Making Bread

I like to make bread. There's something therapeutic in the rhythm of kneading the warm dough.

I remember the summer that I learned to bake bread. My mother had always made her own bread, and when I was little, I liked to have a little lump for my self to roll around and shape into little loaves. The summer I turned thirteen, my mother decided that I was old enough to make it myself.

There were cottages across the road, where people from NYC would stay every year. She thought I could earn money by selling homemade bread to them. It was a good idea. They bought it everyday, as fast as I could make it. There were days that I was tired of waiting for it to rise and bake. I wanted to go to the lake or on a bike or whatever kids do in the summertime, but I had to wait for the bread. (I'm sure I talked my mother into finishing the job some days.) I made enough money to go to camp.

When my children were growing up, especially when the boys reached the I'm-always-hungry stage, homemade bread filled their stomachs more than store bread. Instead of three sandwiches, it only took one or two with my bread.When one meal took a whole loaf, we had to make six or eight at a time. My girls learned to bake it too, and even got better at it than me.Sometimes we made just white bread, but I liked to add whole wheat and molasses for a darker, more wholesome bread.

One of my favorite things to do with bread is to take a loaf to church or school or wherever I was going the next day. I'd look for someone to give it to. Many, many times it was definitely of the Lord's leading. Sometimes, it was someone that was just wishing for some fresh bread. Sometimes it was a person that needed encouragement. I never planned ahead who I would give it to; I'd let the Lord do that.

Here's a basic bread recipe:

White Bread
6-8 cups of all purpose white flour
3 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. salt
2 Tbl. oil/shortning
2 pkg (4 Tbl) dry yeast
2 cups very warm water
(substitute molasses for sugar for dark bread)

Stir the dry ingredients into the warm water and oil. Add the flour a cup at a time, until it is able to be handled. Knead (folding and pressing with the heels of your hand) for 5-10 minutes, until it is firm and springy.
Place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and place in a warm spot. Let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size.
(This is the fun part!)
Punch the dough to release the air. Knead again, and shape into two loaves.
Place into greased loaf pans, cover, and let rise double again.
Bake in a preheated oven (350 deg.) for 40 min.
Turn out of pans immediately. Butter the tops and let cool before eating.
(We never could do that last part!)
Experiment with different flours and recipes.

The Bible has a lot to say about bread. The Jews did not use yeast for the Passover, for yeast is a symbol of sin. Yeast spreads quickly through bread, permeating every part. Spring Cleaning comes from their tradition of cleansing their houses of any leaven. We need to ask the Lord to show us any "leaven" in our hearts, so that we may be cleansed.

They didn't have dry yeast like we use today. They used a pot of "starter", a fermenting lump of flour. If this lump got too cold it would die and not work. They sometime took it to bed with them, to keep it close to their warm bodies. Do we cling to our "leaven" and not want it to die?

Jesus spoke of the church being one loaf. We are not separate bits of bread; we are one piece. If some leaven gets into one part, it is in all of us. Do you examine your heart before taking communion? Do you have something against your brother or sister in the "loaf"? Is there something that needs to be cleansed? Make it right with your brother or sister, and make it right with the Lord, so that the loaf will be pure.

Dear Lord, search our hearts. Show us things that are hidden. Teach us desire pure hearts. Amen.


Lydia said...

I'll bet your kitchen smells good today! :) Bread baking is such a welcoming smell! When I do bake (not very often these days) I try to time it so the bread is still in the oven when Don gets home from work. And sometimes, he returns the favor by putting chocolate chip cookies (store bought dough) in the oven when I call him to tell him I'm on my way home from work. Coming home to warm cookies is a very nice welcome!

cateday said...

Yvonne, when did you graduate from BHS? I think, based on your post about Madame Norton, that we went to school together.
Catherine H.


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