Friday, January 27, 2006
It would not be hard for anyone to assume I am a bit of a purist when it comes to most homemaking skills. After all I spin my own yarn, knit my own socks, make my own soap, sew my own clothes, wouldn't dream of having a sewing machine that embroidered for me and so on and so on. So, it should come as no surprise that I think bread machines are just tiny factories in your own home and you are not really baking bread at all, the machine is. Yes, you can control the ingredients, but you sure are not making your own bread. Its sort of like saying you bake your own cakes but use a mix.
There is no talent to adding a bunch of ingredients into a machine and letting it do all the work. Where is the exercise in that? It's true, making bread is exercise . Kneading bread dough works those arm muscles good. And feeling the dough to decide if you have enough flour or not, and checking the temperature of the milk or water you add the yeast to is talent. It takes time and experience to get the right feel.
Then, hearing that thump thump as you turn the dough over and over kneading it is soothing. It can be meditative.
Jewish women pray for their children when they knead Challah for Shabbat. Be kinda silly to do that while the bread machine was working. Just not the same thing. I like to think and pray while I make my bread too. Kneading bread takes time and that is time well spent if you can pray while you do it .
It used to be that a woman was known for the quality of her bread. For both its texture and taste . Who wants to be known for her bread machine results ? Its just not the same thing at all. Like buying frozen cookie dough and making cookies, then being well known for your cookies. You really didn't do the work, so what talent exactly are you known for ? Taking them from the box, or putting them in the oven ?
When my oldest daughter was about 10, there was a class in bread baking and I signed her right up. We went there and lined up on the counter was every kind of bread machine known to man. My jaw dropped ! Just didn't seem like learning to MAKE bread so we turned around and came home. I taught her how to really make her own bread the next day.
With a machine you miss experiencing the texture of kneading and checking the dough. I love the feel of the nice soft dough when you punch it down after the first rise. That moment can tell you a lot about your bread. You can pretty much tell then if its going to be a good loaf or not. You really can't take much credit for how the bread turns out if a machine really did the work. And besides, don't we have enough machines in the kitchen already. Not sure they save much time since everyone is constantly complaining they have no time.
I learned how to make bread when I was in the 7th grade. Learned for a great lady, my teacher. She had us girls baking bread every Friday and selling it to raise money for our class. We made a ton of money and the bread sold itself it was so good.
So, put that little old bread factory away and make some bread yourself. Its better than going to the gym and much more rewarding. I don't want people to miss out on the experience of doing it all from scratch. Its full of satisfaction and there is a connection to the past that goes along with baking bread for your family and that kind of thing ties us to all that was simple and uncomplicated.
It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...