One of the reasons I love Lammas is that it’s a baking holiday like Yule and it makes me feel connected to the long line of bakers I descend from. It makes me wonder how far back does the baking go? Is it like one of those ever reflecting mirrors where you see the same image repeated into seeming infinity?
Because my background is fairly homogenous almost a 100% Scottish and Swedish with one of the clans emigrating with William the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066, I can imagine a long line of people who baked loafs for Loafmas and earlier for Lughnassad. It makes me feel as if I have a strong foundation to stand on.
What was it like to bake bread in a brick or clay oven? I’ve baked bread in a dutch oven in a campfire? Did they? How did they learn how to regulate the temperature? What did they do if the yeast died? For yeast is a living being and can die. Did they grind their own wheat or oats or rye to make their bread or did they pay the miller in town? Did they grow their own? Did they let their neighbors use their ovens when they were done to cook their meals? Did they share what they had with people who did not have enough? I was raised to bake for others and share and I can’t imagine that is a new thing? Food should be shared like love.
And knowing that many of the male bakers were Master Masons, did they use magic in the baking like I do? Baking is a lot like alchemy. It’s alchemy of food. Taking diverse ingredients like wheat and milk and lard or other shortening and adding minerals like spirits of ammonia (the precursor to baking powder) and calcium carbonate and the living yeast, how did they learn to combine them to make something wholesome to eat?
Who was the first to smell the magical smell of baking bread? Who decided fresh churned butter and preserved fruits would taste so good together?
Who offered their first loaves to the Lady after the wheat harvest? Did they wonder about the future? Did they keep their recipes secret or did they share them if asked? Did they wonder who would bake after them?
Last night I baked my loaf. My first in years as I tasted it after it cooled I wondered about those other bakers.