Have you had any really “good” bread lately? The kind of bread with a crust that has just the right amount of crunch, the inside just the right amount of chewiness. The kind of bread with a rich, tangy aroma when you break it open. The kind of bread that sings when you slather it with butter. Ah, heaven.
So many people will never know what real bread is, have never sunk their teeth into a chunk of warm, chewy, dense bread freshly made by a pair of human hands.
Why? Convenience, mainly, I think. Our lives, so busy with rushing here and there, necessitate that we fly into the grocery store to grab a plastic encased loaf of sliced flavourless fluff, to be dropped into a toaster and covered with Skippy, or filled with slimy deli meat and processed cheese.
But if you’ve ever made bread at home, you would have the opportunity to experience bread in a completely different way. The way it was meant to be enjoyed.
First is the yeast, which needs a bit of sweetness and warmth to grow and bloom. And patience. Like love. Add to that flour, a bit of salt, maybe a little butter or oil, or more exotic ingredients, if that is your inclination. Mixed together, the dough becomes more than the sum of its parts. It becomes a living thing!
With patience the dough will rise, but it cannot become all it can be without being pushed and pulled, folded and kneaded, finally left to rise again before being shaped then placed carefully into the heat.
Making bread is truly an art, for no two bakers make exactly the same bread, and no two loaves are exactly the same. It is an act of love, since really, for whom would you expend so much effort and time than for someone you love, even if it is only for yourself.
So the next time you pass a bakery, one that displays its golden loaves of handmade bread, take a moment out of your busy day to experience a small slice of joy. Slathered with butter, of course!