Friday Favorites: On Baking and Expectations


Cooking and baking are both physical and mental therapy.
-Mary Berry


I never thought I'd like baking, much less baking bread. I'm Italian to my core, and if you know Italian cooks you know that recipes, in the words of Jack Sparrow, are just guidelines. We don't use measurements, we use verbs like "pinch" and "pat." But baking is different, and I'm not talking about baking cupcakes or brownies out of a box. I'm talking about the kind of baking where yeast is used, rising takes hours, and hand kneading is a must. 

We live in a world of instants. We can microwave a meal in minutes, text a friend in seconds, and find out what's going on in people's lives just by checking our facebook feed. There is not much that takes effort or time in this world and I believe that's both good and bad, because it sets a precedent of expectations in other areas of life.

Growth, both spiritual and physical, still takes time, effort, and intention--as do relationships. And in a world of instants we are losing our ability to connect both with God and each other because we expect instant where they require time.

Too many people enter my office frustrated that they can't hear the Lord, or overcome this thing they are struggling with. Usually through a series of questions I find that they've tried once or twice, maybe even a handful of times, to connect with the Lord and given up. And often this is the same method they take with relationships. They are isolated and lonely, but at the root of much of it is this--they want change and relationship to happen instantly, and neither do. Relationships take showing up over and over again over time. Intimacy comes with consistency and pursuit. 

Baking challah takes time. It takes 15 minutes just for the yeast to bloom, 90 minutes to rise once and another 30 for a second rise before you even place it in the oven. Between those rises it's the hard work of kneading by hand. It's slow. It's organic. It's a reminder for me in a busy world that some things still demand time, effort, and intention.

It slows me down. 

And fresh bread beats store bought in every way. Don't fall for instants in the important parts of life. Slow down and take the time. Relationships and intimacy take a long time. Growth and change even longer. Learn to slow down your expectations and persevere past the instant gratification. You won't be sorry, and the end result will be far better than you ever could have imagined. 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. -Ephesians 3:20



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Here's my favorite Challah Recipe

1/14 cup warm water
1/2 cup honey
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
5 cups Sprouted Whole Grain Flour

Glaze:
1/4 cup milk
1 egg white
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp olive oil


1. Dissolve honey with water and active dry yeast and let sit for 15 minutes or until creamy white foam forms on top.

2. Stir in salt, olive oil, and eggs, and then add your flour on cup at a time until dough is tacky (not sticky).

3. Turn on floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. 

4. Place in oiled bowl with towel over it in warm place (I use the top of my oven, preset to 350 F) for 90 minutes. 

5. Pinch dough into two halfs (these will be your two loaves.) Then take each half and quarter it (in 4). You'll roll each into long strands to fold into a braid. 

6. You will do the under 2 over 1 braid. See video here. Once done let the loaves rise for another hour on a pan (highly recommend parchment paper underneath.)

7. Make a glaze for the olive oil, milk, egg white, and sugar, or sprinkle with egg white and sesame seeds.

8. Bake 30 minutes until light golden brown. 




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