I learned how to make bread in a valley nestled between the Red Cloud and Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Two summers spent as an assistant cook at a youth wilderness camp provided ample opportunity to practice combining water, yeast, flour, oil, honey, molasses and a bit of salt. I learned to knead the dough smooth. I learned to form the dough into uniform loaves and how to tell when to take them out of the ovens. For good measure, I learned how to carry 50 pound sacks of whole wheat flour down a narrow staircase and how to keep mice from getting into the storage room. We used a bread recipe that made seven loaves at a time, and I eventually became pretty capable of turning out something edible for the camp guests. There’s not much better than homemade bread to come home to after spending all day on a mountain trail. I remember thinking that the bread we made gave everyone just that much more energy and provided just that much more comfort than something commercial would have been able to. And the kitchen staff had really strong forearms from all that kneading.
After those summers of baking bread everyday for three months straight, you’d think I would have continued the practice. But I didn’t. Instead I went back to college after each summer and baking fell promptly off the radar in the wake of studying, the local pubs and life in a dorm room. Continue reading “Bread”