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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 - September 22, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Harvest Bread; Blog: Sourdough September and the Real Bread Campaign [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - September 22, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Harvest Bread; Blog: Sourdough September and the Real Bread Campaign [ See link in profile ] ...

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A horizontal world, an endless beach with long rollers, sandwiched beneath a low sky ceiling … and hundreds of surfers. Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino.

A horizontal world, an endless beach with long rollers, sandwiched beneath a low sky ceiling … and hundreds of surfers. Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino. ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - September 1, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; Blog: We're all rich when you think about it; South Pender Growers and Makers and Heritage Market; The Happy Monk Holidays - [ Link in profile ]

Post to The Happy Monk Baking Company
Happy Monk Tidings - September 1, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sprouted Rye and Seed Bread; Blog: We're all rich when you think about it; South Pender Growers and Makers and Heritage Market; The Happy Monk Holidays - [ Link in profile ]
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Lo! The mighty Seed Feast! Favoured by Happy Monk customers the Pender Islands over! These loaves, just rolled out of Mildrith, are hot and fragrant with seeds, nuttiness and bready wholesome-ness. O for a steamy slice and a schmear of butter! That I may eat “and leave the world unseen, and with thee fade away into the forest dim.” (Apologies to the ghost of John Keats).
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#seedfeastbread #seedbread #seedybread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #woodfiredbread #coboven #earth.oven #bread #breadlove #baker #bbga #happymonkbaker #happymonkbaking #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #breadpoetry #rusticbread #penderisland #southpenderisland

Lo! The mighty Seed Feast! Favoured by Happy Monk customers the Pender Islands over! These loaves, just rolled out of Mildrith, are hot and fragrant with seeds, nuttiness and bready wholesome-ness. O for a steamy slice and a schmear of butter! That I may eat “and leave the world unseen, and with thee fade away into the forest dim.” (Apologies to the ghost of John Keats).
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#seedfeastbread #seedbread #seedybread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #woodfiredbread #coboven #earth.oven #bread #breadlove #baker #bbga #happymonkbaker #happymonkbaking #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #breadpoetry #rusticbread #penderisland #southpenderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - August 4, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Volkornbrot (German Rye) with Sunflower Seeds; also Seed Feast; Blog: Why Eat Ancient and Heritage Grains?; Goin' Fishin' Soon! [ See Linktree in Profile ] ...

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Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m. 
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 #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 21, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Bird Seed Bread; Blog: Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy [ See link in profile ]

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In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 14, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye and Spelt Sourdough; Blog: Pleasure and Worry in the Summer Heat; Gratitude for Pender Island Fire Rescue; Happy Monk Search-Ability [ See link in profile ] ...

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Cinnamon-Raisin loaves, they get it on! Can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re a little too close in the oven. Monkey business!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #cinnamonraisin #cinnamonraisinbread #cinnamonraisinsourdough #breadsex #breadporn #showusyourfuckedloaves #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakery #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #bakersandspice #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

Cinnamon-Raisin loaves, they get it on! Can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re a little too close in the oven. Monkey business!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #cinnamonraisin #cinnamonraisinbread #cinnamonraisinsourdough #breadsex #breadporn #showusyourfuckedloaves #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakery #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #bakersandspice #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 9, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Chasing the Perfect Loaf - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 9, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Chasing the Perfect Loaf - [ 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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