Earlier this week I ran out of bread. It was too cold to go outside, and I knew if I went to the store for just bread I would spend money on odds and ends I didn’t need. So I played a few computer games and thought about bread alternatives. Very unsatisfactory!
Then I remembered the box of bread mix in the pantry, waiting to be baked. I cranked up the heat in my apartment (bread dough rises way too slowly in a cool room), got out my ingredients, and began to work.
There is magic in yeast when it meets warm water and begins to “proof” or bubble and breathe. Adding flour and stirring makes a gooey, moist mess…until the kneading begins. Remember how good making mud pies felt as a girl? Kneading bread feels SO much better. Sprinkling flour on the counter and rubbing it on my hands, I lift the dough and slap it back down, feeling the texture lighten and change. I can smell the musky yeasty beasties as they multiply in the dough. The bread comes alive beneath my hands, and the world outside my kitchen is far away.
On a whim, I add a good handful of raisins — nothing else — and watch them dimple the surface. More kneading incorporates them throughout, and my dough is ready to rest and rise.
An hour or so later the now plump dough goes into the pan, ready to rise again. This is not a process for rushing, but for contemplating. And at last, into the oven it goes.
The delicious smell sneaks up on me as I read and play more games, filling the air until it is impossible to ignore. The timer rings, the bread is baked, and my waiting is nearly over.
As soon as the loaf is cool enough to handle, I cut three lovely thick slices and slather them with butter. Thanks to the raisins, it is just sweet enough — no jam needed! A fresh cup of tea, my latest magazine, and warm, rich bread. Could Heaven be any better than this?