willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Life ~ Balance ~ Bread

We held our first workshop this past weekend and the topic was baking bread in your own home. While I love cooking and consider myself pretty adventurous with it, I have never baked my own bread besides quick breads like banana, zucchini, pumpkin and the likes. The whole patience thing with letting it rise, maybe even twice, from what I read, and the time that it takes to do so… never struck a chord. I do LOVE a homemade loaf of bread though, so when my sons’ guitar teacher told us that he bakes bread and we could buy it from him, we were sold and have been hooked ever since. One of our goals for this year here in the barn, is to bring to you workshops on topics that you would like to learn more about, more how to’s, more sharing of how we do some of the projects that we tackle here at Life’s Patina.


Thus we invited Jared Alvare from Alvare Artisanal Breads and the boys’ guitar teacher to give our first workshop here in the barn. We were thrilled to fill our sessions and greeted Sunday morning with our pupils in the lower part of the barn. Some already had experience with baking their own bread, some had not. All had enthusiasm and were wonderful to share a Sunday with. We thank you for that and for giving us a “first time try”!

IMG_7652Parts of the workshop consisted of listening…

IMG_7675-1much of it was hands on…

IMG_7702-1and we loved sharing in on everyones wonderful personalities!


I think there was some doubt at times that what they were mixing, kneading, pulling and shaping would turn into the beautiful loaves that were presented on the table.

IMG_7802-1They persisted….

IMG_7687-1some gave pointers to each other and listened to Jared’s tutelage

IMG_7817-1 and underneath that flour towel, all brought home a fresh ball of dough to make into bread the next day.


They also shaped, cut and prepared a loaf of their own


which turned out beautifully! Hope they enjoyed them today, maybe toasted with some butter…yum!


The bread they baked was sourdough or a country white, which needs a “starter”to make. Jared talked about starters and each of the participants took their own home so as to continue on with the process. What dawned on me was the correlation between life and “the starter” and the bread making process that Jared speaks so highly of. Being uneducated in the bread making process, I had no idea that you had to “feed” a starter twice a day, everyday for as long as you want to use it to pinch a piece off and make a new loaf. From that one clump (sorry Jared for I am sure there is a correct term), if fed correctly and cared for in the proper conditions, comes loaf upon loaf upon loaf. Seven years worth of loaves from his initial starter, in Jared’s case! He talked about how to know when to feed it… if for instance it looks depressed. I did not know the ingredients to a loaf of bread could look depressed, evidently it can and does.  Much of bread baking correlates with life when looked at it in that way. For fresh dough, you need to handle it with care, watch for signs of it being at the right phase to bake, be patient, treat it as a living thing, for yeast has active cultures in it which respond to may conditions, just as we do.


Jared refers to this phrase when baking bread, ” Life, Balance, Bread.”  I really had no idea what he meant by this until listening in on his workshop. There are many aspects of the process that mimics life. The above mentioned paragraph, for one and the concept that struck me the most was the following. If the bread you are baking, after the time you put into it, does not come out the way you want it too, does not rise, is a little miss-shapen…it is not a failure, you are not a failure. Do not get upset, start over and make another one! So simple yet so true! Bread baking from scratch, involves a slowing down, a little planning, a little TLC, some effort…


(now those are winter work hands!)


but the results are SO worth it!


A huge thank you to Jared for imparting his passion for bread baking and fresh food on us as well as imparting some “food for thought” to us all on a Sunday. A huge thank you as well, to all of our attendees who spent a chunk of time with us on Sunday learning a new process and sharing in on a new experience for us. We have grown in that and will take to heart what we want to take from this workshop to bring to our future ones.

Life is all about expanding one’s boundaries and experiences!


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