What We’re Eating: Bread and More Bread


Grace Fiori

I’ve dredged up all the recipes that I’ve been meaning to make, put a ten-pound bag of flour to good use, and passed whole afternoons letting bread proof.

Grace Fiori, Chief Editor

The seemingly unanimous drive among housebound Americans to suddenly make sourdough starter and perfect a biscuit recipe has been well documented on the internet. It feels like in times of uncertainty, flour and water and salt are comforting pillars of stability. Maybe because in tumultuous times, it feels like the one thing we can control is the gluten structure developing in loaves and dinner rolls. 

Personally, baking, and more recently cooking, have always been acts that felt like meditation to me. Your mind is free to wander, while your hands are engaged in kneading and stirring and (occasionally!) burning forgotten pans in the oven. These last couple of weeks have been no exception, I’ve found cooking to be a task that I finally have time for and something that helps me process the constant flood of information. I’ve dredged up all the recipes that I’ve been meaning to make, put a ten-pound bag of flour to good use, and passed whole afternoons letting bread proof. 

I discovered these magical vegan biscuits a while back, they are the perfect solution to just about everything. That theory has not been proven wrong yet. They take less than 10 minutes to come together, and even less time to stamp out with the rim of a glass and throw on a pan. When you group them all together on the baking sheet, they rise better and become evenly golden on top. Don’t think too much when you are forming the dough: only use as much liquid as you need and mix gently and loosely so you don’t destroy the capacity these biscuits have to be fluffy and flaky. 

If you have a dutch oven (google it) you can make a loaf of french bread. As long as you have a dutch oven, you could mess up the dough of the french bread so horrendously that it looks like the surface of a human brain, and I promise you, it will come out okay. In technical terms, the dutch oven perfectly traps moisture while in the oven so you have a loaf with structure and air but also flavor and a great crust. But, now seems like the right time for a little magical thinking, so all you need to know is this pot will erase any mistakes inflicted. 

I’m a big fan of recipes that you can mess up horrendously, as in, from a place where there seems to be no return, and still produce something not just edible, but delicious. The first time I made this Japanese Milk Bread, I added the dry ingredients to the developing yeast instead of the other way around. When it wasn’t coming together well, I thought I was going to have to call it quits. I hunkered down, whipped in the pats of butter like the recipe told me, threw it in a loaf pan and then put it in the oven. And by some miracle, it came out slightly sweet and airy and good enough. 

If that isn’t enough to keep you occupied or interested, then you should risk it all with a sourdough starter. Or attempt to make rye bread. If you have a lot of olive oil to spare, make focaccia (even though this focaccia is worth all your rations of olive oil).