The Need to Knead

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I’ve been having a persistent hankering to bake bread lately. I don’t like to do it at home, because it’s not good for the celiac-sufferer of the house. I’m pretty good at avoiding cross-contamination, but I can’t seem to make bread without flour getting into the very air. Can you?

Instead, I went over to my parents’ place and made them a loaf of black bread from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite. It’s a beautiful book. I’ve got it out from the library, but I think I might have to own my own copy soon.

This bread is rich, but it’s not heavy. The flavours are enhanced by cocoa powder and instant coffee, blackstrap molasses and shredded carrots. I skipped the caraway, as I’d forgotten to add it to my shopping list, but I didn’t miss it in the loaf.

I haven’t made bread entirely by hand for quite a while and I enjoyed kneading this bread for the ten minutes it required. There’s something quite soothing about kneading bread. Not just the repeated, meditative motions, but also the changes your hands render on the dough. The whole process is soothing, really. Seeing and feeling the dough change from sticky and dull to elastic and shiny, the aroma of yeast and seasonings as it rises, punching it down and shaping it, knowing by its scent when it’s ready to come out of the oven – all these things are part of what makes baking bread so satisfying. I’m glad I made time for it this week.

I took a quarter of the loaf home with me and left the rest for my parents. When I spoke to my Mom today, she said she thought we could mix up the dry ingredients and portion them into containers, so that she’d have a head start on making a loaf. That’s the gold standard of praise for a recipe, right there.

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I used some of my portion to make a grilled cheese and smoked turkey sandwich. It was so good! I only dressed it with scant amounts of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. There was almost no need for even that – the bread has so much flavour, especially when the molasses caramelizes in the pan.

The smoked turkey was a delicious pairing for the bread. My mother picked it up at the Bob’s Bar ‘n’ Grill deli in Aldergrove. They smoke their meat in house and it’s really good. I’m not sure I needed to know that – I may develop a habit when I go out to visit my parents.

I suspect I might be making this bread regularly when I go out to Aldergrove, but it’s not the only loaf I’ve got on my to do list. And I’d love to hear about the bread you’ve been making, or recipes you recommend for my next flour-raising adventure.

You can find a version of Henry’s Black Bread here.