Monday, February 07, 2011

Daily Bread

Lately, I’ve been cultivating a Sunday morning ritual. Wake up, only slightly later than on a weekday. Make coffee. Sit by fireplace and watch pinkish clouds on the horizon. Turn on an hour of choral music on WQXR radio. Listen to heavenly music. Bake bread.

There’s something right about a Sunday morning bread baking discipline. There are so many aspects of bread that are consistent with the Sabbath.

The fundamental ingredients of bread are austere – flour, yeast, salt and water. This particular morning, I’ve chosen a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread. It’s not exactly Spartan fare, but the Lenten season is still weeks away.

Baking bread is tactile. I’ve eschewed the electric mixer and only knead by hand. The work is rhythmic and relaxing. If you labor in an office and often fail to see the immediate impact of your work, kneading bread is a tonic. Within minutes, the shaggy dough becomes smooth, glossy and elastic. You can feel the transformation.
Baking bread is miraculous. That first peek at the risen loaf is truly inspirational. How does this happen? How does this mass of dough expand and rise so gloriously?

Bread is sensual. The aroma of cinnamon, butter, raisins and yeast baking fills the house and lifts the spirit.
Bread is satisfying and fulfilling. The warmth of the crisp, golden crust bolsters the soul.

Bread is forgiving. Even if the gap between the cinnamon swirls is uneven, the homemade taste transcends aesthetics.

Mostly, the gift of daily bread is a blessing of nourishment for the week ahead.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


lostpastremembered said...

My car music is QXR, it calms and elevates and boy do you need it driving around NYC! Sunday morning's pleasure is CBS morning show... calm amid all the tv din with interesting stories that you don't get anywhere else. Making bread is a very giving thing, isn't it?? You get soooo much more out of it than you put into it. You got an absolutely perfect loaf of bread... gorgeous!

Jane said...

I agree in every single respect with your perspective on making bread. I think it's a soul-restoring experience in an over wrought world (if that's not too over-the-top corny). Last March, I also did a blog post on cinnamon raisin bread in which I waxed poetic in just the same way. Maybe there's something about that particular kind of loaf--sweeter and not totally utilitarian--that elicits such a response? I don't know, but I do believe that making any kind of bread primarily by hand is, in general, a meditative and very elemental experience. Everyone should try it. Beautiful blog you have here. I'm so glad to have found it.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Cinnamon bread was one of the first loaf breads I learned to bake. I think I was following recipes in James Beard's Beard on Bread, starting with white bread, then wheat and rye. I wish I had the discipline to keep baking, but we're eating less and less bread these days. (Love the new color palette of the blog, by the way. Very fresh and bright.)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely way to spend Sunday mornings. Bread makes your house smell heavenly. My mother baked bread every day. I grew up thinking everyone's mother made bread and was shocked to learn you could buy it.

Your loaf looks fabulous T.W. Kneading bread is so relaxing.

Barbara said...

I always used to love baking bread. But with the kids gone, I don't do it much anymore. I did make some this week, though, oddly enough. Wanted to try a new recipe.
Cinnamon bread is always a favorite. Yours is gorgeous! What could be better hot with butter slathered all over it??

Julia said...

"nourishment for the week ahead"
If I had a beauty like that in my kitchen, it would be lucky to last 3 hours!

Sounds like a wonderful weekend ritual!

~~louise~~ said...

Well, well, well, look whose sporting a new spiffy blog! It looks GREAT T.W.

I've made a vow to bake bread before this winter is over. I know, I better get a move on...My choice of music will be good old fashioned Italian music. IMHO, nothing beats "O sole mio" playing while I'm kneading bread.

Thanks for sharing, T.W. your bread looks as heavenly as your Sunday morning sounds...

Mary said...

I share your love for bread baking. While I like many of the no-knead and machine-based breads, they bypass that one step that makes the experience truly worth while - that moment when dough becomes alive. I don't think much that comes from our kitchens can beat the fragrance of cinnamon bread as it bakes. Yours looks exceptionally delicious and the swirl is perfect by my standards. I hope you have a wonderful evening. Blessings...Mary

Nina said...

Wonderful post and a fantastic blog you have here. So happy to have found it. I have yet to make this is quite inspiring. Your loaf is simply gorgeous.

Stacey Snacks said...

TW...would you believe I still have not made bread? What am I afraid of?
I didn't know QXR was still on! We used to love the classical music, but I thought it changed over?
I like the new white backround on your blog, it is brighter and easier to read.

tasteofbeirut said...

I love it when you get so lyrical about bread! Now you are getting me all excited about making kaak, our special Lebanese bread that i used to crave all year. I love the idea of a ritual too, especially with music in the background

Susan from Food Blogga said...

When we lived in RI, we used to wake up to Robert J and his classical music on the Boston public radio station. I miss those mornings terribly. Now we usually do coffee and a hike. But after reading this beautiful post, I'm wondering if I shouldn't go back to classical. And, it goes without saying, that the bread is lovely.

Fresh Local and Best said...

I don't see any imperfections in your bread, it looks luxurious in a down to earth manner. I imagine that your kitchen must have smelled amazing with those sweet spices bubbling in the oven.

Lori Lynn said...

Hi T.W. - I feel warm, and calm, and happy just reading about your bread. Thanks for that. Bet it tasted great too.

Tera said...

TW, that sounds just lovely.