I love the idea of homemade gifts but really I don’t know how to make many things well. I tried to make a bookcase for my wife and with the uneven routed edges and sloppy sealant it basically looks like the things I made in shop class in eighth grade. I’ve tried other homemade gifts but have usually gone in over my head and showcased a skill I didn’t really have (my sister received the one and only thing I ever knit: a cabled scarf about six feet long). But there is something I can make well with my hands: bread. It’s a simple thing, which is why it’s so difficult. Last week I baked this as a gift for a neighbor.
To many people it’s just a loaf of wheat bread. But to me it’s the end product of a system of steps that I had to learn by process of trial and lots of error: the sharpness of the razor used to slash the top, the angle and depth of the cut, the proofing time, the pre-soak ferment to increase flavor, the final proof in a banneton to allow just the right amount of air circulation to thicken the crust, the organic flour blend, the recipe that’s been tweaked and adjusted for the best flavor.
When I give bread as a gift, I consider the time it took, the care and attention, and I can’t really put a price on it, but I know that bread has, at most, a market value of a few bucks. They say that it’s the thought that counts, and I love giving and receiving homemade presents. I can only hope that people see that bread is more than flour and water, it’s love.