I don’t know what came over me exactly. I just know that, somewhere in the nostalgic depths of my mind, there is an image of an aproned mother in pearls and lipstick pulling a loaf of homemade, freshly-risen, flour-dusted bread straight out of the kitchen oven.
My mother didn’t bake bread.
I don’t even think her mother baked bread.
Still, last week, I found myself in the grocery aisle with a package of all-purpose flour, instant yeast and a rolling pin. (Turns out, you don’t need a rolling pin for bread, which tells you precisely everything you need to know about my particular brand of kitchen history.)
But it’s November, and we’ve got Bing Crosby on already, and I don’t know, it felt right.
Bee and I used this recipe, which really and truly is as simple as it sounds. Yeast and lukewarm water in bowl, add flour and salt, mix the whole lot of it with a spoon or your hands and let the little ones make their own tiny loaves with the leftover dough. There’s a fair amount of time investment between the rising and resting, so allow for an afternoon at home. (Introvert Alert: Congrats! You’ve found a new excuse to stay in for the day!)
You’ll shape the dough with your hands into an imperfect circle just as your husband passes through the kitchen. “You know I have a bread machine in the corner cupboard?” he’ll say, and you won’t have known that, nor will you have cared. It’s nostalgia you’re after; no machines allowed.
You will set the timer, light a few candles. You will pour a glass of merlot. You will read stone age history aloud to a reluctant, wiggly kid while she checks the oven window for progress. Your toddler will miraculously nap, rising just before the bread to a home that smells warm, bright, beloved.
You will wait ever-impatiently as it cools on the countertop, and ten minutes later, you’ll tear off the first crusty end. You’ll knife salted butter atop, marveling at the crisp of the outer layer, the melt of the inside.
Next time, you’ll add rosemary and a bit of olive oil. Deliver a loaf or two to a neighbor, keep one for yourself. Realize the aproned mother from the depths of your mind is you: sans apron, sans pearls, sans lipstick, every bit as lovely in her flour-dusted yoga pants.
p.s. For a quicker baking adventure, might I suggest these 15 minute blender muffins?