Archive for home baking

Knead to Know

Posted in Food, Glorious Food with tags , , , on February 13, 2014 by davegerry


I really am turning into my father. This is fine with me as he was a rather extraordinary fellow in so many ways. I learned to cook from my dad. He was a great experimenter with ingredients as well as a notable forager of wild food.

He did not bake a lot…although, on the rare occasion he would make a loaf of bread, he would often knead it in the clothes dryer. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. I would wake up in the morning and think, ‘What the hell is he doing?’. I thought this was so strange at the time but now that I think about it, this actually made some sense. Nestling bread dough inside a clean, tied towel and letting it get nudged around in a barely warm environment probably led to better loaf.

My wife is not about to let me bring flour and cornmeal and yeast anywhere near her beloved Maytag. That’s okay. I have found a very good recipe for bread recently and have taken to baking up loaves as hostess gifts (instead of bringing wine) when we are invited over for dinner. I think people appreciate the effort. This recipe has to be started about 15 hours before you bake, but it is dead easy and the results, I humbly submit, look and taste as good as any artisan product. I am still alarmed at what people will pay for a loaf of boutiqued bread.

I remember interviewing a woman in the tiny Newfoundland town of Brigus. She was the ultimate matriarch of the community having borne more than 20 children. I sat in her cosy kitchen and listened as she described a lifestyle that , for many years, did not include such luxuries as indoor plumbing and a washing machine. She used a scrub board over a tub.She also home-baked all the bread for this massive brood. I can’t imagine how many loaves. That oven must have been going 24 hours a day! She baked as a matter of necessity and economy. That’s a lot different than knocking off a loaf because you just happen to be in the mood.

Still, regardless of motivation or methodology, few things that come out of a modern kitchen carry the cachet of fresh-baked bread.