The art of baking your bread

View of the Church of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole by Vincent van Gogh

View of the Church of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole by Vincent van Gogh

The art of baking a bread starts with knowing the flour. When you smell it, are you transported to wheat fields, to summer and soil? Can you feel the sun when the farmer decides it is time for the harvest? The best of the flours are those that are white, but if you look closely it carry the colors of summer, the yellow of fields, the green of the trees, and the blue of a wide-open sky.

And when you run it through your fingers, do you notice the traces of grindstone, the way it revolved a day in September? Do you hear the voice of the miller in the way the flour will sing when you press it gently together? If so, you are ready to bake.

When you have read the scriptures of flour it is time for the yeast and the water, The yeast like a human: it thrives when the water is perfect. It will grow if you are gentle and kind, but if you neglect it, your bread will be foreign, unkind.

If you have done it right when you knead it, the dough should be soft, like the cheek of a baby, and with patience you can bake it to bread. A loaf or a bun, it is your decision, but when it is ready, sit down and spread it with butter, and eat it with new-brewed tea from a pot.

wind-rippled wheat fields —
filling my kitchen in winter
breaking the bread


Today it’s the third Haibun Monday at dVerse, and the prompt is to use the painting by Vincent van Gogh as inspiration. We open as usually at 3 PM EST and the prompt is open for a week.

November 2, 2015

51 responses to “The art of baking your bread

  1. What a wonderful haibun has come from you from this painting. I went all dark but you have captured the essence of the colors, the people of this town, the simple joy of bread. This is marvelous.

  2. You’ve really made the baking of bread come alive. I like the idea of reading the scriptures of flour. And indeed you have to treat the bread well in the baking (sort of like a child?) or there will be problems in the end. Nothing quite like fresh bread and freshly brewed tea! A hunger-producing haibun, Bjorn.

  3. Ah. The art of baking bread indeed. To see and feel the places our food comes from is a wonderful thing to do. Kneading a dough has a pleasure of its own. Lovely.
    Beautiful haiku in the end. 🙂

  4. I admire the process of bread making and this is a unique story telling on the canvas Bjorn ~ This part was particularly striking for me and stands out:

    When you have read the scriptures of flour it is time for the yeast and the water, The yeast like a human: it thrives when the water is perfect. It will grow if you are gentle and kind, but if you neglect it, your bread will be foreign, unkind.

    Amazing haibun !!

  5. Ah, the baking of bread – one of the most elementary and elemental of human undertakings, at least in Europe. A metaphor for life itself, for creation, and a literal pleasure to all the senses.

  6. I like where you took this, Bjorn. To me, baking, the feel and aroma of the dough is such a comforting thing. In my recent trip to North Dakota, I was awed by the many open fields and the thought of all the work that goes into feeding us.

  7. Elemental in our everyday lives, the breaking of bread is all you described! So much significance is derived from the idea of the making and sharing of bread. I can imagine being there, in France, in a village near the fields, smelling the aroma of fresh baked bread on any given day. I could almost taste the yeast and wheat as I read this. Beautiful to see those rippling fields, beautiful to read your haibun.

  8. Great haibun! Wow! what a trip, i was transported totally with this contemplation, and dear i say, i luv bread, i still carry the wafts from my mother’s kitchen; i’m hopeless though at bread-making

    have a grand Tuesday

    much love…

  9. I think the bread is a metaphor for the work one must put into “tending a flower” (a woman), emotionally and physically.

  10. Pingback: Haibun Monday – Vincent van Gogh | pviljoen·

  11. Nearly went to bake a bread because of this. Will tomorrow. At first misunderstood the prompt having seen your contribution prior to Dverse arriving in my reader and went the break making route with the haibun and had to rethink the entire thing! Will bake bread and post the other haibun later just because I did all the work.

  12. I LOVE this!!!!! The flour carrying the yellow of the fields, the green of the trees………the flour singing when you press it……..and, with your haiku, I could feel the warmth and kindliness of your winter kitchen. Sigh. A lovely and evocative write, my friend.

  13. I wrote an essay about bread and your poem took me there. In the field, the sun and the perfume of life~ Lovely! Off to eat bread 😀

  14. This is wonderful…. The scriptures of flour describes it so perfectly. Love the imagery throughout, and you made me want to go to the kitchen and bake some bread!

  15. As someone who just attempted her first brioche, I think I went at it all wrong! But I love the thought you put behind the flour and grindstone. Thanks for posting.

  16. You’ve baked a delicious haibun here…thanks for serving up a light and lovely prompt! I like to grind my own flour when I bake bread but cannot find the hard white spring wheat in the local store anymore.

  17. this is just beautiful! like a religion to bake break, knead it, feel it just right. And the aroma of fresh baked bread, oh yes, butter for sure and steeped tea. Parfait!! your haiku makes this feel like a Sabbath dinner.

  18. There’s nothing like fresh baked bread and I love how you took us to the essence from which bread comes, from those beautiful wheat fields. I too liked your line about reading the scripture of flour and how the dough should be soft as a baby’s cheek. Yes!

  19. You made me hungry, Bjorn. Yesterday I had a tooth pulled and now have a diet of soft foods until Saturday. So I will bake it ‘soft’. Actually, knowing you, I think there is a hidden message for life buried in here. Not real obvious but I sensed one. (Could diverge into several themes: purity; care; serving; living a good life, …)

  20. I so love embodying the original home and fullness of the flour – really connecting before baking and so true about the baby cheek…very much alike…your closing is poignant in the breaking bread…great write, Bjorn!

  21. If I may use a baseball analogy here…you just hit a grand-slam home run. This is fabulous! I have read many excellent pieces of work from you…but this may be the best yet.

  22. This give me a sense of serenity … having baked bread many many times your haibun seemed to be an outside voice whispering kind memories … beautiful.

  23. I’m very happy to have found you today and I thank you for visiting windinmywheels. Loved this. Van Gogh, fields, kitchen, rest, thankfulness, evocation. I’ll be back … to learn more from you.

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