Sunday, February 7, 2010
The Joy of (Children's) Cooking
Whenever I bake bread, I am so astonished at how simple (and rewarding) it is, that I vow not to let so much time go by before baking another loaf. But then, months or sometimes years pass before I tear open another package of yeast.
Finally last weekend, I ended my hiatus by baking two loaves of white bread -- something I knew my daughter's boyfriend would enjoy at our family dinner that evening.
And to showcase the simplicity of bread baking, I used a recipe from the 1946 Cookbook For Girls and Boys by Irma S. Rombauer, the author of the Joy of Cooking.
Baking bread may take a lot of time -- but it doesn't take a lot of the cook's time. After mixing the dough and kneading it (very therapeutic!), just leave it alone. The dough is very forgiving: you can let it rise three or more times, or for twice as long as the recipe says and it comes out perfectly. And part of the appeal is that you can go about your day (I took a yoga class and met a friend during times when the dough was rising), knowing that the yeast is hard at work in your kitchen, even while you're not. (And there's nothing like aroma of baking bread -- the perfect kitchen perfume!)
Everyone (especially Josh) enjoyed the bread at dinner that night -- it was still warm and had a lovely texture and flavor. It brought me back to the magical moment when I first tasted home-baked bread. I was at the Rosen's, my next door neighbor's, when friends of theirs arrived, fresh loaf in hand. My entire bread experience to date had been informed by Wonder; as I took my first bite I couldn't believe something this delicious (and addicting -- I couldn't get enough of that bread) was in the same food group! Now, whenever I bake bread, I can return to that transformative childhood moment, thankful that all it takes is some yeast and a bit of time.