|My standard loaf, sliced to accompany the brie cheese we consumed throughout French Polynesia
There is something about making bread, by hand, without a bread maker but using my own hands to work the dough – something that is satisfying and basic and wholesome. Sure it smells amazing while baking and tastes wonderful, but it is more the enjoyment of this age-old routine that is woven into my week. I like that my lifestyle values the time it takes to bake bread from mixing flour, yeast, salt and water. I love that my family encourages the routine by eating it so fast that I have to bake 2 loaves of bread 3 times a week. [That's 2 kilos of flour a week for those of you provisioning your galley].
Logically, I am always striving to make better bread, with more texture and better crust. But I was a bit chapped today when a huge improvement on the bread came from….from MIKE! This is the man who condensed our first 1.5 years sailing into a 286 page book and never once mentioned the smell of fresh bread or the pleasure of having fresh bread when there wasn't any other fresh thing in the galley aside from an onion and shriveled clove of garlic. On both passages across the Pacific, regardless of the weather or how I felt, I spent every other morning either baking fresh bread or hand washing cloth nappies. And I am not complaining about this, just stating that these are routines that I breathe everyday and they are so outside of Mike's awareness that he neglected to put them in the book. To be fair, I almost never think of the transmission fluid level or the water filters on the galley sink. But to continue my point, I was just a bit unnerved that someone so cavalier about the whole bread making process would deliver such a grand gesture of improvement.
This morning I took both boys ashore at 0830 with both bread loaves shaped and only one hour left for their second rising. I asked Mike to set his timer for an hour and then remove the towel that was resting over the dough and turn the oven on for 22-25 minutes, until the tops were just brown. Simple enough. But then Mike forgot about the bread – how do you forget about bread that is smelling up the galley with the delicious aroma that is singing for butter – and he baked it for 30 minutes. That five extra minutes was the trick! La de da…the bread was crisp and brown and inviting - such an improvement that I've quickly swallowed my pride – along with too many pieces of fresh bread. It was so good that we nearly ate both loaves today and tomorrow morning I will be again adding yeast to flour; and so long as Mike doesn't offer to show me how to turn on the galley oven, I think our marriage will continue its rise to splendor, just like a tasty loaf of bread.
|The much-improved bread. Oh, how good it tastes!