Historical consequences of the No-Knead Revolution
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
I have been thinking. About my upcoming workshop. About life in general. I can’t deny it, I AM a thinker (and no, I have not hurt myself, …yet.) My next workshop is on No-Knead bread, the next best thing since sliced bread (or so it seems), which opened up to many a whole new world of bread baking! It all started when Mark Bittman wrote an article in the New York Times a few years ago about a gentlemen named Jim Lahey, who insisted that his method of bread making was so easy, a 4 year-old could do it. This was the beginning of a revolution in bread baking, let me tell you! I found out about this new way of making bread when I happened to reconnect with my old friend Rick after many years (we originally met in London 30 years ago). I had no idea that he, too, was an avid bread baker. And was in love with this new method! So, after trying it out myself and being impressed with the results, I decided I had to do a workshop to share my newfound baking knowledge.
Where am I going with this? Oh yes, it is the no-knead part is which got me thinking. Before this revolution, the general philosophy on gluten development was that it required kneading. Serious kneading! It is a known fact and principle to live by that all good things require work. And kneading bread supported this valiant principle. And not only that, but working the dough also has other advantages. Like being able to throwing yourself into that dough and letting it all out! All your frustrations, all your anger, all your disappointments…, just knead and slap that dough around to your heart’s content! It’s great for the dough, because you are developing the gluten and it’s great for you because you are relieving stress! And man, do we all need something to relieve stress in our busy lives!
So, I have now established the fact that kneading dough is a great stress reliever. To support this fact, my friends will be glad to testify that I am a fairly mellow person, which, I have always maintained is due to the fact that I bake bread often; or, to be more exact, that I knead bread often. And I am supposing that there are a lot of you out there who are able to maintain your sanity through semi-weekly bread kneading sessions.
Prosecutor: "Is it true that all this started when you abandoned your daily kneading habits and became an active member of the no-knead revolution?"
Can you see where I am going with this? Along comes this seemingly innocent no-knead bread revolution which at first glance seems to be a great thing! You toss your few ingredients into a bowl, add a pinch of yeast and let the whole shaggy mess sit for hours on end (8 hours at least). It’s great! You personally don’t have to exert any energy and can just loaf about (pun intended) while time takes care of everything else, mainly developing the gluten. No work on your part is involved. No sore muscles, no workout. You just go ahead and relax.
Now, because you get optimum output (great bread) with the least amount of input (effort), everyone jumps on the no-knead bandwagon. No, wait, they are actually sprinting and pole vaulting (did I mention I think in pictures?)! Does anyone so much as stop for even the tiniest of seconds to consider the consequences all this might have on America’s families and the fabric of society in general? Did you think about that, I ask you, before you signed up for this upcoming no-knead workshop?
I am convinced that this whole no-knead revolution will be the downfall of an entire nation!
Well, let me tell you my theory. I am convinced that this whole no-knead revolution will be downfall of an entire nation! It is laying the foundation for a continuing decline of the already diminished work ethics of this country (compared to the previous generations). Who wants to work when you can simply sit and relax while your dough is doing all the hard work for you, I ask you. This will carry over from bread baking into other aspects of your life, I am sure of it!
Which brings me to the second part of my theory It is a well-known fact that most revolutions in history ended up in blood shed. Did you really think this revolution would be any different? That you could reverse century old rituals without serious consequences? Did you?
I can vividly see the following scene played all over America: Susi Homemaker, Molly Mormon and all those other ‘proper’ upstanding women we looked up to and emulated for years, will end up in court rooms all over America having been accused of physically attacking various members of their families. They will then plead their “no-knead insanity defense”...
Prosecutor: “Is it true that all this started when you abandoned your daily kneading habits and became an active member of the no-knead bread revolution?”
Susie Homemaker: “Yes Sir, I cannot deny that a noticeable change came over me when I stopped kneading my breads. I started feeling emotions I never felt before and for which I had no words in my otherwise extensive vocabulary; unfamiliar emotions like anger, disappointment and frustration. Yes, frustration was a big one! Once I stopped kneading, all these emotions just started piling up, and piling up, and I don’t know what came over me. It just all exploded! ”
Prosecutor: “So, if I understand you correctly, once there was no need to knead your bread dough any longer, you did what exactly?
Susie Homemaker: “I don’t rightly know, Sir. I was told by my children that I hit them. Physically abused them. I would have never done a thing like that before. Ever! I do blame it all on the no knead-revolution. I know now that we need to knead. Our mental and emotional health depends on it."
Prosecutor: “I rest my dough… …my case!
In closing I want to put it on the record that I really don’t want to be held accountable for contributing to the downfall of society by presenting this upcoming workshop on no-knead bread. So, I want it noted that I did urge you to make advance alternate plans for relieving your future stress level. Like possibly signing-up for a yoga class?
Over and Out.