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Dreams of Bread

Bread inspiration comes from many places. I used to dream of bread, squishing dough between my fingers or tossing it into the air and catching it, feeling its weight and texture before tossing it up again, light as air.

It was common in these dreams for loaves to be rising in the background while other things were happening, looking out at the ocean, having an argument with someone, or having a kiss. A kiss from a “loaver.”

Often, loaves are coming out of the oven. Dark brown loaves lit dimly in the firelight, a dusting of flour, the heat on my face, the heady aroma of bread.

Was it a dream?

I recall an incident that is so vivid I can’t remember if it was a dream or if it actually happened. It’s early morning, still dark with a stark white moon in the sky. I’m tending the fire inside Mildrith, the wood-fired oven, and a deer walks by behind the shelter. It stops and looks back, and we gaze at each other over a dozen or so baskets of dough on the table between us.

“Hello,” I whisper.

Then it turns and walks carefully away, into the darkness.

Kneading anxiety

Sometimes, my bread dreams are troubled, and there is anxiety being kneaded into the dough. I am running out of time and need to hurry. I am several kilos of flour short for a loaf of bread I’ve already started mixing. Dough that is lovely and lively one minute turns gloppy and slack the next. Or I’m making bread, but my little kids (who are now in their 30s) are lost, and I really should be looking for them.

Interestingly, trouble comes when I’m mixing dough as if I’m unsure about something, fearful of getting lost or overwhelmed. But when I’m pulling baked loaves out of the oven, those are beautiful moments, a sense of completion, an understanding of having created something beautiful.

Rarely do I dream of eating bread, though I remember one where I was slicing into a large white miche. The table was laden with food, bowls of oranges and tomatoes, lemons and radishes, hummus and pâté and pesto sauce, bottles of wine and jugs of water.

There were people in the room, but I didn’t know them. I don’t remember eating, but I had the expectation that I would soon, starting with the bread. I woke before the feast began. Com panis. With bread. Company.

Bread dreams

Dreaming of bread means many things, I’m told, depending on what you’re doing. Eating bread can mean achieving something, the nourishment of the spirit, attaining knowledge or material wealth.

Lexie Smith, @bread_on_earth

Cutting bread means the singling out of blessings, recognizing progress in life’s “journey,” not the destination.

There’s a woman on Instagram — Lexie Smith1 is her full name — who taps into the darker side of bread, I think, weird kinds of bread you might see in dreams. Braided and serpent-like ropes of dough, bread baked in strange shapes, colours, patterns, twisted around sticks, tied into knots.

Take a look at her Instagram account: @bread_on_earth … or at her recipe and instructions for the bread video mentioned below

“It’s strength is not a threat”

She’s beautiful to look at, like a fashion model. She photographs herself in odd positions with loaves and dough that suggest a different way of relating to bread than we may typically think. Bread as a “cultural, political, and economic thermometer,” she says.

There is a video of her mixing dough, and she narrates her instructions. Here are some lines:

“You can tell yourself it’s cathartic, even if the act [ of mixing ] feels plain and fundamentally uncomfortable.”

“You’ll already feel the dough pulling away from you, so young. Its strength is not a threat.”

“Fold the mass over and over on itself, pulling the edges up (are your hands wet?) and folding on top towards the center, like a blanket done with its season.”

“Stop [ kneading ] when all feels trite, turning the dough over in the bowl, the top as smooth as can be, the seams obscured on bottom.”

There’s more going on than what we think

All of this suggests an unconscious level in her relationship with bread and bread experience. It’s all of our experience, so multi-faceted that it’s almost overwhelming. We’re not just talking about the joy of baking, the bounty of bread and companionship.

It’s that, of course. But it’s also the fact that mixing dough might be “uncomfortable.” That the dough might be threatening in some way. That kneading can ultimately be harmless, “trite.”

These thoughts are not strange to me, and I sense they come from dreams, these dreams that tell us more of what’s going on than we think.


Happy Monk Tidings - June 29, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rustic Peasant Bread; Blog: A Pinch of Salt, A Pinch of Life [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 29, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rustic Peasant Bread; Blog: A Pinch of Salt, A Pinch of Life [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 22, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: Henry Miller and the Staff of Life — [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 22, 2022 🍞 - Bakers Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; BLOG: Henry Miller and the Staff of Life — [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 15, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough Bread; Blog: Breakfast on Bloomsday https://mailchi.mp/4c924688ed54/happy_monk_tidings_june15

Happy Monk Tidings - June 15, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough Bread; Blog: Breakfast on Bloomsday https://mailchi.mp/4c924688ed54/happy_monk_tidings_june15 ...

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Fun at 4 in the morning … first load of bread in the oven, first light, first birdsong, making the treacherous walk back inside with a tower of bannetons. In the rain.
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#bakerslife #bakersofinstagram #baking #baker #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #bread #sourdoughbread #sourdough #bbga #realbread #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #artisanbreadbaker #rusticbread #breadhead #breadlove #breadhour #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries

Fun at 4 in the morning … first load of bread in the oven, first light, first birdsong, making the treacherous walk back inside with a tower of bannetons. In the rain.
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#bakerslife #bakersofinstagram #baking #baker #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #bread #sourdoughbread #sourdough #bbga #realbread #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #artisanbreadbaker #rusticbread #breadhead #breadlove #breadhour #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries
...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 1, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Fig and Fennel Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: The Golden City [ LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 1, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Fig and Fennel Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: The Golden City [ LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Post to The Happy Monk Baking Company
Happy Monk Tidings - May 25, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Sprouted Kamut Bread; Blog: A Paean to Rye Bread: Deeply Felt and Honest [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Post to The Happy Monk Baking Company
Happy Monk Tidings - May 25, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Sprouted Kamut Bread; Blog: A Paean to Rye Bread: Deeply Felt and Honest [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 6, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Whole-Wheat Flax Bread; Blog: The Baker's Arms [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 30, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Oat Porridge Bread; Blog: Thanne Longen Folk ...; We're Donating to Ukraine! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 16, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Sourdough; Blog: Wheat Connections to Ukraine [ See LinkTree in Bio ]

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These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries

These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries
...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 9, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Anadama Bread; Blog: Salvador Dali and the Art of Bread - [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Have Your Been Shriven? [ See Link in Profile ]

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  1. Lexie’s art is featured on her Instagram page and has gotten notice in the New York Times and an article in Vanity Fair one year ago

2 thoughts on “Dreams of Bread

  1. Thanks for the introduction to another inspired baker – the Vanity Fair link tells her story of inspiration and dedication. Some of those free starter-mailings will turn into more gifts of starter, and those in turn will proliferate in a world that has almost forgotten how to bake bread. A worthy endeavor on all levels.

    1. I agree, Mr. Leathersmithe. Plus, I admire her poetic approach to the baking craft in both the shape of her loaves and the shape of her words. This is something fairly new, as her “art” is meant to be physically consumed and has no material presence, like a painting or a song.

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