Stephanie Pearce: Baking bread

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Stephanie Pearce

There are few things that smell like home to me more than fresh baked bread. Last week as I wrote about my Grandma’s apron, it brought back memories of baking bread with her. It also seemed like my mom was always baking bread when we were growing up. I love the aroma, so warm and delicious.

The scent of fresh baked bread is so mood changing. I could be having the worst day in the world only to run in the house and smell that bread baking and it would change my sour attitude. It had the calming and soothing affect that lavender has on most people. It makes me feel safe, comfortable and happy.

When the bread would come out of the oven, my poor mother knew to move out of the way. It seemed to be like a beacon not only for her kids, but for all of those on the block. When we could smell the bread, it didn’t matter what we were doing, we would come running. We didn’t wait for the bread to cool, it had to be warm and melt that real butter that we lathered on it. The crunchy crust and the pillow-soft middle would seem like heaven in our mouths. Luckily, Mom made several loaves at a time, but they still didn’t last long.

The bread Mom made served as a base for many dishes. She used it to put hamburger gravy on with a side of green beans. My grandma let her in on a very simple dessert: break up the bread in small chunks in a bowl, pour milk and sugar over it and serve. She also made bread pudding and the best French toast. My favorite use of this bread — besides fresh out of the oven — was a breakfast dish my mom made for me almost every morning, cinnamon toast. She would toast the bread, put cinnamon and sugar on it, heat up some milk and pour that on the toast just to cover it. It just didn’t seem right to start my day without that warm goodness.

When I bake bread, I remember my mom and my grandma putting so much love into their bread. They would stand at the table with their bread on a board, kneading it until it was silky smooth. Baking bread isn’t something you can typically do on a whim. Because it takes a great deal of time, you have to plan it out. I guess I equated all that hard work, the meals it made and the perfumes that filled the air with love and home. I hope that as I make my bread, I’m passing on all those wonderful memories to my kids.

No candle and no essential oil can fill my house like the warm, inviting smell of fresh baked bread. Nothing else can make my family come together like a warm loaf of bread. I think I’ll go make a batch. I hope you will, too.

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