My hands are sticky with bread dough, one hand ineffectively scraping, sliding down the fingers of the other. Turning towards the sink, my eyes dart around the kitchen, taking in the detritus of flour on countertops, measuring spoon setting atop a puddle of honey, water soaked recipe handwritten on scratch paper. The pungent smell of yeast working it’s magic, eating up those little sugar molecules, sticks in my nose.
I’m not much of a bread maker. I find that it can be a little too specific for me, takes a little too much attention. Ingredients need to be measured precisely, temperatures need to be exact. I’ve never been one to adhere strictly, then add the Little Ones to the equation, and we need kitchen projects that are a bit more forgiving. There is one recipe that we return to over and over for just this reason.
Today though I was having problems. I’ve made this bread countless times, but today I couldn’t get my dough to rise. The dough sat on the counter, left under a blue and white striped dishtowel to grow, but when I uncovered it an hour later I found the same lump of dough, imprints of my fingers still discernible. After some tinkering, I finally got what I needed: after another hour the dough doubled in size, puffing itself out. Punch it down, dishtowel in place, watch the magic happen again. Soon I’ll pop the loaf into my 1950s avocado green oven, standing close to catch some residual warmth, breathing deeply its baked yeasty goodness. The kids will argue over who gets the first hot piece; we’ll sit in silence around the table, chewing quickly, asking for more.
With each bite, we swallow this metaphor made real: the secret happenings of yeast, the dough being kneaded, plying and stretching, the loaf being formed. In resting, it rises up only to be punched down. The pattern repeats, until it is baked up, hot oven solidifying the once-pliable mass. The warmth of a kitchen emanates, the heartbeat of our home. Even the end product: crusty, and golden, tender in the the most basic of our nourishment.
We break this bread, sharing our portion, ever thankful for the blessing.