Things have been a bit rough around here this week. Unsurprisingly, we've all been getting on each other's nerves a fair amount, navigating that tender thread between acceptance and resistance, immobility and charge. I've been wanting to bake bread in a sacred way, I don't know why it's been calling to me for so long. I have this fantasy that if I can just knead some dough, punch it down, watch it rise, and then fill this house with the scent of it before dousing a hunk of it in the stew I was making...that perhaps some primal sort of healing will come of it. This is my relationship to bread. Holy sacrament. Willing to hold out for the really good stuff.
I suggested this to the kids yesterday, as their Dad made the long drive home empty-handed from the eleven day hunting trip (He did finish A Moveable Feast; leave it to Hemingway to cost me my winter albondigas...) and we were as restless as ever.
"Hey, who wants to bake some bread?"
They sensed my desperation.
Mumbles were issued.
Being a novice baker, I needed them to be in on the deal, lest I have to manage their disgruntlement while waiting for the perfect rise. Ivy shouted out that she'd make Apple Bread, which I wasn't even sure I'd ever heard of, but with her willing to do it (on her terms, of course), I leapt to defunk our spirits with baking medicine.
We began with this simple recipe and made four mini loaves that were pretty awesome:
Then we had to modify the recipe for so many of our friends who are gluten-free, and because I think Ivy might have a wee gluten sensitivity. (She often breaks out in little red bumps around her mouth and chin after eating things like pretzels and crackers, so we do a fair amount of gf for that reason).
We cut the sugar by a quarter and added maple syrup, subbed out the flour, added more apple in larger chunks, and spiced it up a bit more. The one large loaf took nearly 60 minutes to cook, (the batter could've been shared with a mini loaf pan or two), and the four minis took about 28 minutes. Ivy did all of the mixing, which was really simple, wet things in one bowl and dry in another, then blend & bake at 350.
I didn't get to punch anything, nor test my essentially non-scientific chemistry skillset, but it was a fantastic way to create our way through the big feelings week with a bit more grace and laughs than we'd been having. Even Miles, who has been hit the hardest by the loss of his "best dog", had two slices and dispensed generous compliments to the young mixmistress and her eager assistant.
Thank you all for your cards, gifts, sweet sentiments and love. Loss is something we all face and it is made softer and more graceful by deep compassion and connectedness. THANK YOU.