Making bread good for mental health | Food and cooking

BERNIE MASON For Lee Montana Newspapers

The process of baking bread can be therapeutic and good for your mental health.

Watch what happens when you mix flour, baking powder, maybe a little sugar and salt with lukewarm water, then let sit in a warm place for a while. It takes on a life of its own, grows and becomes a globe of dough that can be shaped and baked into a delicious loaf of bread.

With the recent focus on mental health, it seems like the time is right to think about how dough work could benefit our mental health. I recently saw a review of a new cookbook, ‘Breadsong’ by Kitty and Al Tait, a daughter/dad duo from England, which tells how Kitty, a 14 year old girl, was able to grow out of her severe depression and opening his own bakery with his father, including baking bread.

Kitty’s depression was so severe that she had been unable to attend school and was often unable to get out of bed. Her parents had tried therapy and different kinds of activities to stimulate her and get her out of her depression, but without success.

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One morning she was in the kitchen with her father while he was baking bread. When she looked at the bubbly mass of dough that had been on the counter all night, she was struck by the fact that it was like her brain and she began to take an interest in the process of how this fluffy mass that had been on the counter the night before, could have become so alive.

This interest grew and she started making bread and then selling it. She’s come so far now that at twenty-two they have a thriving bakery with many loyal customers. She developed her own recipes, including artisan breads, sourdough, sweet rolls, and regular yeast breads which are all in the book. Even recipes for crackers, pastries and cookies are included.

The following recipe for “Overnight Focaccia” is taken from the book and is made using the dough from the “Miracle Overnight Loaf” that started Kitty’s entire recovery process.

Focaccia overnight

1 1/4 teaspoons fine seas

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 1/3 cup warm water

A good drizzle of olive or rapeseed oil

A handful of rosemary needles

A good pinch of flaky sea salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and baking powder. Mix everything together using a sturdy spoon or your hands. Gently stir in the lukewarm water little by little until a shaggy dough forms. Kitty and her dad call it Scooby Dough in homage to Scooby Doo. Place a damp dish towel or shower cap over the rim of the bowl and leave it in a comfortable (draught-free) place for 12-16 hours, overnight is best. Time will transform your scrappy, dull dough into a lively, bubbly creature. (This is the part that really caught Kitty’s attention and made her think about her brain.) Transfer your bubbly batter to a well-oiled piece of parchment paper lining a small rectangular roasting pan (6 x 8 inches); spread it evenly to a thickness of 2 inches and rub some olive or canola oil on its belly. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. You can cover it if you want, but the oily surface should prevent a skin from forming. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a little oil on top of the dough then, with your fingertips, gently dig into the surface. Sprinkle with rosemary needles and flaky sea salt. Bake in hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until crispy and golden. As soon as the focaccia comes out of the oven, brush it with more oil. Take the focaccia out of the mold and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve sliced ​​sideways and filled for sliced ​​sandwiches or break off sections and dip in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar. Source: “Bread Song”, Kitty and Al Tait.

wild rice bread

When I was in Wisconsin for a wedding in June, I was at a resort in the northern woods. We had breakfast at the lodge the last morning we were there and I was surprised to see wild rice French toast on the menu. I had never thought of using wild rice to make bread, so I decided to give it a try. It was delicious and made me want to make wild rice bread when I got home. I used one of my basic bread recipes and added cooked wild rice to the batter. I was very happy with the result. It makes terrific toast as well as using it for sandwiches and French toast. It’s not easy to find only wild rice in grocery stores, but it’s available if you order online. You can also use a mixture of wild rice with brown rice.

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 1/2-4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cooked wild rice (or wild rice mix)

3 tablespoons softened butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl; add the powdered milk and dissolve. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes for the yeast to start bubbling. Add honey and whole wheat flour. Add the butter, wild rice, salt and enough all-purpose flour to make a thick batter. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Using a dough hook with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, mix in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in lightly greased bowl, turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Degas and unmold onto a lightly floured board. Let stand about 5 minutes; divide into 2 pieces. Shape each section into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until done, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She served as a Yellowstone County Extension Officer for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.