Inspired by the memory of her mother's Irish bread, Karen Kelly Kiefer, with the aid of her close friend, Juliette Fay, launched Spread the Bread after the devastation of September 11 as a way to use bread, a food associated with home and comfort, to help heal their Wayland, Massachusetts community.
Kiefer and her children had been baking her mother's bread and giving it to neighbors and friends years before the official beginning of Spread the Bread. And after receiving such a warm and welcome response to their homebaked gestures, they decided to extend their bread spreading to local nursing homes and shelters, to people in need of comfort and nourishment.
Describing the significance of her mother's bread, Kiefer says, "As a child her bread spoke to me, letting me know I was home, I was safe. I was cared for, loved. As I grew older, her bread spoke to others, letting them know they are safe, they are cared for, not forgotten, loved."
Spread the Bread has developed in a grassroots movement whose mission is to nurture children's innate generosity (though adults are just as encouraged to spread their homebaked loaves of bread), with the goal of sparking a life-long commitment to helping others.
Children are provided with opportunities to practice volunteerism by baking bread and donating it to honor a hero (you define your hero: police, firefighters, military, veterans) or help those in need, such as shelter residents and food pantry consumers.
Parents are supported in their efforts to teach their children about the importance of charitable giving and community participation. Bread recipients are given a homemade loaf of bread and the message that they are not forgotten. For bakers and recipients, "bread spreading" promotes respect for the importance and dignity of each member of society.
Let this year's St Patrick's Day launch your bread spreading, teaching your kids about compassion and the importance of helping others. Visit SpreadtheBread.org for more information on how to get started in your community - schools, teachers, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, sports organizations and other groups can initiate a Spread the Bread movement.
Here's a Simple St Patrick's Day Irish Soda Bread. Bake one for your family and one for a local hero or family in need.
A moist five-ingredient bread that requires no time to rise – an ideal accompaniment for St Patrick's Day meals.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and grease a 10-inch cake pan with butter. Sprinkle in flour, turning the pan to coat. Tap out extra flour.
2. Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add buttermilk and use a wooden spoon to stir until a dough begins to form. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to knead into a ball.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the cake pan. Flatten slightly to push dough to the sides of the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross in the top of the dough. Bake for 25 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. for 15 more minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
4. Remove bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Cut into wedges or slices and serve warm. If making ahead, allow bread to cool fully then wrap with plastic wrap and keep in a cool place. Eat within two days or bread will be dry.
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