When I start out on my bike ride to work each morning, I turn the corner out of my neighbourhood and the smell of grass clippings from the urban farm across the street greets my still-waking senses. I sail down a long hill currently being graded, the first morning breeze cooling my sweat, and the aroma of big machinery and tar wafts, propelling me past it in search of fresher air.
I am enveloped by heat and exhaust from the bus that I always seem to tail as I climb another hill and slow my pedaling, waiting for passengers to board and disembark before the bus roars ahead of me again.
I fly down a long, stretched-out gradient towards the Rotary, where an arm of the ocean reaches into the land, and where morning commuters, both muscle and gasoline-driven, circle and head to work and school and daycare on the main peninsula. It is here that the crispest, cleanest air laced with the smell of ocean – seaweed and salt – seems to channel directly into my thoughts, calming me and reminding me daily of the magic of my proximity to immense expanses of salt water.
I make impossibly slow progress up the steepest hill of my ride, coming up toward downtown through well-established west end neighbourhoods. I catch a floral fragrance, light before the summer heat lays heavy on the city. Then the smell of diesel fumes, not-so-unpleasant because they remind me of the year I spent riding precariously on the back of scooters, careening through side streets in Bangkok, Siem Riep, Hoi An and Luang Prabang.
Finally, the hill levels out and the cars that have been narrowly avoiding my left handlebar are stopped at a light after I’ve sailed through, a quick burst of pedaling so that I can ride a little further from the curb for a few minutes, take one hand off my bike to change the song on my iPod to something a little more 80s, and smell fresh bread being baked across the street.
There isn’t anything more gorgeous than the smell of bread baking, is there? Not the smell of the ocean or of lilacs in June.
I think bread probably smells even better, though, when it only takes 5 minutes to throw together, 45 minutes to rise, and 20-odd minutes to cook – unlike other recipes that require a few hours of your precious time! If time has been a limiting factor in your bread-making previously, I encourage you to try this recipe! Also, the fresh garden chives, garlic and herbs in this bread make it particularly aromatic, and quite awesome stacked with leftover chicken, a bit of goat cheese, and a handful of lettuce.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tbsp. yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 3 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Cornmeal for dusting the loaf pan
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the dry ingredients and heat in the microwave until warmer than lukewarm but not too hot to touch (1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir for about 1 minute. (if you have a stand mixer, now's a good time to use it as this will otherwise require some elbow grease!). The dough will be quite a bit stickier than your average bread dough.
- Grease a loaf pan and then dust with cornmeal. Pour the dough into the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise approximately 45 minutes, or until the dough just peeks over the edge of the pan.
- Toward the end of the rising, preheat your oven to 400F. Once the bread has risen, bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top of the bread is golden brown and the interior temperature is 190F.
- Note: this recipe is adapted from an english muffin bread recipe which uses white flour. If using white flour, you will find this bread has a lovely, open crumb that resembles an engilsh muffin and collects melted butter beautifully. Whole wheat flour, as it always does, makes for a denser bread that doesn't much resemble an english muffin but is beautiful nonetheless. I encourage you to use whatever flour you have on hand, or a combination thereof, and let me know how it goes!