It starts with the fire, which she lights at five a.m. But really, it starts with the email that she sends early in the week. Good afternoon Breadies, Below are this week's bread choices: traditional sourdough boule, cinnamon rasion swirl, pumpkin rasin spice batard, and southern buttermilk biscuits. Of course I asked for something completely different, because Cal had liked the sample she'd given us earlier so much. Rustic white. Breads should be ready by 12- 12:30 p.m. for pick up, but can be picked up anytime in the afternoon.
The oven itself sits proudly in the backyard. A path away from the house, sitting round and proud, almost patient. Ready for the fire. It's all day work, baking the bread. Jackie lights the fire early and brings the heat up to 800º. The goal is to get the heat deep into the bricks, really soaked in. Once the coals are banked and the temperature is down around 500º, it's time to bake.
As the oven heats up and cools down, she measures and mixes, kneads and rolls the dough. It's fascinating to hear her talk about bread and baking. The dough rising too fast and being "happy." About how homes where bread is baked a lot have more yeast in the air. Bread and life are truly connected, aren't they?
The Breadies started arriving early, just as Jackie said they would. Several stayed to nibble on a doughnut (I'll be showing you those tomorrow.), and wait for some extra loaves to come out of the oven. Jackie blogs about her breadmaking here. Later, once everyone has gone, and before she puts her feet up for a much needed rest, she might throw in some heads of garlic to roast. Or the pot of beans that she'd boiled the night before. She hates to waste the heat. For her work, she takes "a small donation to the flour fund" but really, she gives so much more. It's more than the bread, which is pretty spectacular. It's about connection and friendship and caretaking. We all need more of that, I think. Bread and life, yeast in the air, and caretaking. The world needs more of that, I think.