Baking Bread

Dearest ______,

I wish I could transport the heavenly smell wafting through my kitchen to you right now: kneaded dough slowly baking in olive oil and rosemary. It’s making me feel warm and fuzzy inside that if there ever was a competition on being the Best Hugger, the focaccia bread inside my oven would be winning at this very moment.

I’ve been actively adding recipes into my novice baking and cooking portfolio these past few years. Not for anything in particular but the bliss- pure bliss– I’ve come to discover in using my faculties to make something that ultimately fills me, feeds people. It’s kind of basic, really, feeding yourself. And yet I love how intrinsically essential it is to learn how to do it; make food.

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Although I also understand that the importance of food-preparation may vary for different people around the world: some people might be groomed to do other equally important things day-to-day, for example. On the extreme end of that spectrum, I grew up not having the inclination for baking nor cooking, myself. If you’d met the arrogant, pseudo-Feminist college student that I was, you would’ve caught me foolishly discussing gender roles in domesticity this way:

“I don’t really care if I can’t make a full meal for myself. I’ll be successful enough to hire people to do that for me, anyway.” Oh, what a stupid kid I was. Because as I’ve come to realise through the years: the ultimate proof of (gender) independence, silly girl, is survival. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ring a bell?

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I just finished baking my first batch of bread today. And it was glorious.

Now I’m starting to believe that everybody should try baking at least once in their life. I know this might be saying too much, but as experienced today, baking bread might be the best domestic practice of both scientific method and human emotion:

  • There are specific measures in quantity, force, time, etc in baking. And kitchen experimentations are more likely to succeed when you follow a basic set of baking principles.
  • Digging hands into dough, perception and instinct dictate the right amount of flour needed to get the desired consistency. And in these moments of judgment in baking, you have to be both patient and present, at all times. 

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Faithfully following a simple Focaccia recipe online,  I first sensed a whiff of the ingredients mingling with each other in the air, then, the sight of scorched dough corners slowly creeping into its shiny center. Before I knew it, the sudden bing of the oven. Et voila! Real, actual bread, made with my own hands. Which I will be eating later; feeding the husband with.

It’s almost like a tiny miracle, isn’t it– putting together the most modest things like flour, eggs, yeast, salt, etc– to make something like this:

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Love,

Karlita

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