There’s nothing quite like a made-from-scratch, yummy-smelling loaf of bread that’s fresh out of the oven, is there? Baking the perfect loaf of bread is both a science and an art, and for one Minnesota dad who was searching for a way of “slowing things down”, it’s also a labor of love.
Chris Boles describes himself as a “husband, father, friend, bread enthusiast and a wild yeast wrangler” on the website for his business Fire and Flour Bread. Boles first started baking artisan bread from scratch years ago because he wanted to create something that “hits soul deep” and share it with others. And in the years since, he certainly has.
Making something from scratch can be an intimidating venture for sure. I’m an unapologetic carb enthusiast myself (and am pretty much obsessed with bread), but never felt like I would be good at making it. Then one night I forced my introverted self out of the house for a bread-making class and it kind of changed my life. I remember saying to the woman next to me as I placed my wheat loaf into the pan, “If this works out, it will be a miracle.”
It did work out — and it was heavenly. Now I make bread as often as I can, and I love filling my home with the scent of baking bread and sharing the loaves with my family and friends
Boles loves to share his bread, too. In fact, he’s becoming well known in his hometown for simply giving it away to those in need. It’s not uncommon for him to hand over a boule to a stranger, and he enjoys involving his kids in the giving, too.
“I would give all of my bread away if I could,” Boles tells Babble; but then he wouldn’t have the money for ingredients needed to make more.
Boles makes each loaf of bread by hand out of his home in Minnesota. He’s also passionate about using high-quality fresh milled organic wheat from a company called Sunrise Flour, and says that you can taste the difference in the quality and time that’s put into developing it.
“If you do something right, people will notice,” he explains.
Because Boles works for a Heath Fitness Corporation during the week, his bread-making takes place on the weekends; but it’s an arrangement he relishes, and one that allows him to be home with his wife and three kids. In fact, he often involves his 9-year-old daughter in some of the baking, and tells Babble that she helps him measure out ingredients and loves to steal some of the dough for herself.
When I make bread, I have my two boys help out too, giving each of them a “mini-loaf” to play with and eventually bake. It’s a fun way to involve kids in the creating process and as Boles puts it, “It teaches them a good life skill.”
Boles also brings his kids to different “pop-up” markets where they sell the bread and hand out free loaves to children and people in need. But he’s not just passionate about helping others; he’s also passionate about showing people what they can make with their own two hands, if they just put in the time and effort. When Boles hands out his bread, he asks that people truly experience it, using all the senses instead of just eating absentmindedly. It’s all part of what he calls his “slowing things down” mentality, and I have to say, it sounds like he’s on to something.
In a world that moves at a sometimes frenetic pace, with constant distractions everywhere we look, Boles’ simple act of goodwill is a wonderful reminder of the importance of savoring the small things — like a gorgeous slice of artisan bread. It’s also a great example a parent teaching their kids just how beautiful it is create something with love by hand, and how good it feels to share that creation with others.
Now, please excuse me while I hop on a flight to Minnesota and get me some of that heavenly sourdough goodness …