Yes, I am a chocolate lover, a coffee aficionado, and a devoted dessert lover. All of which, except for the coffee part, were an early part of my life. You see, I can still remember the first time I became a part of bread making in our household. You would think that it was my mother who started this whole tradition. But no, it was my father.
At an early age in his life he was involved in making bread in his household. And so, he brought the tradition of bread making into ours. One morning, my father knocked on my bedroom door and said “Barbara, get out here. Today we are going to make bread together.” Now I know it had nothing to do with the fact that I had given my mother a hard time all week or that for the seventh time in as many days, I had been the recipient of several time-outs, stern talking to’s, or additional chores. Nor was it the fact that I talked back to my mother or beat up my little brother. You see, I was a tom boy and my daddy’s girl. My father, being the wise man that he was, acknowledged his head strong, stubborn, and determined daughter needed an outlet for her energy, and maybe more than that, time with him. And so the bread making began.
We gathered our supplies and started mixing our ingredients. First, we warmed the yeast, and then we mixed the flour, salt, and other dry ingredients. Next came the eggs, the Crisco and other elements to pull the bread together. We mixed, we kneaded and we watched the bread rise. And then we kneaded the bread and watched it rise again. I could hardly wait to put it into the loaf pans. And then it was time, to knead the bread one last time and put it into the loaf pans. Loads of bread and more dough left over for my absolute most favorite thing in the whole world. Homemade cinnamon rolls. Now that we had the dough in bread pans, we could concentrate on the most important part of bread-making. At least, that is the way it worked in my mind.
As we stood side-by-side, me on a stool and my dad beside me, we mixed the brown sugar, the cinnamon and the butter. I rolled out my first cinnamon roll dough, sprinkled the sugar mixture over it, rolled it up, cut it into pieces and placed them in a pan. At the same time, I calculated how I could call debs on most of the cinnamon rolls. I had two brothers and I knew they were going to make the most of their first serving – taking as much as 2/3 of the pan. I guarded the oven while setting out butter, jam and plates for the bread and cinnamon rolls, watching the bread baking through the oven window, hoping my constant vigilance would speed up the baking process. I was determined to have a better advantage than my brothers and thus was rewarded by my hard work as my father stood beside me while I had first serving of cinnamon rolls.
It was a significant event in my life, one that changed my outlook on food, my family, and my father. It was no ordinary bread. Neighbors came by to pick some up, leaving their money with my mother. People came over to share a warm slice of bread with butter and jam. It was a relationship builder, gathering our friends and family to us. To this day, when I prepare breads or other baked goods, I remember those times I spent with my father, sifting, mixing and pulling together elements that brought people together and into our lives. My father is no longer around, but his legacy lives on in my life. The traditions he built around bread I have because of him.