Making bread is an athletic event. Not only does it require dashing around to several stations of the bakery as you check rising loaves or mix ingredients or haul the mixing bowl out of its cradle -- but it also takes muscle power to activate the gluten in the dough. Even people who wouldn't be able to tell a poolish from a biga know that to make bread, you have to knead it. Push and roll, push and fold, a rhythmic workout on your floured countertop. Do it right, and you'll release a protein called gluten -- strands that let uneven pockets of carbon dioxide form in the loaves. After seven or eight minutes -- long enough for your mind to have made a to-do list of chores around the house, or for you to replay the last conversation you had with your significant other and what he really meant -- the consistency of the dough will transform. Smooth, supple, cohesive.
That's the point where you have to leave the dough alone. It's silly to anthropomorphize bread, but I love the fact that it needs to sit quietly, to retreat from touch and noise and drama, in order to evolve.
I have to admit, I often feel that way myself.
Excerpt from The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult
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