Today's topic is Prepare
After months of perfecting your challah baking practice, have you ever thought about the science behind what makes challah so delicious? Most bakers will tell you that true, good, baking relies on the science of chemistry. Yeast needs sugar to feed it in order to rise, but adding additional ingredients can inhibit that process. Under whipping egg whites can lead to a rubbery cake. When tempering chocolate, you must adhere carefully to the rise and fall of the temperature in order to result in shiny chocolate--otherwise you might get a dull, matte finish (although it will still taste good!)
In Peter Reinhardt’s cookbook The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, he shares that the first step in baking bread is mise en place, a French phrase meaning “everything in place.” Our Jewish tradition also teaches this concept in Pirkei Avot 4:3: ayn l’cha davar sheayn lo makom - there is no thing that has not its place. Before you can begin the chemistry experiment that leads to delicious bread, you must have all your ingredients, measuring tools, and kitchen utensils primed and ready to be brought in, at precisely the right moment.
As we look forward to the High Holidays, many of us are engaging in mise en place, writing cards to family and friends, getting out seasonal recipes, and dusting off formal wear for services. We can look even farther ahead into the coming year, too, preparing for our new year by gathering up the tools and supplies we will need.
JEdSTEM aims to develop engaged, curious, and innovative Jewish minds for the modern world.