Sunday, September 30, 2012

A bread encounter


I find baking intimidating, mostly because I've never done much of it. (Baking makes a lot of dishes to wash, and in our old kitchen, with its cramped sink and no dishwasher, I gave up on it). I got so good at whipping out pizza dough this summer, though, that it seemed almost second nature. So I decided to try to get into the habit of baking bread on the weekends, in part to demystify it.

But when I started out this morning, I found I was low on both yeast and bread flour. I hopped on my bike and rode to the corner market. When I was checking out, the young girl at the cash register--she was maybe eighteen or nineteen--said to me, "What are you making?"

"Bread," I replied.

"Really?" she said. "I've never had homemade bread."

"Never?" I asked.

"Nope. I've never had it." She smiled and rang me up.


I find this astonishing--maybe even a little troubling. I'm going to have to think about it.


13 comments:

  1. Susan, Do you think she would like homemade bread or find it too dense as many people who have grown up on "Wonder Bread" have complained. I am a bit older than you and I can't recall having homemade bread until I went to college and took up the good hippie health food lifestyle. I did make bread~It was so good.

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  2. I had a similar experience as Gail did except that in high school my BF's mother made homemade fluffy white bread and rolls. Ah, I can still smell them!

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  3. Was it our mother's generation in which this started to die out? We had it when my grandmother came to visit, but I can't recall my mother baking bread very often.

    If you never have homemade bread, you'll never miss it. Will people lose the taste for it, and simply be satisfied with "artisan" bread you buy at the grocery store?

    Is it troubling that the homemade bread tradition is dying out?

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    1. It is troubling...Although, I do think there are some excellent artisan breads available these days.

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  4. I think it is your duty to give that young lady a taste of fresh homemade bread, just a thought.
    I have trouble with pie crusts, but keep plugging along, hoping one day to have perfected it enough that it doesn't fall apart on me as I roll out the dough.

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    1. Janet, the same thing occurred to me! I'll try to take her a loaf if I make some next week.

      I'm working on the pie crust, too. My best experiment so far has been chocolate scones, oh my goodness.

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  5. As our girls went off to college, sometimes in rather distant places, one request was a loaf of their dad's sourdough. Being raised on, mostly, home made breads they were "spoiled" for store bought.

    We still tend to send them home with bread when they come to visit.

    I am still in search of a bakery that can match what comes out of our oven, you know, for those times when the Baker is to busy to produce a loaf or two. So far, nothing compares, but a few come close.

    By all means, bring her a loaf - and the recipe.

    I learned to bake bread from Tassajara Bread Book and Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Mr Wildknits began in the same place but took off into sourdoughs and has perfected his technique over the years.

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    1. Those Messerer boys! I'll check out those books-- I'm always looking for good cookbooks.

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  6. I started baking bread, oh, about 35 years ago or so. And it only took me about 30 years to figure out how to do good natural (wild) yeast breads. And guess what, now I've adopted a very low grain diet and my poor starter languishes in the fridge most of the time. I keep refreshing it once in a while because when I do eat bread it must be the best bread. But crum(b), all those years of baking doorstops and I finally figure it out just when I figure out that bread makes me fat. If you really get into the bread baking thing check out wildyeastblog (not mine), I learned a lot about baking bread there.

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    1. I'm not sure I'm going to venture all that far into bread baking. Most of the time, I can take or leave bread, but I do like a good homemade loaf once in awhile. I think this venture into bread baking is more about finding the elements of a good life and including them, if that makes any sense.

      As for my own wild yeast starter, I can barely keep houseplants alive, so I'm not sure I'm ready for the responsibility of my own starter! ;-)

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  7. Maybe it's bothersome because bread, in some form, is a BASIC staple of diet all over the world. Give us our daily bread and all that.... and so it's a bit disconcerting that many people have only had the highly processed kind that comes in a plastic bag with a twist tie. They've never had the pleasure you had growing up, of (at least occasionally) watching it rise and waiting for the reward of a hot slice, fresh out of the oven, to be generously buttered and enjoyed :) Maybe it's a problem that even when it comes to something as basic as bread, we don't see the value in putting in a little extra effort if it means we have to wait, even if we know the end result is a superior one. Or that now, it's gotten to the point that people don't know the end result is better, and so it's never occurred to them why anyone would bother to do such a thing. Such a thing as basic as making bread.

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    1. I think the latter--"it's gotten to the point that people don't even know the end result is better" --is the thing that is bothering me. If you've never had it, how will you know what you are missing?

      I made scones last week, too, and they were even better than the loaves of bread, but as you say, bread is so _basic_, and as such, there is so much more wrapped up in homemade bread than the bread itself.

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