It’s a gloomy Saturday afternoon, and as I sit in front of the fireplace waiting for my dough to rise, I think about Paris: its sunny streets, peppered with cafes, patisseries, and bakeries, offering the most wonderful sweet delights. Folks leisurely walking from the market with fresh baguettes and seasonal produce. But I suppose today the streets are empty. Paris, the very symbol of pleasure and joy, is stunned and mourning. Life’s on hold.
Bread is the epitome of life: it’s about growing, maturing, and nurturing. When things get chaotic and uncertain and I feel there is not much to lean on, I always instinctively turn to bread. No yoga or meditation helps me to anchor my wonky emotions more than the simple act of bread making. It is almost as if by touching the living dough and smoothing it out under my fingers I am trying to smooth out the life bumps that trouble me. In such moments I put everything into that loaf: all my sadness and anger and all my doubts and hopes are in it kneaded together.
“Give us this day our daily bread…”
All we really have in this world is this present moment; yesterday’s gone and no matter how much we’d like to know, we have no idea what the future will bring. We make our bread for today, and only have the chance to grow today, nurture today, love today. And if we get to tomorrow, we’ll start from scratch again. Fresh loaf. New strength. Fresh love.
But as long as there is a fresh bread rising in the oven, we live. And if we have people to break it with, then life – with all its uncertainties, pain, rough trails, and knobby edges – is worth living ❤
Yeast Whey Pumpkin Bread
(adapted from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/23/pumpkin-whey-bread-recipe-dan-lepard; makes two 1 kg (2 lb) loaves
- 450 g (under 1 lb.) cooked pumpkin, drained
- 450 ml (15 oz.) whey (leftover liquid from making yogurt or cheese); milk, or combination of buttermilk and water
- pinch sugar
- 4 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 100 g (3.5 oz.) toasted pumpkin seeds
- 50 ml (scant ¼ cup) olive oil
- 1kg (2 lbs.) high-gluten bread flour
- 4–5 teaspoons salt
- oil, for kneading
- extra flour, for shaping
- Heat the whey (milk) until lukewarm. Add sugar and yeast, mix, and let stand for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
- Place flour, salt, and pumpkin seeds in a bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook.
- When the yeast is bubbly, add it together with mashed pumpkin and oil to the flour mixture. Knead on a low speed for about 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. (It should still be somewhat sticky, but if it seems too wet, add a little more flour, tablespoon at a time.)
- Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl, covered, for about 50 minutes, until doubled in size.
- Take the risen dough out of the bowl, punch it down, and divide it into two equal parts. Form each half into a nice round boule. Let the loaves rise again, covered, for about 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 425 °F ( 190 °C). Place the pot or the baking stone in the oven to preheat as well.
- Place the bread on the parchment paper on the baking stone or in the preheated pot. Bake for about 40 minutes until the bread is deep brown in color and sounds hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom.
- Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.