Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing and Bread Making

I've been making bread lately. No - that is not an euphemism, Australian slang, or anything else like that. It is just something that I've been doing. Because I have a bread maker. It doesn't mean I have been making money hand over fist, either. It is, however, a good analogy for writing, the creative process and so forth. If you found this blog because you Googled bread making feel free to keep reading, because I will actually talk about bread making.


The new bread maker came into the house. I'd been talking about getting one for a while. Talking about how I like fresh bread. But I'd never really made bread before, or owned a bread maker. Maybe I just liked the idea of having a machine that could make bread at will. Or maybe I just hadn't thought the whole thing through.

My flatmate brought home the bread maker, much to my surprise, and almost to my chagrin - I'd been mouthing off about the bread I'd make if I had one. I guess she called my bluff.

Naturally, she expected me to know how to use it. Know how to make good bread. And expected we'd never need to buy bread ever again.

So, I did what anyone would do - I went to the supermarket and bought pre-packaged bread maker bread stuff. I read the instructions on the packet - Water, Bread Stuff, Yeast. In that order. Do not mix them up, add them in a different order - just do that.

I did, and, probably because I had done it with my own hands, watched the whole process, and held the freshly baked loaf in my hot little hands, I exclaimed to the world that I had made the best loaf ever. I feasted on that loaf. It was pretty damn good. It was the best loaf of bread I had had in a while.

The bread stuff I had bought at the supermarket had more bread stuff than required to make one loaf - it had enough for four loaves. I could have just repeated the process four times and had the same bread four times over, but my flat mate had some feedback - she wanted to some bread with cheese and sun-dried tomato. I looked for a recipe in the book that came with the bread maker, and there wasn't one. But there were a few similar ones. And I figured they were close enough to the pre-packaged stuff, that all I needed to do was chop up the sun-dried tomato and add the grated cheese. That became the best bread ever.

I still had the means to make another two loaves of basic bread. All I had to do was follow three steps, and I was done. I bought sliced bread. It was easier. It cost less. I just picked it up at the supermarket, and took it home. It tasted okay, but it was nothing at all like the bread I'd made, either the first or second time. Sure, it was bread, but I'd grown to expect more.

Tonight I decided to make more bread. I used the third of the bread stuff, and improvised a bit more. I had more sun-dried tomato, so I wanted to add those. I had black olives, so I used those. I had some ham, so I sliced those up, told them they would be bacon, and used those. The only cheese I had was sliced, so I took a knife and turned it into a fine diced cheese. I loaded the machine, but I knew I wasn't going to be awake when it all came together and made the next loaf. So, I set the bread maker to pause starting. Everything is still there, still ready, but it will start cooking, and finish cooking, at a time that suits me, not the bread.

I still have a long way to come with my bread making. I can make everything from scratch, for instance. Not use a bread maker. There are a lot of other steps I can take to make my bread better, or more original. But for now, I am happy with how this bread making is turning out.

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