Whenever I think about food and psychology, the one thing that comes to my mind is bread making. There is something wonderfully therapeutic about it – kneading the soft supple dough with your hands, manipulating it and the hours of work that finally produce the baked bread is so fulfilling. All the accumulated stress of the week just flows out of my fingertips whenever I knead bread, leaving me tired but happy.
All aspects of bread making – the yeast which makes it magically rise, shaping the dough, the smell of bread baking are all extremely satisfying. And who can remain stressed out when there is freshly baked, still warm from the oven bread to eat?
It took me two attempts to make this and it still was not perfect – more pizza than foccacia. But I didn’t really care. It was delicious, and like I said, any thoughts of stress just vanished! The recipe is from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday. Though the recipes in his book are extremely detailed and time consuming, paying attention to the small details yields a flavor like no other (I strongly recommend buying this book and using it for weekend cooking). You have to mix the dough batter and leave it overnight to rise. Once you take it out, it needs to be put aside for 2 hours before you can start working it. You knead it, let it rest, repeat the cycle 3 -4 times. You pan it, let it rest, again repeat the cycle 3-4 times. You use a fabulous topping like me – aubergine and red bell pepper (I was surprised at how good it was). You bake it! Then you take a bite while it is still warm. You chew silently, surprised at the amount of flavor bread can have and then you take another bite. You keep taking bite after bite, marveling at yourself for having made this.