We Brits are hopeless, really. We spend much of the time moaning that we don't get proper winters any more, and then as soon as we do, we moan about that, too.
Still, there's no doubt that conditions have been, erm, a little challenging of late. I live in balmy south London, and even here, it's been difficult to get out for the past few days. Roads and pavements have been transformed into veritable ice rinks, and only now does the snow and ice seem finally to be melting away.
And wait - we'll moan about how everything looks dull and dreary again now it's not all covered in Narnian white... ;-)
Like many, the conditions outside have meant that I've been forced to resort to the freezer and the cupboards rather more than I would do usually, and I hit a particular crisis at the weekend when I ran out of bread.
Yikes! No bread??
And no bread flour or yeast, either. Hmmm. Or buttermilk. Or anything, really, that looked like it would help make some half-decent bread. Added to that was the slight dilemma that I'm a little intolerant to wheat, so I try to eat wheat-minimal bread if possible. Rye and spelt are my preferred alternatives - luckily for me, both flours make terrific bread. But on this occasion, I didn't have rye or spelt flour either.
Cue some frantic interwebby searching via that faithful friend, Google. And lo, shortly afterwards, I found an answer. Not the Holy Grail, perhaps, but certainly a potential worthy contender in the acceptable bread stakes.
Not that I wasn't a tad sceptical. American recipes with American measurements tend to do that to me. Although I have cup and tablespoon measures, I don't think they're greatly accurate to use in practice, and can sometimes be plain barking, especially for those of us in the UK. For instance, I recently came across a recipe which required 8 tablespoons of butter. I mean, really. The great oracle, Twitter, subsequently informed me that in the US, butter packs come with tablespoon measurements already marked on the wrapper. Well, that's great. In the UK, they don't.
Anyway, enough of that. The bread, people, the bread.
I read the recipe, read the reviews, and adjusted and tweaked to fit the ingredients I had. I shoved the dough in the tin, popped it in the oven, crossed my fingers, and left it to do whatever it was going to do. To say I wasn't overly hopeful would be putting it mildly.
Fifty minutes later, though, and I was preparing to eat humble pie. Or, to be more precise, warm, oaty bread. Because it worked. It worked brilliantly well. And moreover, it tasted great. If you've ever had soda bread, the taste and texture is much the same - which makes this oatmeal bread a complete winner for me since I happen to be a firm fan of soda stuff.
And the best thing? It's SO ridiculously quick and easy to make. The next best thing is that you don't need bread flour, yeast, or a bread maker. You need 2 bowls and a 2lb loaf tin or a baking sheet. And an oven, obviously. That's IT.
The recipe's here. I used SR flour + 0.5 tbsp of baking powder (and could have probably got away with using less, or even none). I used a very ordinary runny honey - it'd be easy to ring the changes with different varieties of honey. I forgot the salt (I'd recommend no more than a teaspoon, though, if you want to include it). I baked it for just over 50 minutes in all. It was that simple.
And I ate the lot.
And I won't be leaving it as an emergency recipe next time. This is going to be a regular in this household from now on.