Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bread Making

I can't make bread. No, really. It's not that I don't like to make bread, or don't want to make bread, it's that I can't make bread. I've tried off and on for 40 years and each time--disaster.

As a new bride I felt it a duty to take on the domestic skills of housecleaning, laundry, quilting, canning, and bread making. I had a mom who taught me the skills of housecleaning and laundry, but as for the rest of those duties...not so much, in fact...nada. Besides, we had moved across the country from my hometown, so it was not feasible to call my mom and have her pop over for us to experiment with bread making together. Luckily a woman in the church we attended was the bomb at bread making. Everyone extolled her crescent rolls, sunflower bread, and french baguettes. I was excited to learn at the hands of a master.

I showed up at Dorthy's house, the arranged morning of the lesson, eager to learn a skill that would forever fix me in my husband's esteem. She placed me in a lovely white apron and handed me a packet of yeast. She instructed that I place the granules in some warm water so they would come to life. That freaked me out. I didn't know there were live things in bread. Yes, I know, leaven...bread rising, but I thought it was some sort of chemical thing, not some sort of biological thing. Anyway, the first packet the water was too hot and I singed the little microbes into oblivion. Second packet the water was too cold and the little bugs went into cryonic sleep. Third packet Dorthy did it and all was well.

For me, it went from bad to worse. I added too much flour. I kneaded the dough with too hot of hands. I put the rising bread in too warm an area and when it got to be the size of a beige beach ball I panicked and punched it down too forcefully. I don't remember what else went wrong. I do remember Dorthy's red face and scowl. I probably was the only pupil that completely failed under her expert tutelage.

My french bread loaf was as hard as a piece of cement.

On my was home from Dorthy's I stopped at the day-old bread store and picked up a lovely crusty loaf of french bread for $.99. I vowed never to try again.

Well, I have tried a few more attempts over the years, but have had (at best) only meager successes. I think that geneticist will one day discover a bread making gene which, alas, they will find I am totally lacking. No worries, I can always try my hand at quilting. Does that require a knowledge of sewing?

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