2014 I began baking bread as a New Year’s Resolution. Little did I realize at the time it was actually going to take me roughly 2 years to make it through 95 different bread recipes from around the world. Why was I doing this? Because chefs have control over their kitchen’s and frankly baking is a wild variable of a culinary art. I was convinced I’d learn through trial and error, the secrets bakers and pastry chefs had come to know over the centuries that create consistent baked goods.
When I reached the half way mark I wrote about the lessons bread had taught me up until that point. “One Loaf at a Time” chronicled some baking and life realizations. The lesson of patience, to never bake angry, to always give your bread away, some things need a second rise, and lastly if you want to do something well do it all the time. So what have I concluded another 45 loaves later?
Lesson #6: Leave It Alone: Is cooking an art or is cooking a science? My opinion it’s an art form to learn how to make the science work for you. Translation—to bake beautiful bread trust that the natural chemical process is going to work. Walk away, go do something else and have faith that what you have assembled is going to work. The best breads came when I’d mix and knead the dough together, would go off to run errands, hang with friends, all the while it was rising. Come home smash it back down, take a nap, and the second rising was complete. Pop it in the oven, go work out, and trust that when the timer goes off you have some fine bread. The more you fuss, the more you tweak, the more you check, it’s never as good because you haven’t let it become its natural self.
Needless to say this baking lesson can easily be translated into to daily life. It always saddens me a little, whether its business or pleasure, to just see people TRYING TO HARD, at life. I catch myself saying “it just needs to be organic” as my sing song advice now.
Lesson #7: Bread is Life: I know it sounds super cheesy. But honestly after when I baked that last bread and thought about all the things I had learned over the 2 and a half years….the conclusion was to just keep it simple. Two basic ingredients, flour and water, can make a thousand combinations. Bread is Life. To make a great life, keep it simple. If you never bake a loaf of bread in your life by learning the 7 bread lessons you’ll be in a real good place.
Lesson #1: Be patient
Lesson#2: Don’t do things in anger.
Lesson #3: Never do something for personal gain, only for the enjoyment.
Lesson #4: Give second chances.
Lesson #5: Do what you love and do it all the time.
Lesson #6: Let life takes its course.
Lesson #7: Keep life simple.
Ha I don’t know too many bakers but after this I view them in the same category of Buddhist Monks…..zen like beings that just get it. And isn’t that what we are all looking for? I’m still baking bread, not every week but here and there. Occasionally after a long day I come home and find that sifting my fingers through some flour, using the balls of my hands to knead, and smelling that sweet delicious smell of warm yeast just helps to keep things a bit on track.