Food

Baking Bread

Lately I have been baking bread. Like every week. I was inspired by reading the book Sourdough, but then I took it to a whole new level. I went to a website called the fresh loaf and read their handbook. I became fascinated by baking ratios and obsessively checking my dough with the windowpane test. I bought a proofing bowl and looked up what to do if you over proof your bread. I am now immersed in the details the small motions and the way you make bread matters. The ingredients are few and simple but the process matters. How you take flour, water, salt and yeast or starter can have dramatically different results.

I started baking bread in college, more out of necessity than by choice. Bread was cheap and could easily be topped with butter and honey for an exciting treat. Also my roommate had started baking bread and it gave me the idea. Sometimes my bread didn’t cook all the way through but the mistakes made the successes all the sweeter.

My current bread obsession has become more technical and precise. I weigh all my ingredients. I try to ensure I follow the proper steps for bread making. I consider how I do things and why I do them that way. I alter and tweak and make changes. I am not done, and I am not sure I ever will be. After mastering my basic sourdough loaf, I plan on moving on to other forms of bread.

I love baking bread. I love the way it takes an entire day or maybe two. I love kneading the dough to perfection. I love how it forces you to be present, to think about this loaf as it’s own unit.

The only downside to my bread obsession is sometimes it is hard to eat all this bread throughout the week. My husband and I have managed it so far, but I am not sure that will keep. Also a side note, every book you read about bread tells you to wait for it to cool for an hour before eating it, which makes sense if you want to keep it around in the long term, but I have to be honest, there is nothing better than fresh bread straight from the oven, still warm with a little bit of butter. It never tastes the same the next day even if you haven’t cut into your loaf.

I met with a friend a week or two ago and told her about my bread obsession and she called it passion. I think this is true, I love the practice, I love the research, I love the repetition and altering small things along the way. I love baking bread and it is something I am passionate about. I care about each loaf. I take the time to be present with each loaf. I enjoy it all.

What are you passionate about? Are there any foods you have deep dived into because you love them so much?

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