The words “art” and “artist” are generally thought of as painters or sculptors. There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking. Painters and sculptors do make art, but the word is not only for them. Art is something that results from people pouring their passion and imagination into a particular pursuit. One activity that some people have spent their lives perfecting and making into an “art” is making bread. The people who have truly mastered this only did so because they knew the step by step process to making bread—regular bread. The process of making bread is preparing the dough, baking it, and enjoying it.
When making bread, or making anything, there are ingredients and tools needed. If a shed is being made, wood, hammers, nails, and doors, etc. would be needed. The same goes for making bread. When getting ready to make the dough that will turn into bread, the ingredients are the fallowing: unbleached white flour, baking yeast, salt, water, a bowl for mixing, a knife, foil, and an ungreased baking sheet. The first step is to combine four cups of unbleached flour, one teaspoon of baking yeast, two teaspoons of salt, and one-and-a-half cups of water in a mixing bowl. Once these ingredients are in the bowl, the fun part begins. The ingredients must be mixed by hand. Hands are the best tools to make sure the ingredients become one big ball of mush and squishiness. After everything is properly mixed, the newly formed dough must be covered in foil and left to sit. This will allow some of the moisture to escape, and the dough will dry a little to maintain a ball shape.
Once this process has taken place, the dough should be formed into smaller balls. This will be done by covering hands with flour to ensure the best results. Place balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. The knife should be used to cut three small lines onto the top of the dough; not only does this make the bread look more appealing, it allows the steam to escape during baking. While this whole process is taking place, the oven should be preheating to a hellish temperature of four-hundred and fifty degrees. The dough will sit and bake in this ungodly temperature for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, the baker will have mercy and lower the temperature to three-hundred and fifty degrees and let the dough continue to bake for another thirty minutes. It is recommended to place a small dish of water alongside the cookie sheet in the oven during baking. This allows the outside of the bread to become a golden crust of deliciousness.
While the bread is baking, it is fun, though not necessary, to wield the knife like a sword and pretend to fight off invisible monsters that reside in the kitchen, or to write an obituary dedicated to the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Once the bread is done baking, it should be taken out and left to cool for a few minutes. It is not good to cut the bread before it is cool because the inside will still be so hot that it will be sticky. The bread is ready to eat when it sounds right – it should be tapped on the bottom and should sound hollow. Then, the feast of ages may take place as the bread is finally ready to be consumed with honey, jam, butter, or whatever tastes best.
This process may sound like a simple recipe to most, but it is more than that to others. Some people have made the baking of bread an art form. Some add new ingredients and make many different types of bread. M.F.K. Fischer wrote, “The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight” (Fischer). Whether they have a family recipe or personal style to making it, those people who spend their lives making bread and turning it into a family business or tradition are artists in their own way.