“I’m sorry dear I’ve only managed to get rid of one of the baby Hermans for you” said Hubby.

So what do I do with the other baby Herman currently gurgling away in the fridge?

I looked at the website and saw a recipe for sourdough bread. “Well I could make bread with it, but you’ll have to help me with the kneading” I told Hubby. (I’ve just been told I have heart trouble and to rest.)

So after buying some organic white flour, we set to work. “You’ll need this” I said, as I tied the apron round his back. “Knead for 15 minutes” I told him, and sat on the kitchen stool with my watch to time it. As I watched, a smile slowly spread across his face. Could he possibly be enjoying himself here, this bloke whose major culinary achievement is a bacon sarnie?

The day after, it was time to knock back the dough and do the second kneading. I was all for doing that myself, but no – he got there first, got the flour out and floured the worktop, and stood and patiently pushed out each one of the big bubbles as I watched. Yes that smile was still there!

Later that day we baked the bread, which rose and looked exactly the same as the photo on the website. However, it was Sunday and we’d just had Sunday lunch and we were stuffed! Not even the promise of freshly baked buttered bread could tempt either of us to try it. Oh well, I thought as I wrapped the loaf and put it in the fridge, I’ll have to find something to do with it tomorrow.

On the way home from work I asked Hubby what he would like for tea. “Have you got anything we could have bread with? Only I thought we could try the Herman loaf…” Then I realised he was hooked on Herman! It must be something about the hands-on approach, or the tending with love and care for 10 days, or the finding homes for it just as you’d find homes for kittens, or looking at it each day on the work surface as it grows… whatever, Herman had worked his magic.

So I changed my mind and did a fry-up for tea. I’d noticed on the website the comment that the bread was better toasted, so I toasted the bread and made sure there was enough butter to sink into the warm crispy bread. Yes it was more a sort of brioche type bread, a little yellower than I’d expected perhaps, and certainly quite sweet. But as we cut into the bread, it was clear that all the attention Hubby had paid to getting the bubbles out of the mix had paid off. A dense, close crumb revealed itself as the knife cut easily through the loaf.

Now at this point I ought to confess to you that I am not a fan of sourdough bread. Our local farm shop has a bakery that only produces sourdough bread, and it all looks great but when you get it home, it’s all air and no bread. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m paying over £2 for a loaf I’d rather have bread than air! So that experience put me right off. Obviously they don’t have the attention to detail that Hubby possesses. He’s a geek with a tendency towards OCD. Possibly with Asperger’s syndrome. You get the point.

As we sat with our lovely fattening fry up, I saw Hubby mop up the eggy and beany juices with his toasty bread, still with the silly grin on his face, and I complimented him on the great job he’d done with the kneading. I wasn’t prepared for his reply. “When’s the next baking session due? How many spare baby Hermans will you have? What are you going to do with them? Can I make bread with one?”

So there you are, Herman, your magic bubbles have unlocked my Hubby’s passion for cookery. Oh hang on, that’s a bit of a strong statement, I’ll rephrase it. Hubby’s passion for kneading bread dough. Herman, I think your presence on my worktop is guaranteed from now on!

by Chris Ramsbottom