Saturday, July 16, 2022

Joy of Baking a Loaf of Bread

Time, love and patience are the secret ingredients for a crusty, golden bread loaf

                                               Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

“No matter the weather outside, the smell of fresh-baked bread can lift your spirits on a cold day”- unknown.

During my career, I had no time to focus on creative activities in the kitchen. Once I had given up my 9 am to 5 pm job, I had an opportunity to reset my goals and focus more on things that matter in life. It included healthy eating, spending more time with family, investing time in learning new skills and, more importantly, baking treats. I tried recipes I had collected but never had the time to cook.

Baking, I found, was one of the best ways to relax. It triggered many happy memories for me. The smell of vanilla, cinnamon and other ingredients brought back childhood memories of my mom’s kitchen.

During the pandemic, when we were all stuck indoors due to the lockdown, I decided to try my hand at bread making.

Baking bread, I am told, is therapy. Experts say bake your bread if you can’t meditate.

I have always been a bread lover. Baking bread turned out to be a very satisfying experience for me. I love the smell of freshly baked bread. The finished crust, as seen in the picture below, is what makes me happy. Time, love and patience are what helped me bake this bread.

Crusty golden bread fresh from the author's oven

                                A slice of bread with a hot cup of coffee -picture from the author's album

Baking benefits

Baking bread has taught me to be patient. A lot of critical baking tasks required me to wait. For example, I had to wait for the yeast to activate. Even though I was tempted to fast forward, I had to wait and picture myself with the crusty golden end product.

I realized you don’t need to read books to understand patience. Bake bread in your kitchen and you will have practical lessons in patience. The yeast works at its own speed to double the size of the dough. You cannot rush it even if you want.

Besides teaching patience, homemade bread is a lot healthier. I could control the ingredients and use whole wheat flour instead of refined flour. I could use herbs of my choice to customize and make it tastier. I avoid adding preservatives and artificial ingredients, which the store-made bread has, as I don’t need to increase the shelf life. Homemade bread is enjoyed as soon as it is out of the oven.

The added benefit of baking bread at home was I could finish listening to a few chapters of the audiobook while kneading the dough.

It is also cheaper to make your bread at home.

Nothing is more satisfying than the smell and taste of freshly baked bread just out of the oven.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” — M.F.K. Fisher

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