My memory is not what it was. Actually, I’m not quite sure I can remember the last time it was what it was. At work we dictate the vast majority of our documents and lots of them have numbered paragraphs or bullet points or ‘what have you’s in them. I’ll start out quite confidently and then by the time I get to three or four I’ve completely lost track and my lovely secretary gets the joys of transcribing “number whatever we’ve got to” into some sort of coherent legalese.
Given that such antics clearly pre-date Elma’s arrival, if not Kitty’s, I’m not sure I can convincingly blame it on Mama-brain. Perhaps, after all this time, a youth acquiring reams of useless information is catching up with me by means of a shortage of available space.
However, by the powers of deduction (a quick search through the archives) I declare that the Milk Loaf (page 23) is the sixth of the 100 Great Breads.
It’s probably my favourite so far, a very English teatime kind of a loaf, but not the cucumber sandwiches and delicate china kind of tea,. A nursery tea loaf, of the bread-and-butter kind, only to be served in slices thicker than your finger, with at least half an inch of jam slathered on top (or marmalade if your fancy takes you) . I’m certain that if Enid Blyton had ever given out recipes, this is the bread that the Famous Five used to mop up all that ginger beer.
But perhaps this is an occasion where recollection is as strong as reality. The bread has a slightly sweet taste, on the road to brioche, and under more dextrous hands than mine, I suspect it could be thinly sliced for an elegant presentation, but from the first mouthful I knew that this was in fact a concertina loaf.
My Mum had a concertina loaf tin which lived on the shelf of the bottom cupboard above the grapefruit squash from where it would wobble unceremoniously into the kneecaps of anyone who opened the door with unnecessary force, or who was unlucky enough to open the door after someone (probably usually me) had shut it rather too vigorously.
I don’t know whether it was ever meant to have a top half to produce a perfectly cylindrical loaf. Ours didn’t, producing the rather curious effect of a traditional loaf shape on the top, and beautiful semi-circular ridges on the bottom. Once the carving parent had pinned it to the bread board we would each be presented with a delicious thick ridge to smother in butter. It rarely lasted long enough to get cool.
Mum didn’t make it very often, perhaps due to the challenge of keeping a semi-circular tin upright in the oven (I’ve no idea how she did it, there certainly weren’t any feet on the tin or anything clever like that), so it always felt like a treat.
This milk loaf is the second incarnation, after the first disappeared rapidly with the assistance of summer fruit jam, marmalade, and soup (though not all at once (at least, not by me)), and that I think says it all.
This one is going in the repeats list.