Kneading—A Contemplative Practice—Bread


April 12, 2015

The other day I read an article talking about 10 foods everyone should make at home. Bread was one of the ten. I gotta say I like it when someone says, “everyone should be doing this…” and I am doing it.

Growing up, mother made bread. It was the sixties and early seventies and there was an onslaught of commercials enticing folk to buy easy no work food. Our family, like most, bought and ate plenty enough of this no work food, including bread. So, homemade bread was not a stable during the week, but instead was relegated to weekend food. More like pie.

When we were young adults Belinda and I began making bread. It was a once-in-a-while effort. Encouraged by Belinda’s father and mother, bead made in the home slowly became a norm. If nothing else, Belinda’s father was an opinionated man. A gadget like a bread machines was okay if it were the only way you would make bread. But if you are really going to make bread, you had better get your hands in the middle of the work. He opinionated that if you had time to eat well, you had time to make bread, and everyone has the time to eat well. Any surprise our bread machine has sat on the top shelf in the pantry for a long time?

If there was one thing that kept my bread making practice a once-in-a-while affair it was kneading, particularly the first. Then one day the folks gave us a Kitchen Aid. Now, the Kitchen Aid is just this side of a bread machine, but we choose to think not and in favor of weekly bread, Belinda’s daddy affirmed our thinking. And, after all, it doesn’t do all the kneading. But it does handle the first one and that was enough to get my hands into dough most every week.

After years of bread making I still don’t like the first kneading, I still use the Kitchen Aid, but I have come to enjoy the other kneadings. Pulling the dough, folding it over itself, pushing the folds together with the heel of the hand, turning it a little and repeating the process has become a weekly practice. Kneading lends itself to the contemplative. A bit of the spiritual comes from the weekly making of bread—a wonderful food all by itself, yet one that also enhances any number of foods.

The early spring has been a busy one and the other day I was thinking I did not have the time to make bread. Then guests came out to the farm for a meeting. They arrived just as the bread, a raisin-cranberry, came out of the oven. The looks and smiles that arrived at the same time reminded me, there is always time for good food. A good remembrance in this time when one chore seems piled upon another.




  1. If you love bread and aren’t keen on kneading, sourdough is your bread. I’ve been making it every week for a year now and love the bread, versatility, and even the process. I became allergic to gluten a few years ago and bread fell off my menu. I discovered last year that fermented bread changes the gluten and bread came back into my life. I made my own starter as found on the King Author Flour site, and use “Clair’s Sourdough” recipe, found online. I have given starter dough to many people and some have become regular bakers.
    Love your post and look forward to reading it.


    1. Thank you Brenda. I did not know that sourdough messed with the gluten and could be eaten by folk allergic to gluten. I enjoy sourdough as well…sourdough is our weekly mainstay with wheat breads right behind. In fact the photo is of one of our sourdough loaves. I’ll check out “Clair’s Sourdough” and give it s shot as also. Be well…


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