There is something about a cool, brisk day when your house is filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread that is soothing.
Homemade bread is my ultimate comfort food, and if I have ever had the pleasure of hosting you at my table I am sure to lavish you with my favorite bread recipe. It is a recipe that my best friend shared with me over a decade ago. The crispy crusts envelopes the light and fluffy crumb and is like a slice of heaven when you serve it warm and slathered in real butter. This is amazing stuff, my friends!
I love the symbolism of breaking bread at the table with my friends.
Throughout Scripture, we see bread used as a symbol of generosity and sharing. In the Old Testament Moses feeds his people in the desert with the manna, the bread that fell from Heaven.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a Hebrew word meaning “House of Bread.”
In the New Testament, Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the crowds.
Bread is so basic to our nourishment in life, that it is only fitting that God would choose bread as the matter to nourish our spiritual life in the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, the living bread of life, Jesus feeds us with his Body and Blood. Through this Blessed Sacrament, we come into communion with Jesus and with one another.
St. John Paul II tells us “from the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others.” When we partake in the Mass, we join others at the banquet table, the altar, to share in this heavenly feast.
When I serve bread at our family table, I hope that it is a reminder to all who partake that we desire to walk with them in friendship.
We seek to share life with them. We seek to walk with them as they journey through this earthly life on the way to the greatest feast we can imagine: the banquet of Heaven. Let us be bread for one another, seeking our strength from Jesus, the living bread!
In case you need a new bread recipe to share with others, here is my favorite!
3 cups bread flour
1 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Mix flour, yeast, and salt.
Add water and mix with a wooden spoon or paddle attachment on a stand mixer.
The dough will look like a wet dough.
Roll dough in olive oil to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl.
Leave the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and towel. Let mixture stand at room temperature 12-18 hours or overnight. I keep my dough in the bowl that is part of my stand mixer.
The dough should look glossy, liquidy and bubbly when it is ready.
When ready, turn the dough onto a floured surface and coat the dough with flour. Cover dough and let rest for ten minutes. If you are busy it can be longer.
Shape dough into a loaf. I kind of stretch it out and then roll it up. Coat a lint-free cloth (non-terrycloth) with cornmeal and put the loaf on top of this cloth in a large bowl. Cover and let rise for at least 2 hours.
When the dough is ready to go, preheat the oven with a pan that can be covered (I use a la Cloche but you could probably use any dutch oven) to 475. Remove pan and coat the bottom of the pan with cornmeal. Place bread in the pan. Turn oven down to 450 and bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for additional 10-15 minutes. Transfer bread to a cooling rack when finished so that the bottom crust stays crunchy.