In the beginning, it’s just a few ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast. These are simple things. They aren’t expensive. They’re generally easy to find. And there’s only four of them. But once they’re mixed, they become something else. Something almost magical.
When making bread, the baker starts out being in control. You decide what and when and how the bread will be made – but that’s where it ends. After that, after those ingredients are mixed, you have to give up control. Because the bread takes the lead, and if you want to participate in this process, you need to do what it tells you. Not in a bossy kind of way. Bread doesn’t boss. It… calls. And you can’t help but be drawn in.
Making bread is an early morning endeavour. It takes a while. And if you want to eat toast with your eggs, or have sandwiches for lunch, you’re going to be getting up before the sun. Which is another thing: bread shows you a different world. A quieter world, where the pace is slower (at first). A world where the sun gently creeps up on you, and where a minute ago the world was blue-black, now it’s this lovely shade of pink. You can’t help but marvel at this – not for long, though. Because the bread is rising.
When you’re alone with the dough, mixing or kneading, cutting or shaping, there’s something meditative about it. It’s just the two of you and the breaking dawn. As you work, there’s room to think and ponder. To put things in perspective.
By now, the room is warm, and your cheeks are rosy, and the bread is ready to go into the ovens. Through the oven window you watch as these little orbs of dough are transformed, and you can’t help but ask yourself: Is there any mystery greater than this? And when the time comes and you pull them all out, they’re beautiful and golden and bursting at their seams. You can’t help but stare down at them with awe and pride… and a little bit of hunger.
So you grab the butter and fetch a knife, and then you get to eating. As you eat, you find yourself grateful, not just for the final product, but for the whole journey.
Because bread is a gift that fills the belly - but also the soul.