Wednesday, February 27, 2013


When I was in college my roommate taught me how to bake bread. We didn't use recipes, just combined the flour, yeast, salt and liquids until they felt right. Then we'd knead the dough, let it rise, knead it again and shape it into loaves. Soon the wonderful smell of fresh bread would float from the oven.

Later some of my foster kids were on special diets, so I baked the bread for our family every week. While doing it I'd always think about all the people in history, mostly women, who had baked the bread for their families.

Historically almost every culture where people lived in one place long enough to farm had grains and made them into some kind of bread. Rice cakes, corn bread, tortillas, flat breads, pancakes, and various crackers don't need yeast. Some Native Americans even made bread from acorn meal. And various ingredients like baking soda and baking powder can be used to make things like biscuits.

But, to me, there's something special about the feel of dough as it moves and grows because of the live yeast.

Now I have a bread-making machine that does most of the work for me when I want fresh bread, and it does produce the same odor and taste of handmade bread. But maybe soon I'll make some again by hand just to reaffirm my connection with all the other women who have baked bread for centuries.

Hope I can remember how.

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