Baking and Making Bread

I’ve never been a baker.  It has never spoken to me like other cooking has – don’t get me wrong, I love bread, but I think at the tender age of five I decided the ‘in-between’ stage of bread – when its not dough, and not a runny mixture, was gross and messy and that was that.

Although I have worked in an industrial bakery – it was much easier than baking at home.  There was a giant mixer with a bread hook, and everything was easy after that.  I did love our fermenting sourdoughs, rosemary and sundried tomato foccacia and baking big sheets of cookies.  But at home, I never was a baker.

So when I was at friend L’s summer house in Copenhagen celebrating his 30th birthday, we were told we would bake bread for 100 – amongst all the other preparations for the party.  Gulp!  That never happened, but we did bake 4 loaves of bread, simply following the recipe on the back of the flour packet, and adding fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

My friend T handled the icky part of mixing the dough, but I formed the loaves.  I remember instantly that summer of weighing chunks of dough, kneading them on the wood, curling them in on each other until they were a lovely round ball and then spinning them within my hands to tighten the outer shell.

As always, it was meditative, rhythmic and there was something deeply instinctual about it.  As a genetically European woman, there is something deep inside of you that remembers making bread before you learnt.  My female ancestors probably made bread by hand for hundres of years, even my mother baked all our bread until I was 10 – and I am the first who doesn’t.

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