Monday, December 27, 2010


Today I made and baked bread for the first time. Bread made with yeast and kneaded by hand. I have of course made all manner of quick breads: corn bread, muffins, that sort of thing. Not real bread, though. I do have a memory of making little loaves in my mother's oven for some kind of school project, and the funny thing is I don't remember yeast or kneading, but I do remember that the bread rose. Maybe my memory is faulty.

I have two roundish loaves cooling on a rack and of course I could not resist cutting into one and tasting it before it was completely cool. It was good.

These are whole wheat loaves, 100% whole wheat. The recipe is the "Plain and Simple" bread from the Cheese Board's book. I don't own loaf pans, and I don't like pan-shaped bread anyway, so I made rounds (one is actually an oval) and I sprayed the loaves, as they say you should to get more of a crust. It worked, but I need an oven thermometer. I think the oven was too hot. I followed the directions religiously because I wanted to make the basic recipe first and then fiddle with it once I had the hang of it, and the directions said 450 degrees for 5 minutes and then 400. Crust nearly burned. Anyway, I am pleased with myself and with the bread, the house smelled a little like France all of a sudden, and kneading really does get out your aggressions.

I still have writer's block, though. My latest Facebook update says "baking bread and battling writer's block." I need to stay off Facebook. Which mostly I do when I am writing. I am working on a book chapter and now that it is late at night and the bread is out it will probably start "cookin'," but I am trying not to stay up too late, so I'll have to go to bed trusting that the words and more importantly, the sentences will appear in the morning.

Some of this, as I mentioned in the last day or so, is undoubtedly related to the way in which my job drains me of my own writing voice and of much of my energy, but there are other causes too. At any rate, analyzing my writing process is not my purpose here and does not belong here.

The wonderful Fran (formerly of FranIAm blog), who is a dear friend and spiritual sister, now has a blog called There Will Be Bread and there she writes with great fluency and beauty, straight from the heart, and with a good mind, too. I on the other hand am rather dry these days. At least, though, there is bread with crust and crumb, right here, tonight.

Holy One of Blessing, your presence fills creation, bringing forth bread from the earth.*

* Contemporary translation, in inclusive language, of the traditional Jewish ha-motzi, the blessing over the bread.

Photos: Jane Redmont

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