The Staff of Life: why you need to knead

“To participate in breadmaking is, in itself, a opportunity (not always taken) towards multidimensionality.”  — Brother Juniper’s Bread Book by Peter Reinhart 

There is something very therapeutic about bread baking.  The smell of fresh-baked bread wafting from the oven on a cold winter day can comfort even the most disheartened.  The modern bread machine makes it easy, but I have recently discovered the joys of hand-kneading.  The rewards are great, and it’s much easier than you might imagine.  For nurses who tend to like hands-on processes, the process of transforming a bowl of flour, yeast and water into a smooth dough using only your hands is both elemental and miraculous.  It will also take you back to your days in Microbiology.  Yeast breads rely on yeast a live organism, more specifically a fungus, a one-celled form for its leavening which also affects flavor and texture in the bread through a process called fermentation 

If you’re making yeast bread for the first time, start with a simple, basic recipe of flour, yeast, salt and water.  Buy the little packages of yeast at the grocery story that say “rapid rise” or instant, that way you can mix it all in together.  The kneading process only takes about 10 minutes, and it’s a nice stress-relieving workout for your hands.  If you’ve been dealing with a particularly irritating doctor, you can take out all your hostilities on the dough.  If you’re in a more nurturing frame of mind, you can massage the dough.  Either way, the results will turn out the same! 

I started with a simple lesson from The Fresh Loaf:     As in nursing, it’s good to have an understanding of the basics and how the process works before you progress to adding other things.  The process of bread making doesn’t require alot of actual effort time, but it does require that you be home for a long stretch for the rising and baking, so make sure you are doing this on a stay-at-home day.   

The best reward comes from eating that first slice, hot and fresh from the oven.  Forget the carbs, full speed ahead!



My First Loaf


Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter is the greatest of all feasts.
James Beard from Beard on Bread, 1980


1 Comment

Filed under cooking, Uncategorized

One response to “The Staff of Life: why you need to knead

  1. Home made bread makes everyone feel good 😉 especially as it bakes. I love having control of the ingredients to make simple bread without added chemicals. There is an easier way to make great bread, without kneeding, which I discovered some years ago. Here is a link:

    Best wishes, WG

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