Tiny Beginnings

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“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Matthew 13:33

My kitchen has the lovely smell of bread rising.

Flour mixed with yeast gives off the beautiful aroma of the anticipation of something wonderful to come. I can remember my mother’s kitchen smelling the same on days she was baking what we called Light Rolls. They were going to accompany a big pot of white beans and ham that had its own wonderfulness. Without that warm roll with butter melting into the surface of the steamy bread, the beans by themselves would not have been the same.

Oh, man. . .

Before drooling takes over, I want to look at the verse that started this line of thought.

Although most of us equate leavening with sin and its ever-increasing desire to take over, here Jesus uses the concept in a different way. This particular teaching on the kingdom of heaven is a one-liner, found tucked amongst the stories about planting of seeds and finding of treasure. [See Matthew 13] The leavening found in this portion of scripture is intended to give the idea of how a very small thing can make big changes.

The kind of leavening Jesus is referring to is what we know as sour dough. No packets of yeast could be found at the grocery store for his listeners. They were able to picture the concept because virtually every household would make bread in the same way. The starter, as bakers refer to it today, was a little piece of dough reserved from the batch before it. That piece was full of yeast that was alive, and once it was mixed into flour and water, it would also bring life to them.

I love this little bit of scripture and how it points to small beginnings that, at first, cannot be seen from the outside. The woman hides the bit of dough into the flour. This is somewhat like hiding God’s living Word in our hearts. I know in my own case, it started small. A verse here and there, but it grew. The more I incorporated God’s word into my heart, the more I wanted to know. The more I knew, the more I had to share with those around me. It grew and grew, taking over and changing my thoughts and actions.

Now, take the individuals who have infused God’s words into their lives and have grown in the ways of kingdom life, and mix them in a world that is dead. Life will begin to take hold as the effects of God’s Word spreads. The process will generate change, bringing God’s kingdom to our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities.

God’s little bit of leaven hidden in our lives can produce some really great results.

The scent of goodness and life that comes as it grows will alert everyone around us that something wonderful is happening—the kingdom of heaven spreading into all the earth.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”

2 Corinthians 2:14-16


A recipe is certainly in order for this post. This one makes a delicious loaf. If you would like to start your own sour dough, save a pinch of unbaked dough in a lidded container for your next batch. When ready to use it, incorporate it into the dough with the water and an additional 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast.

Over time, your sour dough will get more sour as the starter develops. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, just start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info keeping sour dough starter. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info for keeping sour dough starter.

No-Knead Artisan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add  water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add a splash of water if needed for right consistency. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or towel, and let rise for 2 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Place lid on pot, bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until bread in golden.
  7. Cool on wire rack.
  8. Eat with plenty of butter. Yum!
  9. Enjoy!