Baking Bread

Homemade Bread

Breadbaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony.
It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.
— M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

The smell of homemade bread wafting in your home provides a sense of warmth and comfort and the promise of good food. The odor of baking bread can elicit feelings of well-being.

What makes bread smell so good? The little yeast critters are an important factor. They produce chemicals during baking that break down into delicious-smelling aromatics. The key aroma compounds create between eight and 12 notes which create the familiar smell of bread.

Bake Your Own Bread

Making your own bread at home is pretty straight forward with a bread pot by Emile Henry. Directions to make this tasty bread are included with your purchase. The wonderful lidded pot turns bread-baking into a straight-forward, no frills process. Something all of us can do.

Proof And Rise

Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures.
It’s not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life.
— Lionel Poline

Mix together the ingredients: flour, salt, yeast and water. That’s it. Simple.

Allow the dough to proof and rise.

Those ingredients take on a life of their own over the next 12 to 18 hours. The instructions say 18 hours is ideal, gives the dough time to develop its personality, don’t you know.

Such a delightful idea to have a little food-being in a creation process sitting on the counter whilst you run about doing other things.

Once the rise is done, the dough needs a couple of folds, another rest of about 2 hours, and then the dough is dropped into the pre-heated bread pot. Only baking remains. It’s a no-knead bread.

Light With Your Food

For students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®), you can bring extra light to your bread-making skills. Place your hands on the outside of your bowl when it’s full of ingredients, or while the dough is rising.

As the dough rises, you can share a cosmic symbol with your future bread when you happen to walk by. Just saying hello! Of course, when you handle bread dough, folding it, kneading it, you are bringing radiant energy to your food with your Radiant Touch®.

When it’s time to eat, you can place a hand in your heart to remind yourself of gratitude for our food and blessings.

Freezing Bread

Bear in mind, this bread has no stabilizers or preservatives, so it doesn’t do well sitting out on a counter past two days. If you have a small family and you can’t eat it all in a couple of days, you can freeze your bread. It’s ideal to freeze it while newly fresh.

Once it is completely cooled, slice it up and place in a plastic bag that you can seal tightly, then pop into your freezer. If you slice it before freezing, then you can take out slices as you need them. The bread unthaws in a flash and it’s great for toast.

Enjoy Your Bread

Here is bread, which strengthens man’s heart, and therefore is called the staff of Life.
— Matthew Henry

Time to enjoy your bread. Make sure you have a sharp, serrated bread-slicing knife. You don’t want a dull knife squishing down your lovely loaf.

You can top your bread with a slice of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, made with grass-fed cow’s milk. A pure bread-and-butter treat.

Maybe you’ll want to use your bread to sop up some broth or stew. Or, perhaps, you wish to savor the unsullied freshness of your homemade bread and eat it plain, relishing in its chewy crust.

Bon Appétit.

Radiant Nursing is not affiliated with Emile Henry or Kerrygold.
Bread photos taken by Radiant Nursing w/smartphone.

Bake Your Election Day Cake

Election Day Is Nigh

National and midterm elections in the United States take place every two years.

Some people are glued to their television sets to follow minute-by-minute results.

Others, to avoid the stress of it all, keep their tv sets off and check the results once the drama is all over.

Take A Stroll Into The Past

If we were whisked back to colonial times, we'd find ourselves busy preparing our Election Cakes. In early America, Election Day was an important celebration, second only to Thanksgiving.

Our Puritan ancestors did not acknowledge the religious holidays of Christmas or Easter, believing they were too connected to Papist idolatry. Furthermore, to say that religious, "holy days" existed implied that other days of the year were not holy which was not acceptable to them.

Election Day, therefore, provided a rare chance to celebrate in high fashion. Parades filled the streets. People came to town from outlying areas and everyone fêted the day with religious ceremonies, dancing balls and fine food.

Election Cake Old World Recipe

I found an official Election Cake recipe from 1796. With these quantities, you’d have a lot of cake.

Election Cake:
30 quarts of flour
10 pounds butter
14 pounds sugar
12 pounds raisins
3 dozen eggs
one pint wine
one quart brandy
4 ounces cinnamon
4 ounces fine colander seed
3 ounces ground alspice
Prunes and currants

Wet flour with milk to the consistence of bread over night, adding one quart yeast;
the next morning work the butter and sugar together for half an hour, which will render the cake much lighter and whiter; when it has rise, light work in every other ingredient except the prunes, which work in when going into the oven.
— Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

Cakes of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were typically produced through soaking or sour leavening, not unlike sourdough breads. This traditional method of soaking flour in sour milk or leavening dough with sourdough starter optimized nourishment received from these foods. In a time without mass-market refrigerators, it also made use of sour milk that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Election Cakes were filled with healthy, wholesome fats such as butter and fresh eggs. The added alcohol helped with preservation of the cake. The dried fruits made it similar to our infamous fruit cakes of Christmas.

Get Out And Vote

Election Day Cakes were also a way to entice people (in the beginning, men with property) to come out and vote. They could vote and receive a slice of delectable cake. Later on, it was even a bit of a bribe to vote straight down a ticket.

Cake sustained not only the voters, but the people counting all the votes late into the night.

Vintage Election Cake For Today

We can bring the past into our present by baking our own version of an Election Cake.

What better way to celebrate or soothe your disappointment than with cake? 

If you'd like to try a modern-day version of Election Cake, here is a recipe. It has a yeast mixture that harkens back to our historical Election Cakes.

Election Cake Revival

Voting is a remarkable aspect of our heritage in the United States. With the passing of the decades, people have tended to become blasé about this privilege. Others hold the stance that you can't complain about elected officials if you didn't vote. 

How fun to honor our history of voting with a present-day revival of Election Day Cakes. We could be creative and celebrate with any cake of our choice.

Here's a bundt cake from Martha Stewart that makes a great Election Day Cake. No yeast mixture is needed. This Kentucky Bourbon Brown Butter Cake would hit the spot, whatever the voting outcome.

Baking Cake With TRT®

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can use TRT® hands-on when they are baking, with the ingredients before mixing and with themselves prior to starting a recipe. 

It's also fun for students of The Second Degree of TRT® to direct energy to our history as we learn more about the past – where we've been and how that connects to where we are going. It's your own discovery process.

Celebrate your right, and privilege, to vote.

Cake brings all of us together on this wonderful day of our democratic process. Go forth and bake your cake.

See you on Election Day.