Yesterday I wrote just a little bit about bread baking & shared some recipes. Today, I want to talk more about the bread baking process and how it parallels a life of faith.
My mom was quite a cook / baker when I was growing up. We always had something freshly baked at our house – cookies, breads, muffins, cakes, etc. She had a couple of bread recipes that were memorable (I’ll post them later so keep your eyes peeled). One of them was Swedish Rye Bread – which was a sweeter rye; and the other was a Ranch flavored white loaf that we LOOOOOVED to eat. They required some time to make, so they were special treats when we got them!
I learned how to bake bread myself when I was a nanny living in California. I was about 19 at the time, and the mom in the house had a beautiful bread baking cookbook. I read it a few times and decided to try my hand at making some recipes. I did okay – but later, after a few semesters of college, when I shared an apartment with a few friends – I tried again. I practiced some, and realized that every part of the bread making process was important, and after a few loaves, I began to produce good loaves of bread.
Quality ingredients are required for fresh tasting bread. Fresh flour. Active yeast. Water at the right temperature. Good, wholesome ingredients to produce a good, nutritious bread. Bad ingredients will lead to the wrong taste, the wrong texture, and wasted ingredients.
Correct Technique is necessary to incorporate the ingredients thoroughly and knead the bread properly. This was always the toughest part of the process for me. I tended to knead a bit too long, and a bit too hard. I applied too much pressure – and it showed in the tough bread that baked out. Not enough time or pressure would not really get the yeast going and a flatter bread would be produced. Sometimes, if the incorrect technique was used, the dough was ruined, and had to be thrown out.
Resting periods are absolutely crucial to the yeast breads. Allowing adequate time for the yeast to do its work and letting the bread dough rest is all part of the process. Even during this time, the evidence that improper techniques have been used in the mixing or kneading of the bread can be seen. Sometimes it was hard to leave the dough alone – just because I was nosy and wanted to feel how things were moving along, but drafty conditions would interrupt the yeast growth, which requires warm, still air.
TIME, however, is the most critical part of the entire bread making process. All of these other steps are necessary to the production of great bread. Time is needed in both in the making of the recipe, and in learning how to create that perfect loaf of bread.
It takes time to check that the ingredients are fresh and measured correctly. It takes time to apply the proper technique and the right amount of pressure to knead the bread dough without overworking it. It takes time to allow the yeast to do its work and allow the bread to rise before placing it into the oven.
As I’m becoming reacquainted with the bread making process, I am finding a clear picture of what God is doing in my life on a personal level.
I’ll be honest – I’ve collected quite an assortment of ingredients through the many years – many of which have to be tossed out. They are no good. They are not going to contribute to goodness in my life, and they must be thrown away.
I have lived some habits that allow for hardness in the wrong places, and softness too, for that matter. I have allowed thought patterns and bad attitudes cycle and fester in my heart and mind and they have produced some tough dough, as it were, in my living out the daily life…
So God, MY master chef, has been removing the bad. Tossing out the old ingredients. Throwing away the ruined dough.
Selfishness. Pride. Anger.
And bringing in fresh and wholesome ingredients.
Love. Humility. Kindness.
His Word is like the yeast in my life. Speaking to me daily, equally revealing dead wood and new growth…
Ezekiel 36:26 – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And it has taken much time. To acknowledge the ways in which I have wronged people. To understand the lasting effect my life can have on my husband, my children, my friends, and other people I come into contact with. He has brought both His skill and knowledge into my life on a very basic level. And He has kneaded. And kneaded.
It has been a little painful – I haven’t always wanted to be kneaded in those moments of stretching and pressing – but He has gently continued, knowing that in the end, it is necessary to bring out the best in me. He has applied much pressure at times – but at the perfect match for what is needed in my life, with the correct ingredients He needs to incorporate to produce what is useful and delightful and lovely.
And then He has brought rest into my life, too. Knowing that His application of pressure and introduction of kneading into my life, requires some rest to allow for growth. To allow His Word to do its work in me and grow me into the woman He designed me to be.
And as He continues to prepare me for whatever it is He holds for me, I hope that in the end, the aroma of my life is pleasing to Him.
Only Time will Tell…