by Kelly Fredrickson
My mom makes her own bread.
Every Sunday, she makes four loaves.
Our house has always smelled like bread when it just comes out of the oven. To me, it’s the smell of comfort and calm. It’s the smell of home. For as long as I can remember, our house has always smelled like this, like, LOVE. Warm bread coming out of the oven, and then collapsing under the weight of the knife as you tear off the first piece.
Golden, misshapen, imperfect, and smeared with butter. There is no taste in this world better than my mom’s bread. And, when I tell you that she has been making bread for as long as I can remember, I mean it. She started when she was 28 and I was 4. Her mom gave her a cookbook and she was intrigued with the step-by-step photo instructions in the recipe for white bread. Over the years, she has added this and that, turning that original and precise recipe into her own imprecise yet perfect concoction.
Rather than just write down the recipe for you, I filmed my Mom making her bread. I love everything about this video. Not only can I share her bread, I get to share my mom with you. I get to share her laugh with you. It may be her laugh that makes her bread and her love so good. Most of the time, she is laughing.
Four loaves every Sunday since she was 28. She is now 75. That is almost 10,000 loaves. That is a lot of love.
As I filmed her, I noticed that nothing is exact, nothing is actually measured. It’s all approximate, it’s close enough, it’s good enough. And I realize that this is how she raised us. Good enough was fine; perfection was never expected or demanded.
She makes four loaves of bread a week with one bowl. One bowl. She is somewhat of a minimalist, using only what she needs. Not feeling a lack of anything. One bowl works fine, so why buy two? Also, she doesn’t worry about the outcome: “How many cups did you just add?” I ask. “I have no idea,” she says and laughs. “Two more, maybe, you just add it until it’s not so wet,” because, she says, “you can’t knead a runny situation.” That right there, that is my mom—”You can’t knead a runny situation.” She has never really given me advice. She has shown me how to make bread. And, through that, how to live.
Here is my mom’s recipe for bread:
- 4 cups water—warm, not hot
- 3 packets whole wheat yeast—pour into water, let sit for 3–5 minutes
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup wheat bran flakes
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- ½ cup amaranth flour
- 1 cup soy flour
- 1 egg
- 4–5 cups of flour, mixed in 1 cup at a time (could be more or less)
Knead for 5 minutes (this is the boring part, put the timer on). Oil large bowl with 1 tablespoon canola oil, cover with cloth, and let rise for an hour.
Punch down, form into loaves. Place into greased pans (she uses Crisco), cover with cloth, and let rise for an hour. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
And, here, it turns out, is my mom’s recipe for living:
Good enough is good enough.
Be happy with what you have.
Don’t worry about the outcome.
Most of the time, be laughing.
Sometimes there is a boring part—put the timer on and get through it.
You can’t knead a runny situation—you’ll know when it’s right.
And, here she is making her bread and teaching me how to live. Enjoy, and happy Mother’s Day!
From her roots as a broadcast producer and art buyer, to her legacy as a creative marketer, Kelly Fredrickson has worked with award-winning creative leaders across a number of national agencies (Hill Holliday, Modernista!, MullenLowe), attracting the industry’s best talent and creating the conditions for great ideas to flourish for brands like Anheuser-Busch, Cadillac, Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS, Reebok, and Bank of America. Kelly advocates for great work on a daily basis and rallies teams to great solutions. Kelly recently left Bank of America to be the president of MullenLowe Boston, a global advertising agency that champions challenger brands like JetBlue, E*TRADE, Royal Caribbean, and Nuveen. She uses her CiPP training every day as a manager of 500 incredibly energetic creative people. This post was originally published on her website, myyearofwhittling.com.