Bread baking is in my DNA. My mom was known for her breads and buns back in her nursing school days. She still makes home made bread for us. Her buns are the best. I like them with butter and summer sausage. My boys have been spoiled on her cinnamon bread…mm…

Grandma helping Charlie make bread.

Grandma helping Charlie make bread.


Zach and Eric making cinnamon bread with Grandma, a few years ago.

The Biker Chef got me started on sourdough bread, and I’ve been baking it once a week ever since. To make a basic sourdough starter, combine one package active dry yeast, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of flour, and about 3 Tablespoons of honey for sweetener. Keep feeding it every few days with flour and water, more often if you keep it on the counter, less if it’s stored in the fridge. I add a splash of real Maple syrup now and then. When you’re ready to bake bread, you use one cup of the starter with your recipe. In my recipe it calls for five cups of flour, but I substitute one cup of oatmeal and add a Tablespoon of molasses. It is the best bread I’ve ever eaten!

You know your dough is ready when it has risen and hanging over the edge of the bowl!

You know your dough is ready when it has risen and hanging over the edge of the bowl!

One day, I had the dough rising on the counter during piano lessons. It was time to punch it down and form the loaves, and I thought a couple of sisters might be interested in helping me as a warm up to their lesson. Their mom took the pictures and we dug our strong piano fingers into the dough.

I started humming "Patta cake, patta cake."

I started humming “Patta cake, patta cake.”

Peyton said, “I didn’t know piano lessons could be so fun!” We talked about the dough and how to work it and found a rhythm as we lifted, folded, and pressed in with the heels of our hands.

It's all in the hands.

It’s all in the hands and our technique.

Of course, home made bread is better for you and better tasting. Plus, the act of baking bread is therapy. As you prepare the dough, you get your hands into the process, sometimes working out frustrations, always pressing through the thoughts of your day. You need patience as it rises, and time to let it sit, then rework it. I’ve written about this before because it is like any creative work. As writers, we know that we have to keep working at something to make it just right. The girls, too, know that being a good piano player means you have to keep working at it, keep pushing yourself to do better and be stronger, and the results will be worth sharing with the world.


Put it in the oven for sister and me!

I shared one of their small loaves with my sister and saved the larger loaf for me and my boys. I tucked one in the freezer for the girls to take home next week after their piano lesson. And, the bonus – my house has that homey aroma of fresh-baked bread to go along with the lovely strains of piano music.

Chef’s tip for bread: Put a pan of water in the oven while baking the bread and it will form a crispy outer shell.
Mary’s tip: Rhythm, technique, patience and practice equal success!