Becca told me the other day that cheese breads were my jam. Sesame Cheddar, Basil Havarti, and now Pesto Parmesan. She said I should specialize in cheese breads. Which is interesting because I once dreamed of opening a local fromagerie. That’s right, I dream of cheese – and sometimes honey – but mostly cheese.
The Huffington Post recently published an article titled “Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People.” An excerpt…
Baking for yourself and for others is a form of mindfulness.
We’ve all heard of the benefits of meditation and mindfulness ― increasing happiness and reducing stress, to name a couple ― and baking can reap some of those same rewards. “Baking actually requires a lot of full attention. You have to measure, focus physically on rolling out dough. If you’re focusing on smell and taste, on being present with what you’re creating, that act of mindfulness in that present moment can also have a result in stress reduction,” explains Pincus.
“Baking is thinking step-by-step and following the specifics of the here and now, but it’s also thinking about recipes as a whole, the dish as a whole, what are going to do with it, who it’s going to, what time are you sharing it, so baking is a really good way of developing that balance of the moment and the bigger picture,” says Ohana.
And not only is mindfulness a good skill to master, but it can also help ease the presence of sad thoughts. John Whaite, the baker who won “The Great British Bake Off” in 2012, has publicly said that baking has been a help for him dealing with his manic depression.
Pincus said that when that being mindful ― such as when you bake ― it can mean “you’re not spending time ruminating over your thoughts, we know that rumination leads to depression and sad thoughts, if you’re doing something productive. And the nice thing about baking is that you have such a tangible reward at the end and that can feel very beneficial to others.”
Pretty cool. But I kind of already knew all that. That’s why I love to bake!
Pesto Parmesan Bread
- 2 scant tablespoons (or 2 ¼-ounce packages) active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water about 110 F
- 1¼ cups warm milk about 110 F
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 tablespoons pesto depends on how much pesto flavor you want
- 1½ cups Parmesan cheese shredded
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 5 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water for the egg wash
In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Add milk, honey, egg, salt, pesto, cheese, semolina flour, and 2 cups flour. Beat vigorously for two minutes.
Gradually add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and shape. Place onto a well-greased baking sheet or into well-greased baking pans. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Just before baking, brush each loaf with the egg wash and cut slits ¼-inch deep into the top. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of Parmesan - looks great and tastes yummy.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the loaves reaches 190 degrees.
Immediately remove bread from baking sheet and cool on a rack.