During last year, my Year of Living Differently, I often found myself not moving on to new ways of living, but going back to how I used to live, back when I took more time for the things I enjoyed. One of those things was baking from scratch.
From the time my husband and I moved in together until we had our first baby nine years later, I used to bake at least once or twice a week. All of our friends were students, most of them guys living in dingy apartments or dorms who came to our place for dinner several times a week, so I always had enthusiastic recipients for my baking.
I took a class on bread making through the community centre and I was hooked. I baked almost all of our bread and rolls. A jar of sourdough starter perpetually bubbled in the back of our fridge.
Other things crowded into my life and baking was pushed aside (left on the back burner?) more often than not. But I’ve dusted off my recipes and gotten back to baking. Ah, kneading—I had forgotten how therapeutic it is. Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, flour your hands (or, in my case, flour your hands and then remember to set the timer, thereby getting flour all over it), and start. Fold, press, turn; fold, press, turn. Stop thinking about all the things on your to-do list, feel the tension start to abate, fold, press, turn.
Recently I’ve combined the old and the new by baking something I’ve never made before: bagels! Dropping donuts of bread dough into boiling water—how fun is that? Quite a lot of fun, actually. I used a recipe that I tore out of a Family Fun magazine way back in 2004; you can see it here. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, and the second time I made 16 smaller bagels instead of 8 larger ones. They turned out great both times, even though I bake in a 1970s-era oven that achieved consciousness sometime before we moved into this house and likes to spontaneously heat itself up to 500 degrees F.
Sorry, I have no pictures. My kids loved these bagels so much that they even had them—plain—for dessert instead of ice cream (crazy, I know. It must be their father’s fault), and they ate them all before the light was good enough for a photo session.