I know it's crazy. After all, lots of people (my mum included) make bread most days so it can't be that difficult. Even I have made some successful focaccias, baguettes and other loaves of bread in the past.
But I can't help it. I feel nervous every time I'm faced with flour, yeast and water. I worry that the water may not be warm enough or, even worse, that it may be too hot. I ask myself whether I am using the right sort of yeast and enough of it. Will the bread rise? And much more importantly, will it taste good?
I've decided to face the fear. Bread is one of the most basic foodstuffs of all. People have been making it - without fuss, anxiety or worry - for centuries. So, I've set myself a challenge. I'm going to bake a loaf of bread every second day or so until I've mastered a selection of breads that I like and can make a loaf in minutes - just like my mum does.
I'm starting with what Jamie liver calls his 'basic bread recipe'. Here goes...
1 kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour
625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
30g fresh yeast or three of those 7g or 1/4 oz sachets of dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 level tablespoons sea salt
Extra flour for dusting
(I was making a loaf of bread to last two people for two days so I divided these ingredients by three to make one loaf. Alternatively, I could have made three loaves and frozen two of them. That's what I'll do next time.)
The crust has got a crunchy bite. The bread inside is pillowy soft and light. What more could anyone ask of their first loaf of bread?
Face the fear, I tell you. It's worth it.