As bleary-eyed new parents we went through a long waiting period. It was eighteen months of compulsively checking emails and grabbing the phone on the first tone of the first ring. We were waiting for a job, a direction, a next step. The wait was longer than either of us expected and we ran out of things to do “in the mean time.”
One particular Thursday, I crossed our welcome mat at 5:15 and covered the ten steps to the kitchen to see that Lance had taken up bread making.
In between trail hikes with Baby Lucy on his back and a huge stack of job applications, he had challenged himself to master the yeast and flour to produce something predictable. The air was thick with the scent of time well spent.
The simplicity of bread is one that we often miss. Flour, Water, Yeast and Time. Nothing more really, but nothing less. Unfancy ingredients blend together with a comfortable wait and give us fluffy, seedy slices of gluten. Regardless of the flour you select, the wait is what truly matters. If you don’t have the time, you won’t have very good bread.
That particular waiting period ended with a bang and a whirlwind move to the city we call our home, but it definitely wasn’t that last wait of its kind. We’ve waited many times since then with various results. I know we will always wait towards something.
I adore having something to look forward to, almost more than I enjoy the thing itself.
But when the thing is not certain to ever actually arrive, that’s when I struggle. I love waiting towards a block on my planner— but waiting in the unknown can be truly lonely.
And still— I confess that I wish I were better at this thing of waiting. If only I could preach to my soul a little earlier in the process before endless anxious striving becomes my daily to-do list.
Do you struggle with this? We may not wake up in the morning planning to exhaust ourselves from the inside out, but we do it anyway. We know what striving feels like. We recognize the way it leaves us bare and peace-less all in a matter of minutes– minutes in which we try to take control.
No matter the thing we’re waiting on, it’s all the same. It is leaning too much on what I want to know and not leaning enough on that which I already do. It’s forgetting the truth that we aren’t meant to strive our way through the wait.
Because, friend? We are not meant to endlessly strive through the wait. No matter what we might do with our hands while waiting, it matters that our hearts are practicing rest.
When I forget to remember that these details are not up to me, time standing at my kitchen counter helps. I watch yeast bloom or onions caramelize and the task is good for my waiting process.
I’m not sure about good things coming to those who wait; but I know there is a good God who holds all our waits in His hands. He holds them all.
This bread is a tangible reminder to my heart of this very thing.
And, it makes two large loaves; just in case you have a friend that also needs to be reminded of the good in the waiting.
- 2½ cups water (105°-115°F) (567 grams)
- 5 ½ cups King Arthur Bread Flour (788 grams)
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil (70 grams)
- 5 tablespoons honey or brown sugar (42 grams)
- ⅔ cup hulled sunflower seeds (90 grams)
- 1 cup rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal) (114 grams)
- 5 tablespoons sesame seeds (40 grams)
- 5 tablespoons flax seeds (50 grams)
- 3 teaspoons salt (20 grams)
- 6¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (20 grams)
- Combine the yeast and the water together for approximately 5 minutes. I often toss in a pinch of sugar; I find it helps the yeast to bloom better.
- After about 5 minutes, add the oil, salt, and sugar. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, mix the ingredients together on a low speed for about a minute.
- After about a minute you will begin to add the flour. You will do this in three installments. Add the first installment of flour and give it a minute to begin to incorporate into the liquid mixture. Once it has incorporated well, add the second. Repeat this with the third and final mixture. Increase the speed of the mixer to about medium. At this point the dough should begin to form and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Add the oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds to the mixture. If you have made any additions to the recipe, such as oat bran, wheat germ, etc., add these now.
- Allow the dough to knead for a few more minutes, no more than about five.
- Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Knead it and shape it into a ball. Deposit the ball in a lightly oiled bowl for approximately 2 hours or until the ball has doubled in size.
- After 2 hours, remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down. If you are only making one loaf, shape it to the size of your loaf pan and cover. If you are making a double recipe, divide the ball into equal pieces. Shape each to the size of your loaf pan and cover.
- Allow the bread to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes, until it’s crowned about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. During this time, preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Bake in a 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 190°F. You can test for doneness by thumping the bottom of the loaf; if it sounds hollow, it is done.
- Remove the loaves from the pans and place them on a cooling rack.
(*You might recall the story of our wait mentioned here, if you’ve read Simmer. This bread is PERFECT with any one of those soups!)