“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard
Bob is a warm and funny man with a soft smile and a great laugh. He is also humble and so Bob is not even his real name! This glimpse of spirit is about giving gifts simply for the joy of doing so. Deepak Chopra says of giving, “The law of giving is very simple: If you want joy, give joy. If love is what you seek, offer love. If you crave material affluence, help others become prosperous.” For over thirty-five years, Bob has been joyfully giving away delicious nourishment in the form of bread.
Bob, how did your journey into bread baking begin?
We moved into town about thirty-five years ago and as a welcome gift, one of our neighbors brought us a loaf of her homemade bread. It was delicious and I raved about it so much, my lovely wife decided to get the recipe and bake a loaf for me. It was a brick! So I tried and made a brick too. I would not be deterred however.
Anyone who has ever tried making bread has made bricks. The bricks, it turns out, are delicious sliced and toasted. I began experimenting with making bread and soon, I was hooked! I just loved it. I experimented with switching out ingredients and it soon evolved into a healthy recipe known as “Bob’s bread”.
How did you begin to give bread away?
Well, even though my bread is delicious, we only go thru about a loaf a week at my house. In the beginning, I was making three loaves each weekend. We had extra bread and so we began to give it away. My wife and I are a team on this. I bake and she helps me find recipients.
At first we offered bread to friends and neighbors. From there, this bread making hobby kind of took on a life of it’s own. We gave it to people who were celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Sometimes, we would give it away to complete strangers. When our children were young, I would donate an item for their school fundraising auction where we would deliver a loaf of bread for a whole year to the highest bidder. It was a pretty big hit.
“Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.” – Nikoli Berdyaev
Did you ever think of selling your bread Bob?
Over the years many people have suggested to me that I open a bakery and sell my bread. But that is not what this is about for me. I really love making bread and giving it away is simply a gift. I do not want or expect anything in return. I have found that giving it away brings me joy. Giving this bread has been easy for me because I know it is really good and I bake it with the intention of giving it away as a true gift. In that way, it has been a gift for me too.
What does bread symbolize to you?
I think that bread represents the essence of our life. It is the thing that sustains us and takes our hunger away. It is nourishment and it is delicious. To me, everything is spiritual. Baking this bread and giving it away for so many years has offered me many wonderful connections with others. It has created friendships and helped me get to know my neighbors better.
For thousands of years, baking bread was a communal activity. Each week, the bread oven would be fired up in the center of town and people would gather together to socialize and bake their bread for the week. My dream is to purchase a bread oven and teach people how to make their own homemade bread. There is something therapeutic and wonderful about kneading dough and baking bread together.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
– M.F.K. Fischer
You have a beautiful family Bob. Do any of your kids or grandkids bake bread with you?
Yes. Everyone in the family has baked bread with me. Except my wife! Everyone loves kneading the dough and shaping the loaf. They love the smell of bread baking and are very proud of themselves when they get to bring their own loaf home. It is a family affair!