Really Slow Bread

A Boule. 

Bread in the Plan

Searching for uses for my new enamel-on-cast-iron dutch oven, I came across a bread recipe that requires about twenty hours of rising time. I was intrigued. The recipe calls for just a tiny bit of yeast. The dough isn’t kneaded; you just mix it up, cover it, and then wait.

For eighteen hours.

Then you shape it into a loaf and wait some more.

I began this recipe on a Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed the loaf for dinner on Sunday. That’s a whole lot of waiting. But you know, waiting isn’t hard when you expect to wait. I didn’t need to be thinking about the bread; I didn’t need to tend to it.

All I had to do was wait.

After I’d mixed the dough I went to the grocery store. I photographed insects. I napped. I wrote for a while. I prepared and served dinner. Rich and I watched a movie together. We slept. We rose on Sunday morning and went to church.

Meanwhile, the yeast shouldered its burden and the bread prepared itself for the fire. 

Most of those intervening hours, I didn’t think of the bread. I might lift the towel swaddling the dough for a quick peek if I happened to be in the kitchen, but for the most part, I didn’t bother with it.

Waiting on the bread meant simply doing other things while the bread made itself ready.

Sometimes life is like that. I’m waiting for something and I really, really want it. Maybe I really, really dread it. But nothing I can do will hasten the time of its occurrence. It’s beyond my control. The yeast will do what yeast will do, in the time it takes yeast to do it. Life will happen as life will happen, in the time it takes to happen.

My preferred timeline for life carries no causative impact.

But the waiting’s not so bad when I can set the desire aside, in that little “pending” corner of my heart, and get on with other things. Christmas will come this December, and I’ll need to prepare my home, prepare gifts, prepare my heart. But in February, I needn’t fret. It will come at its appointed time.

I could miss a lot of living if I sideline myself in the waiting. 

When I pulled the bread from the oven, I could see that the loaf was worth the wait. Its crust was complex and crispy, riddled with cracks. Inside the bread had the substance and texture of something wrought in an old, old oven, pulled forth by a sweating man.

This bread taught me: waiting well is a gift. 

31 Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)