Talking about baking bread, that is.
The first loaf of bread I ever baked (in our first year ofmarriage) was perfect. A perfect… brick. It smelled pretty good, butit was so dense and hard I was tempted to paint it, use as paperweightand give up the baking endeavor altogether. But my husband sweetlyencouraged me. He said that though the texture was a little tough (asin he might have chipped a tooth), the bread itself smelled and tasted pretty good and he asked me try it again.
I did, and that loaf was a little better. And the next was betterstill. Like everything else in life and in the kitchen, it just tookpractice. Homemade bread baking, in my opinion, is one of thoseculinary skills that many modern women are unnecessarily fearful of.The inexperienced tend to think it’s complicated magic that only otherwomen can accomplish.
But it really isn’t. It’s pretty simple. And it is not actuallytime consuming, either as the dough does most of the work (rising) onits own. Kneading the dough properly is the trickiest part (that wasthe problem with my paperweight loaf), but with practice you canquickly become an expert at recognizing “ready” dough. No big deal,really, and the results are well worth the effort.
I had forgotten how tricky the kneading part used to seem to meuntil recently. I was making a bread recipe with Kateri and Juliettewhen I tried to talk Kateri through the kneading, thinking she shouldlearn to do it all by herself. Her awkward hands poked at the gooeymass. It stuck to her fingers and and she added a mess of flour.
When I took the dough and demonstrated for her, my hands movedquickly, flipping the dough and kneading it thoroughly. Both girlsgasped. “Wow!” Juliette said. “Look what Mama can do!”
Look what Mama can do? I had never really appreciated havingmastered the art of kneading before. Through practice, it had justbecome second nature– something my hands had learned to do onauto-pilot. I was once an awkward brick baker, but today… Look whatMama can do. And you can too.