14 January 2013

Friends in Knead

Recently, my cousin asked if I would make her a loaf of my famous Four Seed Bread. I say famous, but that’s only to a select few who still remember it, and it’s not really “my” bread either, I got the recipe at a bread-baking workshop at the Recipe Box in Arcadia, about 25 years ago. I did have to adapt it a bit, because the workshop was all about selling a giant mixer to make your bread and I do mine all by hand, but the recipe comes from the proprietor of that store, whose name I have long forgotten.

Not forgotten is the period in my life when my friend Matthew and I had a bread-baking business. We had started baking just for ourselves, but every time we brought our homemade bread to work with us and ate it in the lunch room, someone asked if we would bake an extra loaf for him or her next time, so we finally started baking and selling about six different kinds of bread. At its peak, Friends in Knead was doing a booming business (for two people in tiny kitchens): We both baked about 30 loaves every Sunday, and then sold them Monday and Tuesday at work, at our writing group, at the gym, at yoga class—any place we could get away with bringing in a basket of loaves.

When we were doing all this volume, we used to buy all our ingredients in bulk, many of them mail order, and I haven’t made this bread in a long time because I haven’t been able to find the ingredients. Mrs. Gooch’s used to sell all the seeds from bins, but once it became Whole Foods, some of the stuff went to pre-packaged, and when you’re not using them up every week, seeds tend to go rancid and get thrown away. But I recently discovered that Sprouts still has bins, so I went there this week for small quantities, and baked for Kirsten yesterday. And since you can’t bake only one loaf at a time (well, you could, but why?), I also made some for me, and some for my neighbors, Nicole and Phil, who kindly haul my trash cans out to the curb every single week.

Keep your bread dough moist while it rises by
covering the bowl with a dish towel you have
wet thoroughly and wrung out.
Baking the bread made me think of Matthew—of how much fun we had coming up with the name (another contender was “Bread and Ethel”), of deciding every week who was baking what, of just having him as a friend. He’s been gone since 1991, and I still miss him all the time—he was a big influence on me, on my willingness to do new things and take chances. Without him, I would have had a much smaller life. So--I raise a slice to you, Matthew. (Although I know you would have preferred a margarita.)

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