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making bread - an every day prayer

I bumped into a person I had been introduced to in the elevator at work yesterday.  Mr J asked if I could bring him some sourdough starter.  So I did.  

I do not mind sharing because making bread can be a meditation.  A prayer for everday.

I have noticed that sourdough seems to be the thing this autumn and winter.  The interest in it is very cyclic.  The funny thing is that I have been making sourdough for years.  The first time was when I was seventeen.  It was hard to keep that going during college but I started it up again about five years ago. Sometimes it feels like there is magic about making bread, but there really is not.  Flour, salt, water, and something that is yeast.  In my case that is flour and water that has been set out for a week to catch the wild yeastie beasties.  I change up the bread recipes depending on what I am craving but the simple works.  Making bread is always a prayer.  

Neither bread or sourdough is diffcult.  Neither is intimidating.  I actually kneaded bread before work today while I was talking to my Beloved.

The night before you wish bread, mix your starter with one cup of flour and about three quarter cup water in a large bowl.  Let that sit in a warm spot for about eight hours or until bubbly.  Smell how the yeastie beasties make the house smell.  Big deep breath.

Take a couple tablespoons of the starter and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for next time.  Your bread is making your bread for next time.  Part of the everlasting meal.

To what is left in add a couple cups of water, four teaspoons salt, and enough flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead for ten minutes.  Let  your mind wander and your body relax as you knead.  It is a time for meditation and smiles.  The bread dough will smooth and there will be some give to it.

Let rise until double.

Shape into a round and let rise for a couple more hours (or hour if the house is really warm).

While the bread is rising, heat a cast iron dutch oven with its cover in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for at least 15 minutes.

Turn the dough in to the pot.  Slash the top.  Cover.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Or just bake in any form you wish for one hour at 350 degrees.  I do this when I wish to have a softer crust and bread in a loaf pan.

My family then cuts into the bread.

They say I need to make more already.

You will notice there is no magic.  There is barely any measuring.  There is a lot of waiting.  But the simplest of ingredients with a little time and care can make the most wonderful food.  And start getting ready for the next batch.

This is where you start.  All bread is just this with different additions.  If I add things, I change the baking time to 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheti.  Nothing fancy.  No kool-aid to drink.  No propaganda to read.  Just an everyday prayer for an everlasting meal.

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