I’m so excited, and surprised, I couldn’t wait to share this: I just baked my first loaf of bread, ever!
Now, maybe for longtime cooks – maybe even everybody, for all I know – it’s no big deal to bake a loaf of bread. But for me, it’s a big deal. I just made it from scratch.
I actually have ordered a bread maker, but it hasn’t arrived yet. And I got to thinking: Hmmm, maybe I could try making one loaf from scratch. If it’s too difficult and I can’t do it, then I’ll have the bread making machine.
So, I bought some flour and some yeast. I followed the directions: well, sort of. My first attempt ended up being a big, gooey mess. I threw it out and tried again. And, voila!
Actually, this is part of a process that started last summer when I read Michael Pollen’s book, Cooked. In it, he goes to great lengths to explain how “iffy” is modern bread bought at the grocery. He also details his odyssey toward making his own bread.
First, I thought, gosh, I didn’t know there was that much to making bread!
Second, I started exploring new breads – their taste, texture, and various types. (At Kripalu, I think my friends thought I was crazy: they make three or four different breads for each meal, and I was snarfing down slices from all of them!)
Third, I thought, hmmm, I could do this!
My initial thought was that I would buy a bread making machine and then, if it wasn’t too hard to learn how to do, then I would try baking from scratch. But, somehow, that got turned around.
As I’m writing this, my next loaf is on the kitchen table, rising, before being put into the oven.
For these loaves, I used store bought yeast and ground organic whole wheat flour. At some point, I want to cultivate my own (sourdough) yeast, and grind my own flour. I also plan to make my own butter. And, of course, I already have my own honey (thanks to my sweet bees!).
Making bread is quite a sensual experience. If that sounds strange, well, I don’t know what to say, except that when you are rolling the dough on the board and in your hands, it feels quite alive! I started thinking of the dough as a person; a living being that required tender care, caresses. It felt alive in my hands. When I put it in the oven, I apologized to it; hoping that I had done everything right, and it would mature into the substantial, healthy, nutritious bread that it could be in the right hands, with the right cook. I felt a sense of responsibility, and some worry.
So, when it came out of the oven and, after it had sufficiently cooled, I was able to slice it and look at its texture, and taste it, and saw that it was good — just perfect! — I was elated!
So, now, I’m enjoyed fresh made bread, from scratch! Loaf number three is in the oven, filling the house with the delightful scent of fresh-baked bread!
New adventures await!
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit blueskywaters.com.