Bread Lessons

Bread Lessons

Just Want Some Bread

My daughter stopped in for a brief visit from college this past weekend. She had an appointment, but what she really wanted was some bread – not money – though it tasted so good it might be considered currency in some Walter Mitty-like fairytale. I made the first pass early in the day Friday and left it to rise.

Bread Offering

By the time she came home in the evening and threw off the cover of the bowl – I fully expected it to be about to bust over the top. It wasn’t. Either the yeast had failed – or I had. I put it on the warm stove to see if it just needed a bit more heat – we were in a bit of a cold snap, and the window was open, so… it was worth a shot. We went about doing the things that needed to be done, and later that night, after I had begun nodding off the sleep, I jumped up to check on its progress. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Failed Dough

Not Rising To The Occasion

I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I set about making a new batch. I pulled the other lump of dough and put it aside. When I finished mixing and kneading the fresh dough, I greased the bowl, covered it, and put it in the oven to stay warm. Then I looked at my failed, deflated dough and wondered if there was some way to revive it, salvage it, or repurpose it. I grabbed a bag of dried rosemary from my garden, stripped each sprig, and sprinkled the lot of it into my dough.


If At First You Don’t Succeed…

I kneaded and kneaded. Afterward, I took out my rolling pin, floured the table lightly, and began rolling and stretching the dough into the largest rectangle I could create. I opened a fresh pack of quick-rising yeast – spread it evenly over the entire surface, ran the tap water hot, and wet my hands. Patting every section of the dough with my warm wet hands until it was dissolved seemed like a long shot, but I kept at it. Finally, I stopped patting and began to roll from one end to the other like a giant jelly roll. Then I needed it some more and put it in a covered, oiled bowl, left it in the oven next to the new batch, and crossed my fingers.

kneading dough

Bright and early, I was up checking on my dough.

It had risen! A puch, punch, snip, and tuck later, it was in two loaf pans and back in the oven for more rising. Then I checked my failed one. Wonder of wonders! It had risen too. It wasn’t much and still had a long way to go, but I was encouraged. After an hour, I turned on the oven and waited for the delectable smell of freshly baking bread to bring the kids down. By the time they arrived, my rosemary bread was bubbling over the top f the bowl.  After washing out the bread tins, I punched and clips and tucked the new pair of loaves in pans and put them in the over to rise some more.

Fresh Bread

The Sweet Smell Of Success!

The entire house smelled like freshled baked bread – plain and rosemary. They were cripsed, buttered, and browned to perfection. Footfalls began making themselves heard, then heads appeared in the doorway. Can I have some? Of Course, that’s what it’s there for! Fresh bread never lasts long here. That was Saturday; today two loaves are gone, a thrid has already begun being cut, and it’s only Monday morning.


Bread Lessons

In general, I’d say the baking was a success. True, one didn’t turn out the way I’d planned. It needed more work, more heat, more leavening, more pressing, pounding, and turning – more time. The extra work allowed for a sweet addition and given enough time, it became an even more savory version of what I’d first envisioned. That’s life. Things might not always turn out the way we’ve expected, but that doesn’t mean something wonderful can’t come of it. 

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