I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

7/06/2005

Relaxation

I made fresh bread Monday. I used to make it more frequently than I do now, but time is a real consideration when making bread and I have little to spare . It's about a three and a half hour project. Of course, 2 hours of that is for proofing the bread and 35 minutes for cooking, so you can do other things, but you have to be around.
Bread making, other than being time-consuming, really isn't as difficult as you might think. The majority of the ingredients are commonplace-flour, sugar, salt, milk or water, shortening. The only other ingredient is yeast. The only specialty equipment that's good to have is a thermometer, used to check the temperature of the water the yeast is put into. Other than that, a big bowl, measuring cups and measuring spoons are it.
One of the things I enjoy about the process is the smell once you add the yeast to the mixture. It is a basic, primal, comforting fragrance.
Once everything is mixed together, you let the bread sit under an overturned bowl for ten minutes to rest. Then comes the best part other than actually eating. The kneading.
Properly done, bread requires 6 to 8 minutes of firm, continuous kneading. And it is one of the most relaxing things I have ever done. It is one of the few times my mind actually seems to take a rest and just focuses on the rhythm and movement of the process. Push with the flat of the hands, fold over and do a quarter-turn. Press, fold, and turn. Again and again for a minimum of six minutes. The combination of primal fragrance, soft texture and monotonous rhythm is almost a form of self-hypnosis for me. I don't really even have to think about what I'm doing. Even better, I don't need to think. I am so relaxed that I feel like I'm just drifting.
I can tell when the bread has been kneaded enough. Instead of a semi-loose sticky mass, it becomes as soft and round as a baby's butt. It is placed in a greased bowl, covered and left to rise until doubled in size. Then the dough is knocked down, separated into halves, shaped into loaves and put in pans and left to rise again for about an hour. Then it is cooked for approximately 30-35 minutes. The smell of fresh bread baking is incredible. It will fill a house.
Once the bread is done, you are supposed to let the bread sit until cooled. I have never been able to do it. Usually after about 5 minutes, I have to cut an end piece off and butter it and eat it right away. Fresh, hot buttered bread is so good. It melts in the mouth.
Bread is the most basic of prepared foods. Historically, it is found in almost all cultures and the ingredients don't vary much. Honey in the place of sugar, various liquids, but the basic formula remains the same.
If anyone has ever thought about it or wondered about making bread on their own, I would encourage them to do it at least once. Find a good, simple, instructional recipe and try it. You may be surprised at what you can do.

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