“So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” –Frank Sinatra
The expression “from scratch” comes from the practice of scratching a line on the ground to mark the starting point of a race. So it means to start from the beginning or to make a correction. You would start from scratch to improve the quality of your work. Should we decline when someone offers a shortcut or a “turnkey solution” to a problem? Remember the bread machine craze? As disparaging as I could be about this home appliance, at least it got people baking fresh homemade bread. This is a part of Bakewell Farm’s mission–to encourage baking bread at home. The difference when baking from scratch is not necessarily the machine, but your hands.
For me, starting from scratch suggests that you also begin with your hands. Hands are the most sensitive and responsive tools for making bread. I would venture to say that the dough itself enjoys being made by hand. Physical contact with dough provides the most sensible grasp of the entire process from mixing and fermenting, to the final touch of a finger that signals the optimal time for placing loaves in the oven. To bake bread by hand, and from scratch, embodies the knowledge not just of making, but also of being. Be the
Starting from scratch challenges your relationship with time, which I like to call bread time. When you are on bread time, fermentation dictates the pace. It slows things down. When you discover the virtue of slowness, a sensible pace defines your sense of place. The tendencies found in making bread bring you in contact with the present moment. Even the bubbly culture that bakers maintain for making sourdough, in baker’s parlance, is called, “a starter.” A sourdough starter reminds me of the phrase, “Never stop starting” because it embodies the idea of continuation. The only way to perpetuate a starter (sourdough culture) is to feed it fresh flour and water on a regular basis. Like any living thing, a starter needs food and a comfortable environment to thrive.
Consider starting from scratch: be kind; offer the gift of your time; show resilience; remain open and share your thoughts; maintain a sense of humor; formulate a vision with passion; listen attentively; own it; and be moved by love and imagination.
Marc Jalbert, Founding Director, Bakewell Farm. Bakewell Farm is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to offer “bread-centric” experiences that promote healthy food choices and civic responsibility through educating, sharing, and building community in Adams County. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org