After my reasonably successful pretzels, I decided to start baking more. I promise not to get totally crazy, but a few incredible loaves of whole wheat bread might go a long way to fixing what ails me. There’s something wonderfully soothing about kneading bread. Kneading is fundamental. Basic. And you get some really great bread, too.
Kneading not only produces wonderful bread, the smell of which can lure a dead man from his coffin, but it also feels good. You dig your palms into the dough. It oozes up between your fingers. Grab a handful of fresh flour and the dough gets a little less sticky and a little more like warm bread-to-be.
But when you’re digging into the raw dough before it has risen once or twice, it sticks to everything. Flour gets everywhere. When you’re baking, the world knows.
If you ever want to feel totally helpless, get a phone call in the middle of dough prep. You can’t go near a phone or even a doorknob. Until you’re past the sticky, gooey, gluey phase, you are completely immersed in the project.
Your hair and clothing are white from flour. But, after you get the dough ready to rise, put it in a warm place and watch it grow big and puffy. Punch it down and it grows twice as big. One more punch and then you dig the base of your palms into the dough and feel its warmth.
Yeast is warm as it grows. And it smells good, even before baking. Knead it. Not too much, not too little. You can feel when the dough becomes elastic.
Divide it, put it in loaf pans, or if your are shaping the bread yourself, on flat cookie sheets. Bake your heart out. Try not to eat it all in one sitting or for that matter, watch out for hungry friends carrying their own butter.
All of this is great, except that there’s no year or flour in the grocery so I had to order it. And there’s no point in ordering 5 pounds of flour, so I ordered 20 pounds. The price is, ironically, almost the same for a five pounder and 20 pounds.
I’ll try very hard to not mix the birdseed with the flour.
The problem? I got the 20-pounds of white flour today. But I won’t get the containers or yeast until next week. In the meantime, the kitchen is filling up. By the time I add all these canisters, I’m not sure where I can walk. There isn’t much floor space already. maybe it’s time to do something with that old table in the corner.
Eventually, it will all come together and maybe it will keep me from worrying about how we are going to repair the back door, boiler, and the deck.