Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Daily Bread

Few things are as comforting as the aroma of fresh baked bread drifting through the kitchen. Even better is slicing through its crunchy crust and breathing in the steam. Add butter. Bliss.

But it seems that these days, homemade bread is something of a novelty. It’s a specialty item for a special meal, or the perfect gift to deliver to a sick friend. One of my pals bakes bread in between jobs, because being home all day allows for the waiting, the punching down, the waiting, the baking, the waiting.

That’s probably why homemade bread is a rarity. Too much waiting. Who has the time or attention span? Even my retired grandmother is too busy with her volunteer schedule, church duties, and daily routine to consider baking bread. What a luxury that would be!

And yet we pray that God would be so generous as to give us our daily bread

My parents are extreme hobbyists. When they find a new one, they research every square inch before diving in with complete dedication. Bread is the perfect example. Well, flour, to be exact.

Last year, Mom and Dad decided they wanted to make their own bread from scratch–and I mean, scratch. They found a farmer who would sell them wheat berries in bulk. They invested in a hand operated wheat grinder. They experimented with recipes, and now, they have perfected a recipe for a delectable whole wheat loaf.

During their research my folks learned an interesting thing: flour doesn’t last very long. Wheat berries can stay sealed in a cool, dry place for months, but as soon as they’re ground, the little jewels start loosing nutritional value. In fact, fresh flour is at its nutritional peak for just about one day.

Give us our daily bread.

I realize that being able to grind flour and bake bread on a daily basis is a long shot for many of us. In fact, insisting on it would probably complicate our lives, rather than simplify. But I wonder what other benefits we might reap by regularly engaging in the ritual of mixing, waiting, punching, waiting, baking, waiting… What rewards might we find beyond the satisfaction a thick, warm slice of bread? Perhaps an better exercise in simplicity is to be intentional with the time. To pay attention during the waiting, spend it in prayer, or meditation, and ultimately being grateful for a generous God who supplies our so many needs, every day.

Realistically, baking bread requires more time than many of us have to offer on a regular basis. Still, there is a way to mix rich, delicious, whole grain bread into your routine if you have five minutes to spare before bedtime.

Mix together in your largest mixing bowl (I use a 2 gallon bucket):

3 cups of warm water
1 Tablespoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of active dry yeast
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup millet
4 cups bread flour

Cover the mixture with a towel and leave on your counter over night. While you’re sleeping, the bread dough will rise and fall. In the morning, (or whenever you’re ready for fresh bread), oil two standard bread pans and fill each with half the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you knock on it. TIP: I often bake one loaf on Sunday afternoon and leave the other in the fridge covered in plastic wrap to be baked later in the week. Of course, baking both loaves and giving one away could be a whole new layer of this practice of daily bread baking.

Published in the March, 2014 edition of Messenger magazine.