Spirituality and Bread in Colorado
About three years ago, I was thinking about bread and how this has been the sustenance for people for thousands of years. In our analytic, fast food culture, I felt like I was missing something people used to know.... cut off from human history. So I set out to let my body, mind, and experience teach me... to learn answers to questions I couldn't articulate... by making bread.
I set out to make bread the way people have always made it. With no real measurement, no bread makers or mixers. The only real "machine" I still use is the oven. I wanted to "know" bread, not just make a loaf.
I started with a recipe using only salt, yeast, water, and flour. If I needed to measure, I poured the ingredients into my hands first so I would know what a tablespoon of yeast or a teaspoon of salt actually was. After about 20 loaves, I could create a pretty good loaf from just touch.
And then began the experimenting... and experience slowly worked its way into me. I found myself adjusting a bit on hotter days intuitively. I played with different flours, oil, eggs, milk, and seeds. I now maintain a starter. I even tried to put edible flours in loaves (but it didn't work well).
I learned about myself. I learned that bread isn't created like a machine is created. Bread has life in it and that life must be respected. I have to bend myself around the life of the yeast while gently guiding it... and that is good. I wonder how that lesson effected groups that lived with each other throughout history.
There is a lot more I have learned and am still learning both spiritually and practically with bread. Christ as the Bread of Life. The significance of the removal of yeast for the Jews during passover.... great stuff.
People ask me if making bread in Colorado at a high altitude (about 6500 ft) is hard. I tell them that it really isn't if you really know the bread. It is only tough if you are trying to make it follow exactly your recepe. I don't try to make bread do exactly what it did last time. I intuitively adjust as I go and it seems to work at whatever altitude I am in.