The best bread is the one made by hand, kneaded until wrists feel as though they might snap, sweated over and folded together with careful respect.
Whether it’s topped with herb spreads or toasted and slathered with sweet, fresh jams, or simply drowned in butter and devoured while the steam is still masking the air around it… bread is the perfect cure for weekday stress, Sunday night blues, or pure boredom days with plenty of hours to spare for a yeasty creation.
I find that I often forget to rest, and I rush around all day long, all week long, always teetering on the brink of crazy, constantly feeling like something (really, anything) might suddenly slip through the cracks and everything around me would domino-effect into a giant mountain of crumbled disaster. At the end of the day, I collapse into bed with barely an ounce of energy left to set my alarm for the next day because…
I am haunted by the idea of failure. It controls me, rules me. It demands me to go, go, go. It laughs at exhaustion and mocks rest.
But we weren’t designed to be exhausted.
And that’s a truth I have been grasping at all year long–exhaustion is NOT a sign of success. And… Failure IS okay. In fact, I’m learning that it’s even necessary in order to discover deeper passions, bigger successes, different paths.
But oh, I lie to myself. I feel guilty if I sit still for a second. I watch the people around me and I compare myself and my life to them and their lives. Suddenly, my good is no longer good enough.
The process of de-stressing my life over the past six months hasn’t been easy; it’s one baby step after another. Diving further into cooking and baking is just one of those small steps to slowing down and smelling the
I think I love bread so much because of the time and attention it demands. It reminds me to stop, to slow down, to listen… To watch as the yeast settles into the water and bubbles slowly, dissolving in slow motion… To settle into the rhythm of knead, roll, punch, pull, knead, roll, punch, pull knead.
Friends, it’s free therapy.
Making bread might sound too difficult or like something you would never do, but the next time you’re feeling the pressure of heavy stress, grab your cooking apron and whip up some fresh loaves. If the baking experience doesn’t calm you down, diving into the hot, buttery goodness afterward just might do the trick.
Take care of yourself. Rest and eat bread.
Recipe: Yeasty Bread Round
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups flour
Whisk water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved completely. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for several minutes until yeast begins dissolving and getting foamy. Whisk together well.
Next add oil and salt–incorporate. Add flour, one cup at a time. When all the flour is added, knead bread on clean surface until smooth. Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour.
Punch down dough and gather into a round ball on a well-oiled, flat cooking sheet. Cover and let rise for at least 30 minutes–until double in size. While the dough is rising one last time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool (or don’t) before diving in and enjoying!
Note: You can also bake this dough in a bread pan. I love the rustic nature of round loaves so I instead choose to let it bake free. For loaf pan bread, follow instructions above, but rather than setting dough to rise one last time on an oiled, cooking sheet, place in bread pan and let rise until loaf has extended about an inch above the pan.