A yeasty new year

We started off 2009 with fresh bread. I should say my husband did all the work and I merely reaped the fragrant rewards. He doesn’t make bread often, but when he does, he wants to be traditional – with all the kneading, flouring and time that approach requires. He likes to feel the life in the dough; to do something far from the techy computers he works with all day.

The recipe he uses, from “Bread Alone” by Daniel Leader, takes most of a day, sometimes starting the night before. The bread, containing a combination of white and wheat flours, requires 20 minutes of vigorous kneading after the initial rising. My husband has never even considered the dough hook on the mixer. The end result of those minutes of rhythmic thunk, flap, thunk; thunk, flap, thunk is a dough as smooth as glass. A dough that creates a fine-textured, dense bread with just a hint of sourdough flavor (not too much; I don’t like to go overboard on the sourdough taste).

As the dough rose and, later, baked, I realized I’d forgotten the enchantment that the aroma of bread brings to the house. Like a roaring fire on a dreary day, the scent warms and comforts, and boosts the spirit. It eased that little down feeling I get when removing the holiday decorations for another year. And you get something great to eat, too. Makes me think, maybe, 2009 won’t be so bad.

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