Abilene father makes bread to raise money for adoption
Joel Paris has always had a knack for baking, and now he is using his talents for one of the most important journeys in his and his wife, Kendra’s, lives – to help fund the adoption of their second child.
The couple’s adoption process is not unlike creating the perfect loaf of bread, in that both require time, patience, trust and a lot of love.
“In order to become approved to adopt there are a number of steps a family needs to take,” Joel said. “This helps the agency find a good match, as well as ensure that the adopting family will provide a safe and healthy environment for a child.”
For the Paris family, adoption was “always part of the story.”
“We just want a baby who needs love,” Joel said. He and Kendra are currently in the “waiting phase” for a soon-to-be little brother or sister for their six-year-old son, Julien.
“Adoption isn’t cheap,” said Joel, who serves as the Activities’ Director at Disability Resources, Inc. in Abilene. Working with Christian Homes & Family Services, he and Kendra became aware of various fundraising opportunities to help pay for the expenses. At that point, Joel realized he could turn his hobby into something more.
“I was already making bread and would usually make one loaf for us and give the other two to friends, so I told Kendra that if I gave out more bread, maybe people would donate,” he said.
And that’s how Paris Artisan Breads got its start.
“I was making focaccia and sourdough breads and gave some to a friend who said he wanted to pay me, so I just told him, ‘How about you donate to our adoption,” Joel said.
Joel said the fundraising is “going well” and has so far generated several thousand dollars.
“Our church has been really encouraging and I’ve also gotten some big orders – for example, Hanner Chevrolet asked me to make almost 100 loaves of bread as a thank-you to their employees,” said Joel, adding that he generates interest primarily through promoting his bread on social media as well as through word of mouth.
Joel said his primary reason for baking is because he enjoys it and harkens him back to days spent in the kitchen with his mother.
“Growing up, we had a cherry tree in our yard, and we baked a lot of pies so the cherries wouldn’t go to waste. We also baked a lot of cookies, and I have really great memories spending that time with her.”
Later, Joel and Kendra spent time serving as missionaries in Dresden, Germany – which boasts some of the best bakeries in the world. It was here that he “fell in love with baking.”
“I was really into baking at that point, but it was mostly sweet things,” he said. “A few years after we moved to Abilene, we were really missing the great bread we could buy in Germany. I was watching an online video of someone making sourdough bread and thought about how I wanted to try my hand at making something savory.”
That was in 2016, and Joel has been baking ever since. Using three simple ingredients – flour, water and salt – Joel adds a touch of creativity to make loaves that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.
“I’m pretty much making bread all the time and especially around the holidays I was baking several hundred loaves,” said Joel, who works out of his 1918 Arts-and-Crafts style home in south Abilene. “I do have to devote one or two days to a deep clean of the kitchen, because it always seems like there is a layer of flour everywhere.”
He added that “Kendra is super supportive” and said that even the couple’s son gets in on the action.
Joel said the joy he receives from bread making comes from the time he gets to spend with his son, as well as the fact that the entire process is “very calming to the spirit.”
“It takes a good 48 hours from start to finish,” he said. “It takes a lot of patience, which I find really fulfilling.”
For questions about bread or to donate towards Joel and Kendra’s adoption, visit @joelmparis on Instagram, or contact Christian Homes & Family Services at 1-800-592-4725 or attn@ChristianHomes.com.
Bread tips and recipe from Joel
Bread is simple. All you need is unbleached bread flour, water, and salt. To make sourdough, your leavening agent or yeast comes from a sourdough starter that is simply a fermented mixture of
flour and water that uses the naturally occurring yeasts in your flour. Once you have a healthy starter you can start making bread.
COUNTRY LOAF INGREDIENTS
• 710g of water
• 200g of active sourdough starter
• 800g of unbleached bread flour
• 200g of rye flour
• 20g of salt
• About 12 hours before I want to start my mixing process I feed my starter. I will mix 110g of flour and 110g of water with about 20g of your current starter. Mix well and set it out in a jar or Tupperware (with a loose fitting lid) that will give it plenty of room to grow. After around 12 hours or when it has doubled in size you can begin your actual bread.
• Start by measuring your water in a mixing bowl. Add 200g of starter to the water. Take the rest of the remaining starter and set it aside (you can keep on feeding it and use it for your next bake).
• Next I will add the 1kg of flour. You can mix by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook. Mix until there are no remaining dry pieces of flour. Move your dough to a large container and cover it. Find a warm place and let it rest for 30 minutes.
• This is a recipe where there is no kneading but instead I will stretch and fold the dough. Incorporate your salt by folding it. After the salt is added, put it back in a warm location and set a timer for 3 hours. Every 45 minutes stretch and fold the dough.
• After the 3 hours, lay your dough out on a lightly floured surface and portion it out however you would like. Cover with a tea towel and let the doughs rest for another 30 minutes. Use rice flour to dust your proofing baskets or lined bowls and after you shape your individual doughs, place them in the baskets and place them in the refrigerator overnight. After 8-12 hours in the fridge, warm up your oven to 500 degrees with a Dutch oven inside.
• Place your doughs on a piece of parchment paper and with a razor blade or very sharp knife cut a seam down the middle of your bread (this will help your bread to rise while baking). Place the bread inside the Dutch oven with the lid. Lower the temp to 450 degrees and set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes take off the lid and bake for another 20 minutes. Take out a slice and enjoy.
• The recipe is very easy. The difficulty with making bread is having the right techniques to mix, fold, and score your bread. You also must have patience and give it time. It is only with time that your gluten and flavor will develop and your bread will rise.
By Molly Hill
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography