The Sandpoint Eater: What we knead

By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Food Columnist

The past week left me looking for a safe haven from all that threatened my well-being. Thick, acrid smoke compromised my health while wildfires consuming my beloved Montana landscapes compromised my spirit. Foreboding anxiety for friends and family in Florida kept me glued to the television all weekend, waiting to see where Irma would deliver her mighty wrath. Even a deadly earthquake in Mexico left me to question what could come next?

While these natural disasters gave me pause, nothing shook my core like the symbols of hatred and bigotry (fliers and letters) that have returned to Sandpoint, delivered in the dark of night, by hate mongers who don’t deserve to live here.

When I’m upset, overwhelmed or just plain sad, I retreat to the sanctuary that’s my kitchen. This past week was certainly one to seek refuge, and from morning until dusk I baked my heart out, bewildered by the bias that overshadows my community’s sense of well-being.

And I find I’m not alone.  Many take comfort or solace in baking. Take for instance, the initiative International Bake Bread for Peace Day, that takes place on Oct. 24. It was started in 2014 by an Irish woman named Breezy Kelly. Breezy, who hails from Glenties, County Donegal, and wants to bring the people of the world together with the simplest of gestures: breaking bread (yes, meeting Breezy will surely happen on my next trip to Ireland).

“Baking bread together as a sign of peaceful intentions is a world-wide custom, common to cultures around the globe,” Kelly said, “and it is the main aim of Bake Bread for Peace to bring the tradition into communities and to strengthen it where already present.”

The beautiful tradition of “breaking bread” is a centuries-old custom, and King Arthur Flour wants to make sure that it won’t become a lost art. They have begun a program, Bake For Good, designed for schoolchildren. The kids learn to make bread from scratch, and then share their creations with the community. King Arthur even provides some of the ingredients. I hope some of our local teachers will take advantage of the Bake For Good program, and our community of kids can find commonality, baking alongside a school buddy, regardless of backgrounds or the baggage that comes from preconceived notions, learned at home.

These baking projects reminded me of some of my own special communal times while baking. Most recently, I taught a private cooking class for a culinary-savvy 12-year-old visiting from Houston. It was a gift from his aunt, and it ended up being a gift for me, too. Michael was curious and eager and dove right into a batch of pizza dough like an expert. His enthusiasm was contagious, and his farewell hug was genuine. We were an unlikely pair, but we forged a common bond, and we’re both looking forward to a repeat performance next summer.

Maybe you’ll want to gather some of your own friends or neighbors (or grab a kid or two) for a baking day (your baking efforts of a loaf or two would be a welcome addition at one of our local soup kitchens).

Even though International Bake Bread for Peace Day is six weeks away, I’ve already started baking bread so I can share this simple yet powerful symbol for peace (and hopefully encourage others to do the same). You can follow my progress, in photos, on Instagram: TheSandpointEater.

For more information about “Bake Bread for Peace Day” (including pictures and recipes of bread posted by people from all around the world), visit:

https://www.facebook.com/bakebreadforpeace

You’ll find additional Bake For Good information (and applications for teachers) at:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/bakeforgood/kids/self-directed.html 

If you don’t already have a family-favorite bread recipe, try mine for an easy and delicious loaf (perfect for a bread and soup supper). Thanks for helping me spread Breezy’s message about the great knead for peace.

 

Crusty Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 cups water

• 1 tbs yeast

• 1 tbs olive oil

• 1 tbs sugar

• 2 tsp salt

• 4 cups unbleached flour

• 1 cup wheat flour

Directions:

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) add the sugar, allow yeast to proof or foam (about 10 minutes).

Mix flours together. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes (add herbs, etc. at this point).

Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.

Deflate the dough (be gentle and you’ll have nice air holes in your loaves) and divide in half for two loaves.

Shape dough into two rounds (or one large one).

Grease and sprinkle a sheet pan with semolina or cornmeal. 

Place loaves on the sheet pan, dust with flour and score the top of each loaf. 

Cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake 25 additional minutes.

Spray water on the loaves during the first fifteen minutes in the oven for the nice crunchy crust.

When done, Interior of bread should be 190 degrees. Cool on wire rack.

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