Making Bread and Memories

Making Dough in a Wooden BowlIn this modern age of plastic and steel, our kitchens can take on a scary resemblance to a hospital: sterile, cold, and too high-tech for comfort. It’s no wonder many of us secretly pine for a simpler time, when kitchens were warmed by the glow of a hearth fire reflecting off the age-old beauty of cast iron, burnished copper, and patinaed wood.

Nothing recalls that gentle era better than wooden kitchenware: hand-carved spoons, potato mashers, and a vital tool called the dough bowl. In colonial America, dough bowls provided a snug, warm place in which bread could rise prior to baking. A good bowl was handed down through a family, passing along the memory of Mother and the wealth of experiences that make a kitchen the heart of a home. Each descendant added her own mark to this history written in wood until she, in turn, bequeathed her dough bowl to her children.

But those who pioneered America weren’t just sentimental: they valued a good dough bowl because they were practical, too. Wooden bowls have always been the preferred choice for bread-making because the heat generated by the yeast is retained in the wood, giving the dough an even rise—and because the bowl’s high sides protect the dough from drafts.

We’re proud to carry on this Yankee tradition by bringing to you this lovely wooden dough bowl. Our pieces are made locally from tight-grained cherry wood that's tough enough to withstand a New England winter. We carefully hand-rub each bowl with beeswax and mineral oil to bring out its unique personality, creating a work of art that's heirloom quality. With a little care, your dough bowl will endure for generations--connecting members of your own family to happy times and simpler days.

How to Care for Your Dough Bowl

When your bowl arrives, welcome it with a quick, sanitizing vinegar bath.

  • Mix one part white vinegar with five parts water.
  • Using a soft, clean dishcloth or spray bottle, wet the bowl thoroughly, inside and out.
  • Let the solution work for 3-5 minutes.
  • Rinse the bowl with warm water.
  • Let the bowl air dry.
  • Never sanitize a wooden bowl in the microwave, as this would cause the wood to crack.

Follow the vinegar bath with regular seasoning.

  • We recommend using mineral oil (available at your local grocery store or pharmacy) because it’s inexpensive and won’t turn rancid.
  • Season once a day for the first week, then once a week for three weeks, followed by once a month thereafter—or whenever you notice your bowl looks faded or dull.
  • To season, apply mineral oil liberally with a soft cloth or paper towel. Let it soak in for at least five minutes (an hour or two is better), then wipe off the excess oil.

Cleaning your bowl:

  • Don’t immerse your bowl in water, and never wash it in the dishwasher. Instead, let leftover dough dry thoroughly until it can be scraped out easily with a plastic scrubber.
  • Once the excess dough is removed, put a little warm water and mild soap in the bowl and wash it gently with a clean dish cloth.
  • Immediately rinse with warm water, then air dry or pat dry with a soft dish towel.
  • Season after every use, to keep your bowl moisturized and looking its best.

Repairing damage:

  • If your bowl starts to feel fuzzy to the tough, sand it gently with fine (400-600 grit) sandpaper. Rub lightly until the bowl feels smooth, then wash, dry, and season as usual.
  • If you don’t have any sandpaper, a paper bag can be used to smooth out the roughness.
  • Fine sandpaper will work for scratches, nicks, and most dents, but deep dents may require more intensive repair. Soak the bowl in water overnight, then use increasingly-coarse sandpaper until the dent is smoothed out. Once it’s gone, polish away any roughness with fine sandpaper. Then wash, dry, and season as usual.

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