I had an urge to bake this morning. Bread, specifically. I enjoy the way the yeast and water react, froth, the way the dough texture changes after kneading, or when it rises, and the smell of the bread as it is cooking. The kneading is not my main pleasure. Instead, I am fascinated by the different textures of the bread-making process. I think all baking is like that - from the creamed butter and sugar, changing when you add eggs, changing again with flour, and then heat. I remember one of the first things I learned to make at home with my mother. Hokey pokey, the kiwi word for honeycomb toffee. It was so exciting adding the baking soda to the sugar/golden syrup, and seeing the ingredients explode into a magical frothy mixture. It was the chemical reaction I found fascinating, as much as the taste of the end result. I feel the same way about bread.
I could get all philosophical and say that life is like that too. Put different ingredients together, or leave one out, and see what you get. But that isn't the point of this post. Today, I just want some room to complain a little. I wanted to bake bread. But I still had some of my favourite bread (Vogel's spelt and flaxseed) left, and don't like throwing it away. DH was out playing golf, so wouldn't be home for lunch. And there was no-one else to help me eat whatever I was going to make. So it would be a case of making something simply for fun. Which maybe
would have been fine, though I was taught not to waste food (even though
these days I do my fair share). I have the same quandary when I bake anything, but with the added issue of how unhealthy will it be. Maybe that's another reason I like baking bread!
That's the thing, isn't it? Even decisions over which bread am I going to make are influenced by the fact that I don't have children. Okay, I know realistically any kids I might have had might not be living at home any longer. But I could have had years of baking bread for them or with them before they set off for university or careers or travel or love. It makes me feel a little sad.
And right now, I'm allowing myself to feel that regret. But what I won't do is allow myself to stay sitting in it. So this afternoon or tonight, I'm going to prepare the no-knead bread that needs to sit for at least 12 hours overnight, and will bake it tomorrow for lunch. I've only made it once, so I want to try it again. It will be nice in a sandwich with tomato and salad and cheese, or maybe some ham, or perhaps with some soup. I'm sure my husband will want to toast it. And over a few days, I'm pretty sure we will be able to devour the loaf. If it comes out okay, that is. Of course, there's no reason to assume that it won't. And there you have it - maybe bread-baking is a metaphor for life after all.