My grandfather Arthur took up the hobby of baking bread in his later years (and, as we found after he died, stockpiling rolls of toilet paper in the back room cupboard but that’s another blog entirely).
His bread was good. So good that, as uni students, my cousin and I would convince him to make us a loaf each when we’d go back to uni from holidays. It made the best toast ever as it was slightly more dense than normal bread and had the distinct flavour of sourdough from the starter he used. We lamented the loss not only of Pa but his bread when he died and it was something so distinctive about him, my Uncle Terry found the lovely quote (and title for this blog) from a hymn and we put it on his gravestone.
My dad Peter also took up the art of baking bread in his later years and he too had a sourdough starter that worked really well. He gave me one of my own which I used to his recipe with no problem until I went back to full time work and became time poor. Starters need love and I just didn’t have enough to go around.
Ever since dad died five years ago tomorrow, I’ve been a little obsessed with getting back into baking bread and reflecting on past history, I wonder if it’s a genetic thing.
Baking bread takes time, patience and skill. The biggest issue I have is patience. I’ve never been a particularly patient person. If I wanted something, I went out and got it. And if I couldn’t get it? I lost interest or declared it wasn’t for me and moved on to something else.
You could say I was a bit of a quitter. I quit Girl Guides because I couldn’t go to the muster. I quit gymnastics because I had to get up early to go to classes (and the teacher was mean, slapping hands, legs or any other part that wasn’t doing what it should. I was 10 and didn’t have a strong desire to be a gymnast. Or to be slapped.).
I quit tennis. Playing the flute. Tae Kwon Do. University. Anything that got too hard, I found an excuse to walk away from.
I seriously panicked at about 5 months pregnant with my first child when it dawned on me that labor was something that was going to be difficult, painful, messy and out of my control.
And … I couldn’t just quit and walk away.
Long story short – I survived. She was gorgeous. And after her arrival, I started seeing projects through to their finish.
Getting back to my Year of Baking Bread … so far, it’s going pretty average.
I’ve made three loaves to date and each one has definitely resembled a doorstop. The upside is that the loaf lasts a loonnngg time, even with young adult males in the house. One slice is enough to keep them happy for a while.
The downside is that it’s not doing what it should, goddammit, and I am not sure why and my patience is wearing thin.