I love bread. There is something about the smell and taste of freshly baked bread that turns me into a three year old doing a happy dance. In my German tradition we shared Abendbrot (literally translated ‘evening bread’). The very word ushers in memories of sharing the last meal of the day with my parents, seated around a small table in our old farmhouse in northern Germany. Bread was always the centrepiece of Abendbrot. Not just any bread, it had to be Schwarzbrot (‘Black bread’), made without yeast, full of grains and rye – tough, austere and delicious. Over the years, as we moved between countries and continents, there was always a rush to discover a shop that would sell somewhat of an equivalent to this cultural comfort food. This simple bread brought to our family a sense of identity, reminding us of who we are, and tying us to our past and tradition.
There is something about bread that reaches beyond barriers of culture and language. Humans find connection in the making and breaking of bread. In our fast-paced, instant society, bread creates a sense of shalom, a sense of togetherness. There is nothing ‘hurried’ about well-made bread. Bread brings a sense of comfort. “All sororws are less with bread,” said Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The smell of baking bread brings a sense of joy and innocence.
Bread speaks of welcome. “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou,” wrote Omar Khayyam, the great Persian philosopher and poet. Bread is symbolic. It features in many faith traditions including Judaism and Christianity. As a follower of Christ I am reminded that he said, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will not hunger.” Bread is about sharing our stories and lives.
So on this day, dear reader, I share with you the blessing of bread and a very unconventional recipe. If you choose to take the 9 day journey of creating it, may you practice mindfulness. Remember amidst the many sorrows that we absorb every day in our world, there is also much good. And for a moment we celebrate that good and we are grateful.
My father’s idea of Sour Rye Bread: Dedicated to man who always bode welcome to the stranger and taught me the importance of ‘sharing bread’.
You will need 100% rye flour – I purchase mine online in bulk. The water I use comes from our rainwater tanks. The difference in using this pure water in the making of bread, kefir and kombucha is remarkable.
Day 1: Take 3 heaped tablespoons of the flour, place in a glass jar and add enough warm, pure water to create a thickened cream consistency. Place the lid loosely on the jar and keep in a warm spot.
Day 2: Check on the contents towards the end of the day. You should be able to see some small bubbles starting to form.
Day 3. Add another teaspoon of rye flour. Stir and smell the mixture. It should start to smell slightly sour. If it smells ‘rotten’, start again! Something has gone wrong in the souring process.
Day 4: Check on the contents … bubbles, smelling sour.
Day 5: Add another teaspoon of rye flour.
Day 6: Take 400gm of rye flour in a glass or steel bowl. Make a well in the middle and add your sour leaven, covering the top with some of the rye flour. Cover bowl with moist cloth and keep in a warm spot.
Day 7: Add enough warm water to create a very thick dough. Add your seeds/kibbles then cover with moist cloth and keep in a warm spot.
Day 8: Kneed the mixture, adding more rye or water, if necessary. Remember to keep the cloth over the bowl moist.
Day 9: Knead mixture and add 2-3 teaspoons of Celtic Sea Salt. Let it rise for a few hours. Prepare bread tin, put mixture in tin and allow to rise again. Bake in 180C oven for 35 minutes (top should be golden brown).