Today is Christmas Eve, and I pulled ten loaves out of the oven this morning. It's a good time to knead bread and watch it grow; to think slow and wait. After eight weeks of micro-baking on a schedule, this week I just sent out an email and let friends order whatever they wanted. Out of five choices, three varieties made it to the table: French Country Levain, Whole Wheat Levain, and Cranberry Pecan Levain.
After tasting a loaf of the Cranberry Pecan, I decided it's my favorite loaf of the year. Hands down. It's also one of the prettiest loaves of the year, featuring a bird-scratch cut on top (don't mind the bird with four toes; that one's irregular). So here's to you, Cranberry Pecan Levain: Best Loaf of 2011 Award.
As my friend David said, it's lucky I made the best loaf now, or it would've had to wait for the 2012 awards. It's kind of like all these Oscar-class movies that hit theaters at the end of the year; know what I mean?
In other news, my wife was gracious enough to take some Christmas-themed still-life photos of the Cranberry Pecan bread (see below). Good work!
So, do I have any closing bread-thoughts for 2011? Here's something:
I think bread-baking, and spirituality, are both concerned with the work of discovery. But not so much the discovery of what one is, as of what one need not be. The simplest loaves are the most enlightening; the prayers with the fewest words are the most true. It's as much about what's left out as what's put in. In my mind, this raises the question, what is the world given in Jesus, and what is it not? What does Jesus mean, and what does he not? What are we for, and what are we not? I can't help but think these questions are more meant for asking than answering. Likewise, baking bread is not an answer for me; it's a question. What do I mean and what do you mean and what does all this mean? I just nod and knead my bread.
Happy Christmas, Happy 2011.