My name is Michaela. I am a passionate photographer, cook, mother, wife, and daughter. In addition to my career in financial services, I spend time cooking for those I love, photographing the beauty in people, places, and food as well as updating our 1890s cottage on Cape Cod. Today I’ll be sharing with you the new rhythms in our home during quarantine, including a new family tradition of baking bread together.
I write to you from our seaside town south of Boston, where we’ve been social distancing for almost a month. The sun is shining through my office windows, and I see many signs of spring: green stems poking up through the dirt, tiny buds on long branches, hyacinths, and crocuses in bloom. Nature continues on as we seem frozen in place, losing track of days and weeks.
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” -Eckhart Tolle
Since the start of the pandemic, there are moments I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Our collective wellness, both physical and mental, stemming from the virus as well as the social and economic changes, is affected in varying ways. With this continued uncertainty, I try to focus on the small moments of each day to find joy.
Finding New Rhythms
My daughter is 9, and my son is 6. At these young ages, I am beginning to feel our time is limited, with school and activities. So even with the challenges that come from working at home while homeschooling two children, I am thrilled to have this time together. It feels like a gift to slow down and not rush off to the airport or shuttle to and from a practice or rehearsal. Although there are frustrations and difficult moments, the days are more relaxed.
The quiet of the morning anchors us. Everyone is sleeping in a little later and has the luxury of coming downstairs in pajamas. There may be an art prompt set up for the kids if I had been feeling ambitious the prior evening, or maybe there are Lego blocks pulled out to create, but most certainly, there is bread baking. We preheat the oven and pull our dough out that was proofing in the fridge. My daughter makes smoothies, and I fix myself hot water with lemon and iced coffee for my husband.
Baking Bread Together
We have always baked bread in our house, but it ebbed and flowed with travel and schedules. Now it is our daily rhythm. Feeding the sourdough starter. Mixing a poolish. Shaping the dough into rounds. Slashing the top. (Searching the internet for more flour.) The process is grounding and rewarding, from the most basic no-knead loaf the kids can tackle with some independence, to a naturally leavened baguette.
Nature is calming for children and adults alike, so each day we are taking walks along the beach and hikes in the woods, discovering local plants and creatures we may have never noticed before. We are reading more books and trying new crafts. I see my kids developing in other ways, which I hope will serve them well into the future. I have a growing desire to see my extended family and friends in person and visit my favorite local spots. When spring gives way to summer, I look to return those things now absent from my life while cherishing all the new joys I have found.
The Jim Lahey bread method is extremely popular for a reason-very little effort produces an impressive loaf. It is a low-key enough process and recipe that kids can easily do the measuring, stirring, and shaping. I hope you and your family can find joy in a new rhythm of baking bread together.
Optional Adjustments & Things to Note for Your No-Knead Loaf
- I like to replace ⅓ of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat or rye flour. If you do the same, increase the water to 1 ⅓ cups.
- The temperature in your kitchen can affect how quickly the dough rises in the bulk rise (overnight) and while it’s proofing. The times below are given for a room at about 70 degrees, so if your space is cooler, it may take longer-just be patient.
- If you do not have parchment paper, just make sure the bottom of the dough is well-floured before putting it into the Dutch oven.
- No Dutch oven? Put the dough directly onto a cookie sheet to proof and bake. (In place of a Dutch oven, I sometimes bake bread on our pizza steel.)
- A broiler pan can be filled with 8 ounces of boiling water to mimic the steam oven effect. Place the broiler pan on the bottom of the oven while preheating. After the bread is placed in the oven, pour the boiled water into the broiler pan and shut the door. Take care in pouring the boiling water as it quickly creates steam and can splash onto the oven door.
- There are lots of things to do with leftover bread, but our favorite is to cut the bread into cubes and place under a roasting chicken to catch the juices.
Michaela is a passionate photographer, cook, mother, wife, and daughter. In addition to her career in financial services, she spends time cooking for those she loves photographing the beauty in people, places, and food as well as updating her 1890s cottage on Cape Cod.
Looking for something to top your toast with (besides just slathering it in butter and flaky salt)? Get Camilla Drost’s recipe for Fancy Toast with Spring Greens, Lumpfish Roe, & Burrata!