It was my first time. The instruction manual said that I was dealing with a science not an art – and that I shouldn’t open the lid.
While the dough is kneading I feed the cat. She’s uneasy because of the machine’s churning noise. In the end I take pity on her and move the dish out into the hallway where she can eat in peace.
Through the window the kneading stage is uninspiring; a clod of dough lurching. I wonder what the window is there for; perhaps it’s so the yeast can look out.
My mother in law just phoned. She says a bread-maker is a waste of time and money, ‘It’s easier to buy loaves in the supermarket’. She complained about a few other things too. In the end I told her I had people coming round for supper and had to watch the food.
The smell of yeast reminds me of summers with my grandfather. He used to bake flowerpot bread in a huge Aga at the back of his house. The heat was intense even on the coldest days.
Through the tiny window of my bread-maker I can see the dough beginning to rise. Its skin is taught – pregnancy the colour of sour milk. It has no elegance.
Part of me still lingers at my grandfather’s house; standing in the back door, watching the Hercules burst their cargo of parachutes in a long ragged line. Sometimes the smell of aircraft fuel mixed with the smell of fresh bread.
Today the back door opens into an alley of dustbins and rusting kitchen appliances. The bread machine counts down the minutes of its cook cycle.
The loaf is beginning to brown; textured with the smell of dried summers.
Outside the window there is butter waiting.
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