Staff of Life

Written by Piers Cawley on

One of my earliest memories is of standing on a low stool, stirring a teaspoonful of sugar into fresh yeast to wake it up while mum heated a pan of milk to blood heat before everything all got mixed together to make a lovely, enriched bread dough that, now I think about it, I could probably make tomorrow without recourse to a recipe book.

She’d cover it with a teatowel and set it to rise, until the dough would be lifting the centre of the towel slightly. Once it was risen she’d tip the dough out and knock it back before dividing it up into buns and plaits (if I’d been good, I was allowed to do some plaiting…). She’d lay ‘em out on baking sheets to recover slightly, then, just before they went into the oven they’d get a quick egg or milk wash and a quick sprinkling of poppy seeds.