bread makes the meal


    My earliest food memories have to do with bread.

    I grew up in Africa in the late fifties, sixties, and seventies. What bread we had my mother made from scratch, at least in the early years. I think that’s one of the reasons I grew up wanting to be in the kitchen. There’s something about the smells of the whole bread baking process — the dryness of the flour, the pregnant promise of the yeast as it dissolves, the aroma of invitation that fills the house as the bread bakes — that make most any house feel like a home.

    For Ginger and me, special occasions are marked by special bread.

    My mother passed on a family recipe to me for “Refrigerator Rolls,” which is a bread dough that contains yeast, baking powder, and baking soda, and will keep in the fridge for a week or more, making it possible to bake a little each day.

    Here’s the recipe:

    1 quart milk, scalded and poured over

    1 cup sugar and
    1 cup butter
    (I do it in the bowl of my kitchen Aid mixer on low speed)

    Let cool and then add

    2 packages yeast dissolved in
    1/2 cup water


    8 cups of flour, one cup at a time (I use 1 cup of whole wheat flour)

    Cover and let rise until doubled, then add

    1 cup flour mixed with
    3 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking Soddy

    Cover and let rise again.

    When I make our rolls, I use a biscuit cutter and then drag the bottom through some olive oil and fold then in half. You can also cook the dough in loaves; it also makes great cinnamon rolls. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. We’re talking seriously addictive bread here.

    I’m convinced part of what makes bread dough rise are all the memories it contains. Each time I make the rolls I am tapping into the history of my mother and grandmother doing the same thing. I am also connecting with all the loaves that have been baked and broken at any table that was and is to come.

    That’s good honest work.



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