Can I compare bread making to a mindful yoga practice?
If you buy into the neurological view point of yoga then yes I think you can.
Learn how we make delicious freshly baked bread yogi’s love.
I love making bread
When I was a boy my mother made freshly baked bread at home. I learned bread making when I was a chef student at Sandefjord Kokk and Stewart School in Norway in 1983. I remember our baker, a burley Danish man impress on us the importance of the precision of baking..Baking he suggested was a science.
Since those youthful days in the 1980’s I have loved baking bread. Its no exaggeration to say I’ve probably baked a loaf 3 times a week for the last 30 odd years. I’ve done this for employers, for yoga retreat guests, for myself and for my family. I can safely say that nobody has ever complained about a homemade freshly baked bread I’ve made! Well at least out loud. In fact a yoga retreat on the Isle of Wight that we host would never be the same without a few of Erling’s loaves.
An emotional connection to bread
It’s not that I am the most talented baker ever, definitely not, but there is undoubtedly something about freshly baked bread that triggers emotions in us. Most people I’ve cooked for love the smell of baked bread. I think we feel a connection to our ancestors.
How old is bread?
Until recently the oldest evidence of bread came from Turkey and that was dated at 9000 years. However at a dig site in Jordan scientists have discovered evidence of much older crumbs left by hunter gathers in their fire pits. Yes crumbs.. 14,000 years old ones.
Humans love bread
Bread, in all its various forms, is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world. Not only is it an important source of carbohydrates, it’s also portable and compact, which helps to explain why it has been an integral part of our diet for thousands of years.
I actually think that to make a successful freshly baked bread you need more than just science, you need to be present. In other words, you need to be mindful. We were taught to kneed bread, that kneading was essential to how the bread would rise. If you knead by hand, you get to feel the dough, the resistance to your touch as the carbon dioxide in it releases. The length of time for the first rise is important and the second kneading to shape the bread into a dough ball. This is the crucial process feeling the bread take shape thats a process that is a yogic and anything else I know.
Shaping the dough demands you feel whats going on in the bread and importantly in you. Are you mindful of your thoughts and tensions in your tissues? Does breathing help?
If you are reading this you probably already go to a yoga class but if you don’t its never too late to learn. Read about starting yoga in your 50’s here. In fact, while you’re at it are you able to notice yourself? what do you think enables you to be self aware?
Without further ado here is one of my favourite and easy to make bread recipes. We have served this many, many times.
Wholemeal and Spelt Loaf
- 200 g Wholemeal Spelt Flour
- 200 g Wholemeal Flour
- 75 g Strong Rye Flour
- 125 g Strong White Flour
- 1 tbsp Active yeast
- 380 ml Water Luke warm
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt
- 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
- Measure and weigh all the flours in a mixing bowl or food processor bowl
- Add the yeast and salt
- Mix all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes
- Mix the oil and warm water together and then slowly pour in the mixer bowl to combine the dry into a dough ball.
Autolyse & Kneading
- The dough ball should slowly release from the sides of the bowl. You might want to knead the dough on a floured rolling surface.
- Drop the dough in a large bowl and cover for one hour in a warm place to rise.
- Knock the risen dough on the rolling surface and knead in a circular motion to shape the dough into a second rise ball. You are essentially folding the dough back on its self in circular motions until the ball holds up.
- Gently roll from the middle until the ball stretches to an oblong shape. Place in an oiled bread tin and rise for 20-30 minutes uncovered in a warm place.
- Bake in a pre heated 180°C oven for 30-35 minutes
- Remove from the tin and cool on a cooling rack.