the yeast.

Check with your hydrometer the alcohol potential. Bear in mind most yeast will die by 16%, super yeast may live to 18%, so you want a reading of around 1130 – 1140 for the sugar.

Ferment for 5 days then strain into a demijohn. Keep it in the demijohn until there are no more bubbles in the fermentation lock.

Have a taste, and test with the hydrometer for alcohol content, then start bottling!

Make sure that your bottles and siphon tube are fully sterilised and then begin siphoning. I tend to do this with a partner – you don’t want to drag up the sediment at the bottom, so do it slowly and carefully. Once bottled, stopper up or cork your bottles (screwtop is fine if you have them) and don’t forget to label them. It should be fairly drinkable pretty much straight away, though I would recommend keeping it for a few months, or even a year or so.

EDIT: I drank a good proportion of my elderflower wine the following New Year’s eve. The wine was delicious, I drank plenty, had a great time… and had a dreadful hangover to prove it. ‘Nuff said!

Cinnamon buns – A Father’s day post

So basically I tried this recipe out a week or two ago when I had a late night hankering for cinnamon buns. They do take a couple of hours to make, so I wouldn’t recommend them as a late night recipe, but they are very good! It’s father’s day this Sunday in the uk, and my dad has both a sweet tooth, and a love of home baked munchies. Basically, my mum taught my sister and I to bake at an early age so she would never have to make cake for herself again. So far, so good in that respect! In any case, this weekend I am having a go at teaching mum some bread-baking.

So the dough for cinnamon buns is precisely somewhere between bread dough and cake. The dough is a recipe from BBC Good Food which I have tweaked until it is a bit more to my liking, the sauce is pretty much a customised fudge recipe. As with my general bread baking post, I still advise that a high quality yeast (such as Allinson’s dried active yeast) is essential to decent bread – especially for a rich, heavy dough like this. The crowning glory of good yeast is still always fresh cake yeast if you can get it though.

Ingredients

For the dough:
– 450g strong white bread flour
– 2 x 7g sachets ready yeast/1tbsp dry yeast/30g cake yeast
– 150ml warm milk
– 50 ml warm water
– 1 beaten egg
– 1 tsp salt
– 50 g caster sugar
– 50g melted butter

For the sauce
– 1/4 cup molasses sugar (dark as you can get it)
– 1/4 cup dark brown soft sugar
– 1/2 cup caster sugar
– 1 cup boiling water
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 2 tsp vanilla essence
– 2 tbsp butter

The recipe

  • Start out with the dough. If you’ve used quick yeast, stir together all the dry ingredients, then beat in the wet ingredients.

OR

If you’ve got fancy live yeast, put it in the milk with 1tsp of the sugar for 15 mins to wake up. Add to the dry ingredients along with the egg, butter and water.

  • Knead for about 10 mins, or until springy to the touch – this is a weird dough as it is so rich, so knead fairly lightly to start with and build it up – the approved technique is to stretch but never split the dough.

Leave to prove for 1 hour. In the meantime, make your sauce!

  • Mix together the sugars in a heavy saucepan. Pour on the boiling water and mix thoroughly – simmer for 3 mins. Add in the butter and boil for a further 8 mins. STIR CONSTANTLY OR IT WILL BURN! It should start smelling fudgey and delicious. Mix in the vanilla and cinnamon. Leave to cool. Try to resist tipping it over some ice cream and gobbling it straight away!

Back to the dough…

  • Your dough should be done proving for now so knock it back and roll it out into a long rectangle. Indent all around the edge, just under a centimetre from the edge – stops the sauce from pouring off! Tip over the sauce – be as generous as you dare. Lots of it will soak in as you bake the bread so pour plenty (but not all) of the sauce onto the dough.
  • Roll it up lengthways like a swiss roll and cut into eight pieces. The sauce will inevitably be all over your counter top unless you’re neater with the dough than I am! Line a 23 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper (you will need it if you want your tin to ever look the same again…) and put the pieces in side by side. Leave to prove somewhere warm for 30 – 40 mins.
  • Preheat your oven to 220*c. At this point I smothered my buns in crumbled pecans as a last minute moment of inspiration, and poured over some extra sauce 🙂 Once they’re done proving (they should fill the tin) bake for 10 mins, then cover the tin with foil, and bake for another 10 mins at 180*c. You should even have a little leftover sauce for that ice cream as well!

Enjoy!

p.s. Incidentally, I’m starting off some elderflower wine this weekend. I’ll be posting it as a two-parter recipe mid-week next week, as the elderflower season is far from over and there’s still time to make some for yourself. Think elderflower cordial… but with booze.

Keeping Chickens – Updated

Since they even turn up in the tagline of this blog, it’s probably about time to mention the chickens! We have four hybrid chickens in the back garden – all Rhode Island Red / Maran crosses. The light grey one is known as a ‘Bluebell’ hybrid, the others ‘Copper Maran’. They aren’t any particular poultry-fancier pedigree chickens, but we have at least an approximate idea of their breed!

The chickens made their first appearance at Bruntonia HQ about 3 months ago. Pa Brunton grew up on a chicken farm in Canada, and I think he thought that the children might like to have some chicks about the place. As it turns out, I was probably more excited than my three year old nephew was. He had been told we were picking up the chicks, and knew he was excited, but I don’t think he actually knew what the chicks were. The very nice breeders made a big show of opening up the hen house (met by sheer excitement from me of course…) to which Arti exclaimed ‘But Papa, they’re just BIRDS!’. In spite of this, once we got them into the car, we were both pretty excited about peeking into the box and listening to the little cheeping noises.

On getting home, Arti picked up the largest bird, and promptly declared that it was called Aristotle like him. We have pointed out that Aristotle the chicken is a girl, but I don’t think three year olds fuss about small details like that! In any case, the three marans have also been rather dubiously dubbed ‘the Franks’. Initially, when a chick was picked up, the others would cheep loudly – causing my husband to comment that it was like they were called ‘OMG WHERE’S FRANK??’ This appealed to the biggest kid of them all (me) and so the chicks became known as Frank. Initially at least, they either had black, white or ginger markings (and so were Black Frank, White Frank, and Ginger Frank). Only Ginger Frank has retained her original colour sadly – being the runt of the chickens and firmly at the bottom of the pecking order the poor gal has had a hard little life!

For the first few weeks while they feathered up, they lived in a box in our conservatory. They then moved out to the cabin as a sort of intermediate measure, and eventually the garden proper. They have a fairly substantial bit of space to run around in day to day – several square metres for four chickens (the RSPCA recommends at least 1.6 square metres for four birds). They have a little indoor run, perching space, and a nesting box for when they do start laying. We are pretty certain now that they are all ladies, so hopefully we should start getting some eggs over the next couple of months!

For now, they essentially eat little pellets, as well as anything they scratch around for, and get fresh water out of a little drinker from our rain water butt. They are still babies really even if fully feathered – the biggest one, Aristotle is as tall as she is going to get, but will still gain weight to get to adult size. The Franks have got some catching up to do size wise, and none of them can really cluck yet. They’re a bit like adolescent boys – they run around making high pitched little cheeping noises, and then occasionally let out a loud ‘honk’, before looking around like ‘who did that?!’

If you’re considering keeping chickens the best recommendation is to make sure they have plenty of space, somewhere safe to roost at night where you can close them in, away from predators. We got our chicks very young, because Pa knows what he’s doing with the birds – it may be easier to get them a little older. Speak to the breeder first, and choose a breed carefully – some are more docile than others! As I am new to this chicken malarkey, I am also pretty surprised at how high the things can jump! They have already worked out how to escape their run (will have to do some further chickenproofing…) so there needs to be somewhere safe for them to run around. The RSPCA is the best authority on good practices with keeping chickens in your own garden.

More posts will follow once the ladies start laying, or do something more interesting… like learn to cluck properly!

 

p.s. Yeah so the chickens have learned how to escape. Our very kind neighbours have put them back and shut them in for the night while we were at the cinema, but fortifications will have to be made tomorrow! More to follow…

Elderflower Cordial

It’s my guess that most people in the UK will stroll past an elderflower bush at least once on a day to day basis. It’s an absolute nuisance to get rid of (you can cut it back and basically watch it regrow) but extremely useful to the home cook and brewer. At this time of year the bushes are flowering producing strongly scented white flowers, and they are amazing for making both cordial and wine.

I have based my recipe on the BBC one by Lotte Duncan – I personally add a little less lemon and a bit more citric acid, and make it in bulk, so the recipe below is a slightly customised version!

Picking your elderflowers

Most advice is to do it on a warm, dry day. Fewer bugs about on the plant, nice dry flowers, and you can get a better whiff of the pollen to see if it is a good healthy plant. Alternatively, if like me you get dreadful hayfever, do it on a fairly miserable wet day and spare yourself the sneezing! You want to pick fresh flowers –  no buds, and no brown bits. Equally, don’t strip out each bush – you’ll want to leave some flowers for elderberries later in the year! Don’t pick them in advance – you will want to use them straight away.

A quick note on citric acid…

Citric acid is advised in most elderflower cordial. It acts as a preservative and is found naturally in citrus fruits. I personally find to get enough citric acid into the cordial to preserve it, it tastes overpoweringly lemon-y, so a tub of citric acid is very useful. Having said that – it’s a pain to get hold of. I have been reliably informed that it is used as an ingredient for class A drugs, so where it used to be easily bought from a large Boots store or chemist, it’s now much more restricted. If you’re lucky enough to have a brewing shop nearby, you should be able to buy some, but don’t be surprised if they don’t allow you to ‘stock up’! Wilkinson’s stores often stock it as well.

The recipe

Makes 9 pints cordial (if you’re not a piggy for cordial like me, then just half this!)

– 60 good-size elderflower heads

– 6 pints water

– 1.8 kilos sugar

– 4 unwaxed oranges

– 4 unwaxed lemons

– 100g citric acid

– 1 campden tablet (optional)

  • Boil up the water and add all the sugar. Stir constantly, and simmer for 5 mins. Leave to cool.
  • Gently rinse off the elderflower heads to get rid of the bugs. Then strip the flowers from the heads into a bowl. I find it’s easiest to do it with a fork.
  • Once the sugar mixture has cooled, chop up all your citrus fruit, and tip it in with the citric acid, and stir thoroughly. Add the elderflowers, and stir.
  • Leave for about 24-36 hours, and stir every few hours when you think of it.
  • Strain out the cordial through a sieve, and then squeeze the flowers for the last of the cordial. Pour into sterilised bottles. Drink it up over a few weeks, or add 1 powdered campden tablet – this should mean that it will keep somewhere cool pretty much indefinitely.

Water down the cordial to taste, and enjoy with sparkling water, lemonade, white wine, or ice cold water.

Baking your own bread

This is now basically part of my weekly routine. About 18 months ago, I read about just how bad for you processed white bread is and decided to learn to make my own bread. As it turns out, although getting the dough to my taste took a little while, the technique for bread making isn’t too difficult. I still love white bread – which is easier to make than brown – but have really enjoyed having fresh bread where I have seen exactly what has gone into it. Even if you don’t have time to make your own bread every week, it is a lovely skill to have, even for the occasional treat.

The yeast

As well as the quality of flour, the yeast is what will mainly determine the quality of your bread. You can buy dried quick yeast which is very convenient, but definitely not the best in terms of quality. It has the advantage that you can keep it in the cupboard pretty much forever, and you can literally just throw it into the bowl and it’s ready to go. However, better quality yeast will give you richer tasting bread.

Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco will often give you a chunk of fresh yeast for free/a few pennies, and this is by far the Rolls Royce of yeast. On the downside, it will only last you about two weeks in the fridge, and needs to be given a bit of time to get up to room temperature and to ‘wake up’ in some warm sugary water. I’m making my first experiments with caked yeast next week, so will report back!

The middle road option is live granulated yeast. I strongly recommend Allinson’s tinned Dried Active Yeast – it keeps well, tastes pretty good and is easy enough to use. Like the live yeast cake, it will want a little bit of ‘waking up’ time (about 15 mins) but the results are far superior.

 The recipe

So let’s start at the basics… white bread!

You will need:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp quick yeast OR 1tbsp live yeast

 – If you’re using quick yeast, then mix together all the dry ingredients, and then rub in the butter. Gradually add the water – it’s best to mix it with your hands.

 – If you’re using active yeast you’ll need to do a little more preparation. For the granulated yeast, whisk a teaspoon of sugar into half the warm water, then whisk in the yeast. Leave it somewhere warm for 15 mins to froth up! Add to the dry ingredients, then use the remaining 150 ml to swill out the bowl the yeast was in, and add it to the mixture as well.

 – You’ll then need to knead your dough! This video shows you how to knead dough very well but if like me you can’t be bothered to click links, the idea is to stretch out your dough so that it rises properly. Place it on a lightly floured counter and hold the dough against the counter with one hand. With the heel of your other hand, stretch the dough out away from you along the counter.  You want to stretch the dough not break it, so stop before you end up with two separate balls of dough. Be firm, but gentle! Fold it back into a ball and turn 90*. Wash, rinse, repeat! It will take about ten minutes in total. The dough will look and feel smooth, elastic and springy. When you poke your finger in it, the dent should stay there and slowly spring back.

 – Well done! Now leave the dough to prove: put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl covered with a damp cloth until doubled in size. On a nice warm day this takes about an hour, in winter I give it an hour and a half. Get the kettle on!

– Once your dough has risen, tip it out of the bowl and knead it lightly. This is called knocking it back. The idea is just to gently squash out the dough, not to pulverise it. Once you have done this, either smooth it off into a nice round for a ‘farmhouse’ loaf (god alone knows why it’s called that – surely they have loaf tins on farms!) and put it on a baking tray, or put it in a lightly oiled loaf tin. Rub a little oil over the surface of the dough and prove for another 40 mins.

– Preheat the oven to 200* when the dough has nearly done proving. Bake at 200* for 10 mins, then turn down to 180* for another 15-20 mins. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. If you’ve done it in a tin you’ll obviously need to take it out to test this – putting it back in the oven without the tin will make a crispier crust so if it needs a little longer bear this in mind. If you want a nice crunchy crust you should give it abother 3 mins or so without the tin.

 – Here’s the difficult bit – once that bread is done, DO NOT CUT IT UP UNTIL IT IS COOL(ish). It continues steaming and cooking while it is hot for one thing, the bread will risk going a bit dry if you cut it too soon. Similarly, the bread will still be steamy and sticky – if you crush the loaf while it is hot, it will stay that way! I usually try to get it so that the first slice you get is just warm enough to melt a little butter 🙂

And that ladies and gents, is how you do white bread! Enjoy 🙂