Ah, fresh bread. What an experience! The powdery feel of flour, the faint taste of yeast, the heavenly smell of baked crust filling up your kitchen. Bread was one of the first foods that took notable skill to produce. Materials had to be mixed, kneaded, left to sit, and cooked properly to get a rise and taste. Even today, people chase the elusive “best recipe” and create all sorts of new concoctions to be eaten by people at Le Bernardin and Olive Garden alike. Bread holds all sorts of deep meaning- It’s found in great religious texts such as the NYT Cookbook and The Bible, ancient art pieces, and memes . Almost every culture has some form of bread.
So let’s make some bread! Why not? What other deeply meaningful and historically eminent things do you have to look forward to today?
First, you must decide- what kind of bread do you want to make, exactly? Sandwich bread? An artisanal loaf? Some pizza crust? Maybe even something like flatbread?
Then, you must look at your ingredients. Do you have yeast? If not, no worry. There are plenty of yeast-free recipes, although these require much less kneading. You can also make a sourdough starter, which cultivates your very own yeast! If you don’t have yeast on hand to jumpstart the process, it might take a week or two, but it can last for generations once produced.
Do you have flour? This one, I’m afraid, is a limiting factor. Flour is essential for bread. Fear not gluten-free peeps, gluten-free flour is a thing, though I don’t recommend going to the grocery store at this moment.
Also, you may stumble upon a recipe that calls for a “bread mixer” or something of the sort. Psh! People have been making bread by hand for thousands of years, and you can too, if you don’t mind your hands getting a little dirty. If you elect to make something like tortillas, you might find that the creator of the recipe insists on using a tortilla press. I’m going to let you in on a secret- you can just use a rolling pin and roll them reeeeally flat. It’s ok in a pandemic!
Bread recipes are generally quite forgiving in terms of quantity. They can be halved and doubled and quadrupled with ease! But make sure you try and stick to the actual ingredients. Since bread has so little, substitutions can be hard. Make sure you keep the ratio of flour and water to the same, and make sure you let it rise for the minimum amount of time. Not an hour less. Better for an hour more! Fun fact- the longer you let it rise, the more distinct its flavor will be. Some people like to make a big batch of dough and leave it in the fridge so they can rip off a chunk and make fresh bread each morning.
So now you have it. The sign you’re looking for. Go make some bread! Go crazy! Not too crazy. Only make as much as you and your family can eat. It’s just a waste, otherwise. But go crazy enough to have fun. Also, make sure you clean up after yourself! Get that bread! I’ll leave you with this- you might be quarantined, but at yeast you’ll have bread.