For a long time, our house was filled periodically with that unmatched aroma which can only come when a new batch of loaves of bread are in the oven.
Then, for a variety of reasons, Phyllis got too busy with other interests, and the weekly baking session got lost in the shuffle.
Because I don't like to see traditions disappear, I decided to show her what we've been missing by whipping up a batch myself.
You can list that as Mistake No. 1,416,069 I have made in our marriage!
Since I wanted to surprise her, I picked a time when she would be in town all day and I would have the kitchen all to myself.
I didn't realize then what a great surprise it was really going to be!
First of all, I rifled through her recipe drawer to try to find something up to my sterling baking qualities. After all, I didn't want a run-of-the-mill product.
After settling on a basic "quick" bread, I began to assemble all the bowls I would need for the project. (I got out several others "just in case I would need them.")
Next I found her flour bin, because I knew that all breads included that stuff as a basic ingredient. (Actually I made a little mess with the white stuff, but the final result would make up for any little unsightly piles which accumulated along the way, I knew that Phyllis would clean up after me.)
I then got out the things I would need for my masterpiece; milk (the recipe called for hot water, up to 115 degrees, but I would use milk instead), sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and vanilla.
I used a separate bowl for each ingredient, so I wouldn't get them mixed up.
I finally put all that junk in a large mixing bowl and began kneading (which is what they called mixing the mess together). The eggs and vanilla would give it all a special taste, although they were not in the recipe I found.
As I kneaded, I tried to get everything to stick together and form a ball of dough like Phyllis always did, but it didn't and I finally decided to go to the next step.
That had to do with taking the glob I had made and putting it in a pan for rising. I knew that two packages of yeast would not raise the heavy mixture, so I used six. This would be the easy part, I thought, but I hadn't counted on the time it took for that step in the process.
I decided to cut all that wasted time in half (or was it one-third?), so I cut the dough in two and stuck it in the greased pans. So far so good, I said to myself. Again,I hadn't counted on the wasted time for another "rising."
I stuck the pans in the oven set for 500 degrees – although the recipe said 425, but I wanted to hurry up the procedure.
I remembered to tap the loaves to see if they were hollow (they weren't), but they were a nice golden brown.
On the outside!
When I tried to slice it, the innards were wet and mushy – and the two loaves were hardly recognizable as bread. Something must have gone wrong!
I left the mess for Phyllis to clean up – and I guess I'll be eating the soggy bread for quite awhile to prove that my baking prowess is still unchallenged. If you want to try something new, that is!
© 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz