Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name."

I am contemplating a serious subject this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Very serious, indeed. The subject today is food. More specifically, Bread.

Many of you may wonder, why today? Why Bread?
Well, like my somewhat good friend Emily Dickinson here, I am contemplating making it.

"I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, saleratus, etc., with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don't know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch."
Emily Dickinson

*saleratus is baking soda, used to make the bread rise, fyi.

And also like Emily Dickinson, I advise you that if you don't know already how to make bread, learn immediately. Nothing will bless your home, family and mental health more than to learn how to make bread from scratch.


People have made bread for THOUSANDS of years without some utterly non-essential machine making bread for them.

Find a recipe.
Mix it together.

It is a sticky, messy, fantastically glorious exercise and you will become a better person, I guarantee it. If you don't believe me, listen to M.F.K Fisher.

"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."
M. F. K. Fisher, 'The Art of Eating'

(I didn't know who M.F.K. Fisher was either, before I posted her quote, but in case you were wondering, she was a well-respected author who wrote a lot about food. Now I am interested in reading more about her. I think she's making a lot of sense here.)

You are certainly welcome to imagine me covered in flour from toe to tip, because that is usually what tends to happen. EVERY TIME. And yet, I continue to make it. Sometimes, I even make bread in black clothes, which you would think a normal person endowed with a even a little common sense would realize that white flour shows up really well on black clothes. And yet, I have yet to learn.

Why do I continue to do it? There are many reasons. Top of the list is that is just tastes so GOOD. Seriously, if you haven't had the pleasure of eating real, homemade bread, you haven't really lived. (Also, if you have not ever had homemade bread, please tell me so I can make you some. No one should ever live without real bread.) Other reasons include it's relaxing, fulfilling, and a great way to serve somebody. It's really lovely to go up to someone and hand them a warm loaf of bread. It's a great connection between you and them. You put a lot of time and effort into that bread. The recipient is going to spend not quite as much time eating it, but they will certainly be enjoying it as much as you enjoyed making it. At least, that is what I have noticed. Nothing smells quite like home, as fresh bread baking.

"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight."
M. F. K. Fisher

Anyways. I will leave you with these thoughts. Make bread. Be Happy. And remember, the best bread is the kind you make at home.

"Without wishing in the slightest degree to disparage the skill and labour of breadmakers by trade, truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own homes."
Eliza Acton, 'Modern Cookery for Private Families' (1845)

Also, it's rude to preach without offering some sort of redemption, so I'd thought I'd share some of my favorite bread recipes. Both are delicious and satisfying.

White Bread (approx. 2 loaves)
6 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
(almost) 1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup powdered milk

yeast mixture: 1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast

Directions: prepare yeast then combine dry ingredients together in breadpan. When yeast is ready put 2 cups water, yeast mixture, and 2 good sized globs of shortening into the dry ingredients. Mix bread until it does not need any more flour. Knead for 10-12 min more. Cover and let rise for 2 hrs. Punch down and divide into 2 loaves. Put loaves into pans and let rise for 40 min. Bake at 425 for 15 min, then turn down to 275 for 30 min. Remove read and butter immediately. Serve Hot!

Sweet Roll Dough
3/4 cup scalded milk
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
2-3 large eggs
3/4 cup shortening or butter
5-6 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water (add a little sugar to help the yeast to grow). Stir in milk (after you scalded it), sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix together, then add the rest of the flour. Knead and let rise for 1 1/2 hrs. Shape in whatever kind of rolls you like best. (I always make Parker House style which involves rolling out the dough, cutting it out with a large cup like sugar cookies, then folding them in half and baking them, also this is the same recipe I use for making cinnamon rolls, so you could make them too.) Let rise 30 min. Bake at 375 for about 10 min or until golden brown.

1 comment:

  1. I can't even tell you how happy I am that you posted your recipe I LOVE those rolls! So so so so so delicious!

    Also, I love you! You're the best. Really.