Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time Out Thursday - The Zen of Baking Bread

Jennifer Hayward's talking to the Pink Heart Society about how baking bread helps her refill her well...

Refilling the well. As my writing career has progressed, I’ve learned that hard work and sitting myself down at the keyboard every day is the key to producing consistently good work as a full-time writer. As Nora Roberts once said in a workshop I attended – she tells her kids ‘fire, flood or blood’ – something to that effect – is the only reason to interrupt her while she’s working.

This is true for me too. I try and limit distractions when I’m writing, give myself goals before I can take a break doing social media and also those other tangents I love to get on to. But I’ve also learned one other valuable lesson. Getting away from the keyboard is equally as important as being there. Doing things I love, refilling that creative well, so my works stays fresh and I have renewed enthusiasm to sit down and write every day. Otherwise I burn out, it isn’t fun anymore.

Taking a walk is one of my favourite pastimes, listening to music that inspires me while I do it, or watching a favourite TV program. But without a doubt, one of the most therapeutic hobbies I have that takes me back to my East Coast Canadian roots and never fails to put me in a zen frame of mind is baking. Everything. Cookies, bread, cakes. I even made a perfect Baked Alaska one time on my first try much to my mother’s amazement. The A type in me loves the exact science of it.

My favourite thing to bake, however, is bread, which funnily enough is not an exact science. My grandmother from Newfoundland taught me the art of kneading, proofing and producing a perfect golden-brown loaf that makes everyone in the house happy. What’s cool about it is depending on the air that day, how much flour I add or molasses, it’s always just a bit different. My mom and I have conversations about our break making – “You know,” she says, “it just wasn’t up to my usual standard this time. Not sweet enough.” Although my mom’s bread is always perfect!

I adored my grandmother, who called me ‘her pet’ who has passed on from this world, but who was one of the funniest, most loving, interesting characters I’ve ever been blessed to know. So, in celebration of Doris and her amazing bread, I’m sharing with you her recipe for Oatmeal Brown Bread. Warning: it’s addictive!

I’d like to know, what is your favourite therapeutic activity?

Oatmeal Brown Bread

Mix 1 cup oatmeal, 2 tsps. salt, 3 tbsp butter and pour over 1 ½ cups of boiling water. Let stand still until cool.

Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, ½ cup molasses, 1 cake yeast dissolved into ¾ cup water (add 1 tbsp of sugar to water to make the yeast rise per instructions)

Combine all of the above and stir in 5-6 cups flour until dough can be kneaded. Let rise until double. Then let dough rise in pan again (about one hour).

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can read the prequel story to Jennifer’s kickoff book for Harlequin Presents’ Society Weddings series, Society Wedding Secrets, on Harlequin’s website. Or read an excerpt from The Italian's Deal For I Do.


  1. Thanks for the wonderful post and the bread recipe. That loaf of bread looks delicious. I love watching British crime dramas and will often use them as incentive to get some writing done on days when the words don't want to come. They also help fill up the creative well, too. Sometimes when I'm feeling burned out or stuck, I'll pop in a favorite episode of Inspector Lewis or New Tricks and mindlessly watch. And many times something a character does or says will trigger an idea or a solution to the scene I'm stuck on.

    Thanks again! I have The Italian's Deal for I Do on my TBR!

  2. Ooh that sounds perfect Carol! I totally hear you! Curling up with my favourite TV show always inspires me. Your brain gets sparked as you say. There's something about letting the brain go that actually gets you where you need to be. Hope you enjoy Rocco & Liv and thanks for stopping by!