So tonight I was going through recipes online, whilst the amazing Abby and I were talking.
And I got to thinking about why I like baking so much.
And I realized something quite profound.
There is a reason why I like baking, why it’s become something of a nightly ritual for me. Well, there are several reasons, but there is one big one that I have come to realize.
Baking bread, at least to me, is quite metaphorical for life. More specifically, the shit life throws at us.
Unless you’ve ever handmade bread, it’s a difficult feeling to explain. But I’ll try.
All bread consists of primarily the same ingredients. But it’s the differences that make each bread unique, so when measuring your ingredients, you have to make sure you do it carefully. Subtle undertones of cinnamon or nutmeg, pungent garlic or melty cheese–some breads begin plain but become great, others can be disappointments.
Some breads are right for some occasions: a think slice of cinnamon ginger spice bread dusted over with powdered sugar isn’t right with your spaghetti, nor is a still singing loaf of garlic parmesan right for the office Christmas party. It’s a matter of choosing your situations carefully.
But no matter what type of bread you’re making, from the heaviest sourdough to the lightest of pastries–they all start out the same, as dough.
The thing I like best about bread is that it is alive. The yeast that makes the bread rise is alive and has to be carefully tended to before you even begin to make the bread. If your water is too cold, it will die. If your water is too hot, it will die. If you don’t give it sugar, it doesn’t have anything to feed on and will die. Nurturing your yeast–taking responsibility—is one of the most important things you can do to make bread.
Then begins the waiting game. And anyone who know me know that I am not a patient person. Some recipes call for waiting 15 minutes, others call for 8 hours in a refrigerator to let the bread rise. But you have to. You have to wait, or the bread won’t cook right. Patience, as it were, is crucial.Timing is everything.
And sometimes, no matter how carefully you measure the ingredients, the dough gets really sticky.
When the dough gets sticky, there is only one thing you can do. You have to knead it. And it SUCKS kneading sticky dough. It gets all over your hands and the table and is a bitch to do. But you have to keep at it.
Sometimes it takes a long time to work out. And sometimes it just needs a few minutes of work to come out alright.
But the trick to successful bread is that you have to keep with it. You can’t give up in the middle of things because it seems as though there is no hope. Because things do, usually work out for the best.
And sometimes the dough falls, or the bread burns. It’s just a fact of life. Sometimes things don’t turn out as expected. Maybe your oven was too hot or too cold or your pan wasn’t floured or sundry other problems that can come up. Hell, even the weather that day can affect things.
But the most important thing with bread is that you make the best out of things. Maybe you only get half a loaf. Maybe you make croutons, or bread pudding,or stuffing, or a pie crust. Hell, maybe you just take it down by the river and feed the birds.
But the best part is that tomorrow you can wake up and try again.
Think about it.