I've been thinking a lot about bread lately, perhaps because we're moving and the kitchen has been packed away. It makes me long for things I haven't baked in a while, like fresh crusty rolls. There's something cathartic about bread making. I think it has to do with the process of creating a dough and then leaving it alone to do it's thing. Even though you may have brought it to life, what it does most of the important work on its own. There's magic in yeast and when you check back in to see how the dough has risen, filling with bubbles and seeming to have a breath of its own, you feel the power of your food. When it's baking and the aroma fills the air, you feel warm and happy inside. And after you've waited, not so patiently, for the bread to cool, you are rewarded by something warm and crisp just waiting to be enjoyed. Good bread usually feels lighter than it looks, with a crackling exterior that breaks open to release even more of that comforting, slightly sweet, yeasty scent of warm bread. The first bite can be transcendent and the next, even better. I like to savor the first couple of bites before adding butter, so that it can add it's own sweet, creamy flavor to blend. A few grains of coarse salt for crunch and the bread is transformed, with new textures and deeper dimensions of flavor. It's that experience that draws me back to the kitchen again and again, to create something of my own. Knowing that I've used the best ingredients and put a little of myself into a meal makes it taste even better. That love of food that fires my passion for cooking, no matter who it's for or what their dietary restrictions may be. Whenever I small freshly baked bread it reminds me that cooking is a privilege that I heartily embrace.
*If this makes you want to bake bread, try our Fail Safe Bread Recipe.
March 15, 2011