What Learning to Make Bread from Scratch Taught Me

I’ve always been a fan of learning to make something from scratch.  Even if it’s just once in my life, it helps me understand the process of how something works.  Sometimes, the effort is worth every second of the process, however, other times you learn that it’s actually more pleasant to purchase the end product from a grocery store.  However, whether it is worth your time or not, it teaches you to appreciate food and especially value the time and effort it took to prepare something.

When I was young, I had always taken for granted my mother’s cooking.  I would come home from school and complain that my mother’s cooking wasn’t in line with what was found at fast food joints.  I complained that it was too simple, or the flavor was too bland.  But now, having lived alone for many years with years of experience purchasing, preparing, and then packing food, I’ve come to appreciate the lengthy time, thought, and energy that went into each meal.

When I took up the task of baking my own bread, I learned a lot about myself, and also that I would rather purchase bread from a grocery store.  However, before I came to that conclusion, I wanted to try it myself.  I did find that having the liberty of customizing my own bread was very enticing.  Having been more of a health nut over the years, being able to cook my own meals and preparing my own food means that I know how much salt is in my food.

Here is what I learned from making my own bread from scratch:

Patience and Perseverance: Bread-making is a process that requires time and patience.  From proofing the yeast to allowing the dough to rise, each step demands a certain amount of waiting.  Learning to be patient throughout the process and persevering even when faced with challenges, such as dough that doesn’t rise as expected, teaches the importance of persistence and the rewards it can bring.  For example, the first time I tried, my dough was very watery so I had to start over, which set me back some time.

Precision and Attention to Detail: Bread-making is a precise craft that requires careful measurement of ingredients and following instructions closely.  Learning to pay attention to details, such as the temperature of water or the exact timing for kneading, helps develop a sense of precision and an appreciation for the impact that small adjustments can have on the final product.  I have always believed that small decisions every day would impact my overall character, and this confirms that sometimes the small things do matter, and taking the time to be detail-oriented pays off.

Embracing the Imperfections: Bread-making is an art that embraces imperfections.  No two loaves will turn out exactly the same, and that’s part of the charm.  Learning to accept and appreciate the uniqueness of each bread you make, whether it’s the shape, the texture, or the crust, teaches a valuable lesson in embracing imperfection and finding beauty in the variations.  My final product looks much better than I had anticipated; however, it didn’t mean there wasn’t a huge mess with the first batch of dough I had tossed out.  There were many hurdles throughout the process, such as my yeast expiring and having to purchase more early on.

Mindfulness and Relaxation: The process of bread-making can be meditative and calming.  From the tactile experience of kneading the dough to the aroma that fills the kitchen as it bakes, bread-making encourages mindfulness and being fully present in the moment.  It provides an opportunity to disconnect from the distractions of daily life and find relaxation in the simple act of creating something nourishing.  During the process I forgot about answering my text messages or checking up on social media accounts, but instead I was fully in tune with the process and that made all the difference in disconnecting from a busy world.