Bread & Wood

Bread & Wood

Handcrafted Artisan Bread & Hardwood

For the Love of Bread

A year and a half ago I attended the San Francisco Baking Institute for a week-long class on advanced artisan baking.  It was probably the most beneficial thing I have done for my baking skills, as I (an amatuer home-baker JUST beginning to understand sourdough) was surrounded by professional bakers who had been in the business for years.  I think I learned just as much from the people around me as I did from the instructor of the class.  I so valued that time with all of them.  They probably don't even know how much they taught me that week. 


Anyway, I remember very distinctly one baker who was especially helpful.  He said something that has stuck with me ever since: bakers make bread because they love it, not because they make money doing it.  He told me that any baker who wants to bake bread for a living bakes the bread for the love and then bakes other less time-consuming things  to make money.  I didn't quite understand at the time, but as I delve into this fascinating world of wild yeast and baking, I understand more and more what he meant.  I've been doing this baking for over a year now, and it's finally starting to pick up a bit, and yet it still seems that I barely stay afloat monetarily.  I am learning, however, that my business's success is not defined by the finances, for if it was, it would be a complete failure.  So maybe the world would look at the business and say "unsuccessful," but I have seen the fruits of my labor in so many other ways, including some beautiful friendships that I would not have otherwise had.  I've had customers give me free deer meat, Amish popcorn, snacks and goodies, ideas, and so many other things.  I barter with one customer for fresh, home-roasted coffee.  Our neighbor takes us out to dinner about once a month in exchange for weekly bread.  I have conversations with customers that enlighten me (and I hope in some way I enlighten them as well).  I see generosity and love every week.  I see how God uses such a basic food to bring people together, to draw in a community.  Jeffrey Hamelman said, "Bakers are very very lucky people.  We happen to have chosen a profession that enables us to bring both pleasure and nourishment to our community..." He didn't say he chose a profession that makes millions, but instead that his profession affects the world around him in a beautiful way.  How awesome. 


There are days I get down--a bake doesn't turn out (with wild yeast, it happens frequently), I wonder if I am wasting my time, I take a look at my accounting books and ask "what in the world am I doing?"--and I think about moving on to other things.  But then something small will happen to remind me why I started all this in the first place, like words or notes of encouragement from friends and customers, or a great conversation that leaves me pondering, and it's always enough to push me forward.  For the love of bread.  For the love of the Lord.  For the love of the community and the customers.  And for the love of the inticing aromas and tastes that enter my senses every week.  :)  I'll keep pressing on. 



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