When the going gets tough, the not-so-tough start baking.
Sometimes when I’m having one of those booty kickin’ days with my kid, I lay down my aggravations and we bake bread.
On Tuesday of this week, the schools were closed. By 10am booty kickin’ was well underway, so I suggested we make bread.
I know it sounds crazy that one would open up a canister of flour around someone with under-developed judgment and impulse control and over-developed enthusiasm. And sometimes Sean is a problem too. (Stop it. I can hear you rolling your eyes.) But in keeping with the many mysteries of the universe, it works. Somehow. There is just something therapeutic about baking together and working the dough.
(Disclaimer: I have one child.)
I have discovered that there are a number of life lessons to be found in the ancient art of baking bread, aside from the obvious lessons of fractions, science and farm-to-market commerce and they are as follows:
All things work together for good in the proper measure. Too much flour and not enough water and you end up not with delicious bread, but a stone. Too much water and not enough flour and you end up with a very large crusty dumpling. Life and bread making are both all about balancing the various elements in an effort to create something good and worthwhile.
Baking bread is a process. As in life, an orderly process yields good results.
Know when to work and know when to rest. The bread maker knows when to work the dough and when to rest and let the yeast work. The same is true in life, sometimes we just need to give it a rest, quit managing.
Life and bread making bread are messy. It just is. Expect it.
Making bread is work. It’s good for the human spirit to work to eat.
Life and bread making both improve with experience and failure.
Homemade bread doesn’t last more than a day or two. Live in the present and take joy in your daily bread.
And I’m sure there are many more.
Does Sean get these things about making bread? Probably not just yet. But I’m not just baking bread, I’m planting seeds.
Here is my easy recipe for Focaccia Bread that you can make with your kiddos.
2 to 2.5 cups of bread flour
1 package of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup hot water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Mix 1 cup of the flour with the yeast and salt in a large bowl.
Into a 2/3 cup of hot water (120 degrees) add the olive oil and then pour into the dry mixture. Stir in as much of the remaining flour it takes to make a soft dough. Knead on a flour dusted surface for about 10 minutes.
Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for about 10 minutes. (If you have a granite or stone countertop, put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Granite tends to stay cold and the dough will do better if it’s warm.)
Punch down the dough and divide the dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a ball and then press flat into a pizza shape into a well oiled 10-inch round cake pan (or you can put both on a well oiled cookie sheet if you don’t have round pans.)
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Using your finger tips or the handle of a wooden spoon, make little indentations into the dough. Brush liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt. Just before baking you can add just about anything else you want — rosemary, cilantro, garlic, Parmesan, goat cheese, grilled onions and peppers, sun dried tomatoes.
Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. It’s great dipped in flavored olive oil.