For many years, I have expressed a desire to establish a tradition in our household of breaking the Passover fast with a loaf of freshly baked bread. I envisioned it as a simple way to reflect on the reasons we (or at least I) abstain from bread, grains and other foods on Passover–as a reflection on slavery, oppression and states of human emergency in the past and in the present. While we talk about this during our initial seders, the rest of the holiday’s 8 days are generally spent gorging ourselves on matzoh balls and brisket, or quinoa and frittata, as the case may be. So I had this fantasy that I would bookend the holiday with some more thoughtfulness, marking its end with this conscious transition back to the foods we have avoided. I thought it would be impactful to start with something as simple, but fragrant and delectable, as fresh bread. It would be both a physically and emotionally satisfying way of returning to the land of the leavened. I imagined how wonderful it would feel to have the smell of freshly baked bread permeate the house.
Every year, though, I forget to do this until it’s too late. Until this year, when I finally ponied up. What is strange is that this year had Passover ending (this past Tuesday evening) during one of the busiest weeks, professionally, that I have had all year. It is therefore bizarre that this was suddenly the year I finally made good on my promise and baked up some bread. (Am I the only one who procrastinates through baking?) It was a pleasure, though, to take a few minutes from a day spent largely freaking out on my laptop to experiment with one of my favourite ever bread recipes: this honey-oat bread from the Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont.
I discovered this bread last summer, when I took a short trip to the Stowe area of Vermont with Graeme and his family. I love Vermont for about a million reasons, and food is very high on that list, especially in the summer when fresh produce is everywhere. Our first night there, we had dinner at the Green Mountain Inn, and it was the bread they gave us before the meal that blew us away. How often does that happen? Just sweet enough and with the perfect doughy texture, we devoured it until they brought us more. The sweetness is so good with a little bit of butter, it’s not even funny. We asked the waitress what it was, and she told us it was honey-oat bread, which I made a mental note to try and find a recipe for when we got home. I googled it almost immediately upon returning, and was shocked to find that Bon Appetit had once printed the actual recipe for that exact honey-oat bread in their restaurant recipe section. It was either fortuitous, or a sign that it was indeed the best damn bread ever, and we weren’t the only ones to recognize that!
Such a treasured bread seemed like an obvious choice for breaking the fast, and indeed, the two loaves baked up beautifully and elicited happy sights as we dug into them. This is a very easy bread to bake (although I am definitely still perfecting it), and I cannot recommend it enough. In the future, I want to mess around with the recipe and see if I can incorporate some whole wheat flour into it, so that I can make it more of an everyday bread rather than a “treat” bread. But in the meantime, it has been two days since I baked it and there are just a couple of slices of the second loaf left; we just can’t resist the stuff. And also, we really, really missed eating bread.