Anyone who bakes bread extols the pleasures of the process.
The ritual of kneading the dough is surprisingly cathartic and then there's the act of patience, whether it's waiting on the dough to prove or simply holding back long enough for that piping hot loaf to cool down so you can slice it and tuck in. Best of all is the sense of anticipation created by the delicious smells. Few domestic chores can elicit such delight.
Man has been making flatbread since Neolithic times, with the Egyptians introducing leavened bread around 4000 BC. Simple to make, with basic ingredients, its popularity is on the rise (ahem) with home cooks again thanks to baking shows like Great British Bake Off, and its Irish counterpart, we now know that baking bread, is not rocket science. Any restaurant worth its salt bakes its own bread, and it's often the first thing we taste from their kitchen when we dine out.
With Belfast Restaurant Week fast approaching we asked the award-winning team at James Street South to share some recipes for their delicious breads. Novices can dive in with the traditional soda farl, a simple stove-top bread made with buttermilk while more confident bakers will be so bowled over by their first loaf of focaccia that it may well become their new go-to recipe.
If you'd rather let someone else do the hard work in the kitchen then point yourself northwards and make a date with Belfast Restaurant Week.
The upcoming festival offers dozens of exciting food and drink events in landmark eateries, including James Street South. (www.jamesstreetsouth.co.uk) Belfast Restaurant Week takes place from October 4-11, with booking for all events essential. www.visit-belfast.com