My bread-making obsession was born in the perfect storm of an actual snowstorm on the first Friday of the new year.
A 2-hour delay. Kids ready to go. A few packages of yeast in the back of the pantry.
I made pizza dough.
Then I threw it away. Too much water.
I made pizza dough again.
And I threw it away. I had not activated the yeast.
I made pizza dough a third time (after a quick Google-education on yeast).
This one we kept.
The pizza was ok.
But watching yeast work its magic was amazing.
The next day, inspired by a "Great British Baking Show" binge, I made a braided challah bread. It was beautiful. And delicious.
The next weekend I made pizza dough and a baguette.
Eight weeks later, I've made at least one bread every weekend in 2018. More baguettes. An Italian loaf. A honey wheat loaf that nobody really loved. The pretzels are, so far, the fan favorite.
Oh, and a lot of pizza dough. We've found a favorite.
Part of this hobby comes from a lifelong love of baking and a lifelong fear of yeast blended with an old misbelief that bread could only be made with a bread machine.
Part of it comes from a need for balance.
All week long, I write. I squint at my screen in pre-dawn darkness. I noodle ideas while sipping warm milk by moonlight. I create characters in the shower. I type all afternoon.
By the weekend, my head swells with word counts and sentence structure. My heart aches from having been twisted and wrung out and shaped into words. My fingers are curled into claws.
I need a break.
So, I make bread.
I dig into flour, salt and yeast. I twist and wring it all together and shape loaves. I stretch my fingers, kneading the dough, sometimes long after the kneading is done.
In the end, I have produced something tangible. Edible. Something transformed. My head feels satisfied. My heart feels nourished. My fingers feel productive.
And I have something to snack on when I return to my office.