Part Two:  Creating your own unique bread recipes

Collage of flower, flower design, and freshly baked scored bread
Unique recipes you can make at home

Method of life and method for baking bread 

How both enrich our lives

Not long ago, we published a Reflection called Meditation and The Art of Baking Bread.  Many of you readers from around the world wrote to us asking “for a recipe.” 

I am happy to comply.  A recipe will be found below. In fact, there are two recipes!

Yet I find something keeps coming to mind. An age-old wise adage:

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Teach a man to fish

I imagine here we could rephrase that wise old saying about teaching self-sufficiency to something like this for bakers:

Give a baker a recipe, and you teach the steps for making a good loaf.  

But if you instead:

Give a baker a method, you teach bakers how to create infinitely new, unique recipes for the rest of their lives.

Give a baker a method

So today, I will do both.  Read below and you will find recipes.  But long before that, it is my hope that you will understand a simple method.  A method that, when applied, can lead to a variety of breads of all sizes, shapes and, perhaps, most wonderful of all: varied ingredients. Flours, grains, seeds, sweeteners, flavors and aromas, each of which lead to unique and deliciously nutritious loaves.

Baking bread with a variety of grains, many loaves
Baking bread is a unique experience each and every time

The importance of method in time and space

Let’s think together for a few minutes about the importance of method, not only for baking, but for doing well any task, including living life itself.

There is no recipe for life.  But there are methods of life. 

A method is the pattern we develop to give importance to everything we wish to give importance to.

We give importance

I find it important in a method of life to ensure there is:

Time to meditate

Reflect.

Time to write.

Work.

Time to rest.

Moments for the people I love.

Young woman meditating by shore
Time outdoors, time to meditate

Method of life makes choices conscious

You decide what yours will be.

I found one that works for me.  It includes some time every day for silence and reflection.  Learning a meditation practice.  Moments dedicated to reading and writing.  Finding about about the world’s peoples: their lives, struggles, loves and pains. Time for prayer. A good method includes time outdoors. And, perhaps most especially, it includes time spent with the people who are most important to me.

We all have a pattern in our life.  Method makes it conscious and chosen.

And so it is with baking bread.  A method that can be adapted to make a unique recipe, one that suits your needs and preferences.

So let me share with you here some reflections of my method of making bread.  I did not invent it.  Rather it is something that evolved over the years after practice, reading recipes, trying new ones, and little by little daring to invent my own.

Fresh loaf of multigrain bread
Freshly baked multigrain bread
Bread is life. 

Baking bread and making it beautiful and nourishing is a wonderful way, I have found, to enrich your life and bring happiness to those around you.

So let me share with you here a method. Simple.  A very simple method.

One that is also easy to remember.  Just two simple numbers to remember.

A simple method for baking bread

5 to 3.

That means, five parts flour to three parts liquid.

Remember two numbers: 5 and 3

Five parts flour to three parts liquid.

That is the basic method for making bread.

Add some leavening, if you like, and some salt.

And there you have it.  A method for baking bread.

Whether a flat bread like human beings have been making for tens of thousands of years,

(Remember that the next time you make pancakes):

Pancakes with strawberries
Pancakes have been made for thousands of years

or a yeasted sourdough bread, made by human beings at least since the times of ancient Egypt, with this simple formula, five parts flour to three parts liquid, you can create your own unique recipes. Baking bread together leads to breaking bread together. The foundation of fellowship, community and family life.

Slices of a fresh loaf of artisan bread
Freshly baked bread with a lovely design

Let me give you first a most simple example:

Basic White Bread

5 cups bread flour

3 cups water

1 T active dry yeast

1 T salt

Mix together until a smooth dough is formed.

I like to use an electric mixer:

Mixer with dough hook kneading dough
Knead the dough easily with dough hook

After it forms a smooth ball:

Let it rise 1 to 2 hours.

Gently fold dough and form a round loaf.

Let rise again in a bread basket for an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Turn dough gently onto a parchment paper.

Score with your favorite design.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden.

Now let’s get creative baking bread

Now let’s make a unique loaf of bread:

Multigrain sourdough bread

Measure:

5 cups of these ingredients, that is, the flours, seeds, grains, etc. that I will uniquely use:

3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup oat flour, ½ cup flax meal,

½ cup of hemp hearts  = 5 cups flour ingredients

And now, 3 cups of liquid ingredients. 

2 cups water, ½ cup molasses, ½ cup sourdough starter = 3 cups liquid

And for this amount of flour and liquid, I’ve found this amount of salt and yeast works well:

1 T salt

1 tsp yeast

Technique:

Basically, we’ll follow the same instructions as the previous basic loaf:

Mix together until a smooth dough is formed.

I like to use an electric mixer:

After it forms a smooth ball:

Dough mixed together in a bowl before baking bread
Baking bread begins in the bowl

Let it rise 2 to 3 hours.

Gently fold dough and form a round loaf.

Let rise again in a breadbasket for an hour of until double in size.

Dough rising in bread basket
A bread basket works well for the final rise

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Turn dough gently onto a parchment paper.

Score with your favorite design.

Risen dough scored for baking
Score your bread with a simple design

Bake for 45 minutes until golden.

I often bake this bread in a dutch oven pot, covered for ½ hour and uncovered for the last 15 minutes.

Round loaf of artisan bread and an orange dutch over pan:  baking bread the old fashioned way
Freshly baked bread hot from the oven

As you get used to making bread, you will find that a few tweaks can make a big difference.  For example, I usually use ½ cup of the total liquid to mix the yeast, setting it aside till it “wakes up” and bubbles.  This is especially good when the water has a bit of the molasses.  The yeast really gobbles it up!

Another tweak that I find necessary is to pay attention to how the dough looks as I mix it. 

Depending what part of the country I am in at the time, I may need to add some more water or some more flour. 

Even climate affects your dough

Yes, it’s true.  It depends on climate, humidity, and other factors, how the dough will come out.

Depending on what the season is, too, really affects the dough.

Kneading dough, father and child baking bread together
Father and child baking bread together

For example:

A cold, below zero snowy day in New York will mean that the house has very low humidity and lots of dry heat.  The flour, therefore, will be dry and lacking moisture.  That will affect the dough and it might seem too dry while I am kneading it.  Therefore,  I will add a couple more tablespoons of water, or even up to a ¼ cup, if the day is very dry, until the dough mixes well.

Likewise, a summer day when I am in Florida will result in a humid environment and flour that has a high humidity rate.  The dough may seem too wet as I mix it.  In this case, I will add a few more tablespoons of flour, till the consistency is where I want it to be.

I mention sourdough starter, remember?  Sourdough is a lovely subject, worthy of another blog (stay tuned for Part 3!)

Just as a little clarification:  I’ve included the sourdough starter within my measurement of 3 cups of liquid, though the starter I make is actually ½ flour and ½ water. 

But it works for me to measure it as liquid.  This is something that is good to know:  making bread is not an exact science, and there is room for adjustments and changes.

Sourdough adds flavor and nutrition

Also good to know:  a wetter dough will promote a higher rise and a crumb with larger holes, while a dryer dough will result in a dense crumb.  Sometimes this is more a matter of taste. 

Your unique recipe is likely to evolve over time, as you get a “feel” for the dough and what it is that you are looking for.

Jar of bubbly sourdough used in baking bread of all varieties
Sourdough not only raises dough but enhances flavor and nutrition

As you work with dough, you will soon become aware that you are holding in your hands a living, growing thing.  It is marvelous to imagine the yeast cells eating the sugars and actually making the grains of the flour more digestible, releasing the nutrients to be more easily absorbed by your body when you eat the freshly baked bread.

Did you know bread is more nutritious, especially when risen slowly with a good yeast or sourdough, than the same flour prepared as a porridge?  There is something extraordinary about the fermentation that takes place in the time of raising bread that actually converts the nutrients into a form that is better for human consumption.

No wonder bread has been such a vital part of cultures around the world for millennia.

In conclusion, I would like to share with you an ancient text from a language that predates Sanskrit and Hebrew but actually shares some of the root words of both those languages.  It is called Aripal, and old texts tell us that it dates back to ancient Egypt. 

Prayer in praise of bread

It is a prayer praising bread, that marvelous life-giving wonderful food. 

Furthermore, it demonstrates how early bakers related with the origins of bread.

Many books on baking bread talk about leavened bread as being “discovered” in ancient Egypt. Fragments of yeasted dough have been discovered in ancient pottery remnants thousands of years old.  Historians believe that it is likely that yeasted bread was discovered accidently.  Someone left a pottery vessel overnight with porridge, which in the warm desert air began to grow from yeast that blew into it.  (Did you know? Yeast lives in the air around us, and thus, with time, your sourdough becomes unique. It actually adapts to the time and place you live. Amazing.) Imagine the astonishment of those first bakers who found the dough had doubled in size over night. Baking bread that is leavened may be a craft perfected by human beings for more than 10,000 years old.

Loaf of crusty sourdough bread
Baking bread is love

So here it is for you, an English translation of an ancient prayer.  Aripal prayer to Divine Bread:

Hymn to Divine Bread

Lama Mann

Bread of sacrifice

Schin mann  

Bread of Eternity

Cam mann         

Abundant bread

Dalet mann   

Power-giving bread

Albe mann       

White bread

Mane Mann        

Bread worthy of the table

Rore mann  

Rose-colored bread

Bech mann         

Scarlet bread

Mann mann  

True bread

Amon mann                                                 

Bread of God.

Wheat given to humankind

Sura sur    

The angels

Schin buhm                                                   

From heaven to Earth

Cam cur                                                         

Always bear

Amon atum                                                  

To God made flesh

Venia vin                                                        

Wheat is given to the cultivators

Perilhuya ad                                                 

And is their glory

Gutha vin                                                      

Slave of the cultivators

Perilhuya ad                                                 

And is their glory

Bech mann                                                   

This blood bread

Mann mann                                                     

Is true bread.

The glory of bread

Ahehia ank                                                   

Ahehia who is life

Cam cur                                                         

Is always the bearer

Buhm ank                                                     

Of life upon Earth

Sur asur                                                       

The good spirit and the evil spirit

Mene mann                                                  

Have bread in the house

Bech mann                                                   

The red bread

Perilhuya ad                                                 

Can sing its glory

Cam mann                                                    

The bread is always for her

Sem el ad                                                      

And for human beings.

Bread of eternity

Lama mann                                                   

Bread of sacrifice

Schin mann                                                   

Bread of Eternity

Cam mann                                                    

Abundant bread

Dalet mann                                                   

Power-giving bread

Albe mann                                                    

White bread

Mane mann                                                  

Bread worthy of the table

Rore mann                                                    

Rose-colored bread

Bech mann                                                   

Scarlet bread

Mann mann                                                 

True bread

Amon mann                                                 

Bread of God.

Heavenly bread 

Sem el gur                                                    

The sacrificed human being

Amon atum                                                  

Is God made flesh

Lama gur                                                       

Is pain and sorrow sacrificed

Amon atum                                                  

God made flesh

Schin mann                                                   

Heavenly bread

Cam ote cam                                                

It always, always is

Albe mann                                                     

It is white bread

Gur mann                                                      

Bread of pain and sorrow

Ali albe                                                           

For the pure disciple

Cam ote cam                                               

It always, always is.

The hour of the meal

Rore roar                                                       

A rose-colored dress

Hiv hivac                                                       

Is worn by the chosen woman.

Albe clam                                                      

A white tunic

Cam mann                                                    

Always, at the hour of the meal

Mane cam                                                     

And at the hour of eating

Pad saled                                                       

Is worn by the officiating Priest.

Rore roar                                                       

A rose-colored dress

Gene cam                                                      

Is always worn by the prophetess.

Amon atum                                                  

God is flesh

Dalet mann                                                  

And his bread is power.

Love is bread

Babeel mann                                                

Evil also is bread

Cam ote cam                                                

All is bread

Anhunit mann                                             

Love is bread

Cam ote cam                                                

All is bread

Philo mann                                                   

Understanding is bread

Ote om                                                        

The word is bread

Beatrix mann                                               

Intuition is bread

Ote om                                                      

The word is bread

Ahehia Hes                                                   

The Divine Mother

Mane mann                                                  

Is bread on the table.

About the Author(s)

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Writer, translator, educator, and above all, seeker of freedom.

Cafh Foundation editor, including books: Living Consciously, The Art of Living in Relationship, and the new, bilingual collection of poetry: Landscape of the Soul.