Twenty years ago I promised myself I would always make my own bread. My first bread book was bought on a whim from Il Fornaio, a restaurant close to my college campus. This book taught the Italian way of making bread - and had many steps with exact directions. I loved everything about the experience, maybe except when I would mess up and the bread came out like a door stop. Life got in the way, while I was baking bread - had to get to class, or didn't have enough time, or was lazy, or looked at the dough rising the wrong way - really it could be anything. As my life became busier (graduate school, kids, career, life..), forget it, I just didn't have the time or energy to make bread.
Then I learned about Jim Lahey's "no knead" recipe that uses time instead of kneading to let the dough rise. I started experimenting. I would go to parties, and bring two types of bread (traditional and "no knead"), and most people couldn't tell the difference. I felt a bit defeated, as I thought the amount of work I put into something equaled the output. Turns out this is not the case.
So, as any engineer would do, I started looking at the "no knead" recipe, and seeing ways to optimize it. If I was going to slack off making bread, then I would optimize that slack off. While working a forty hour job, as a mother of two, with a long commute, I made bread every day. I would try to see how much mixing was needed, could you just shake the ingredients together, how long do you really need to let the dough rise, do you really need to shape the dough, how hot can the oven get, how cold? You name it, I've tried it.
And as I was balancing all of these things in life, my father passed away. To make things a bit more interesting, I got laid off a few months later. As my life continued to change in many different ways, I found that my obsession with making bread easy just got stronger. I would often repeat, "go back to the bread", when life got tough. Tomorrow bread is the answer to taking your life back in the most basic of ways - through bread. Or at least it was for me. The recipe has been tested countless times, by countless people. Each time I am at the farmers market, someone will return with a blank stare on their face, a sense of wonder, and say, "wow, that was so good". Some have baked all their lives, and for others, this is their first time making bread. Some are satisfied, others want to see if they can make it even better - add extra ingredients, try different rise methods, experiment just as I had. It's pretty cool.
Tomorrow Bread is also a conversation with my father. I think of him all the time, and as time passes, I have been better able to reflect on his affect on my life. Baking is where I remember him the most, helping me to measure out ingredients and bake the "correct and exact" way. Part of me wants to say to him now, that things can be easier, and still taste good. Again, the amount of effort you put into something does not equal the output. Tomorrow Bread is essentially that.
I hope that you will find the process of making bread gives you what you need in life, and it both frees you up to do other things while still being able to enjoy fresh, homemade bread. Please feel free to email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Besides being called Dr. (never), her education provided a thought process toward solving problems. That and her love of bread made Tomorrow Bread possible. She is interested in empowering people, helping them to find what makes them happy, supporting a healthier lifestyle and one that takes pride in the simplicity of bread.