Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Breadtime Stories

I'm not the only one who has compared bread dough to a baby's bottom. Louise Lewis has drawn the same metaphor in this story :
If you have raised any children, or even babysat a lot, you probably understand my meaning in reference to bread baking!

My first real go at solo bread baking came in the first year I was raising my boys who were born 13 months apart.I had decided to stay at home for a few years with them, and while at home began trying all sorts of things that one can do when they have time on their hands. Yeah, right. But gardening and baking bread did become my pass times while the boys napped, and I fondly remember baking my first loaf of white bread, scalding the milk, and melting the shortening, using an old recipe I found in a cookbook. That hobby grew into a passion, and went further into a very unexpected career. One of my favorite references, while teaching others to bake bread was using the different degrees of a baby's bottom as an indicator of different types of bread and their readiness. "It should feel like a freshly powered babies butt while they are sleeping." "It should be smooth and elastic, like the skin on a babies bottom..." It really was amazing at times how easily beginners to the field understood and were able to use that reference to whip up a great loaf of bread. I think, bread baking just must bring out the "mom" in all of us!

Risa sent us a couple of stories, but we only have room here for one of them, a Thanksgiving Day tale:

A few years back, I was making Pumpkin Soft Yeast Rolls the day before Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving dinner. I put the dough ingredients into the bread machine and made sure it looked good before walking away. About 10 minutes later, I heard the machine making a real racket! When I went to check, the bread pan was shaking, the mixing blade was going crazy and then it stopped. Completely stopped. I tried to re-start it and it wouldn't. I had partially made dough. I put the dough in a bowl and used the electric hand mixer to finish the recipe.

My husband called me to see how things were going and I told him that the bread machine had died. It was a gift from my parents for my anniversary a couple of years earlier. It was one of those Dak Turbo IVs. The next morning I insisted on going to the mall, Sterns was having a sale on electric items. For $75 I found a Breadman TR444 and I was back in business.

Jay's daughter insists on "helping:"
My 3-year-old daughter likes to steal the raw bread dough. Just about every day she asks if she can help me "dump". She helps me put the bread dough together, dumping the ingredients one by one into the bowl, then says "Daddy, now you need to go like this", urging me to knead the dough. (I don't really trust the machine) Then she proceeds to steal dough by whatever means necessary. She tries anything that might work: telling me to look at something on the other side of the room, moving the stepstool to the other side (so I won't see) and downright shoving me out of the way. She usually settles for the bowl and paddle after a few purloined handfuls.

Michele was also moved to an act of poesy with this piece that she notes is suspiciously like "Twas The Night Before Christmas:"
Twas the week after our trip and all through our home
was the smell of bread baking, and it was almost done
I’d mixed it and kneaded and shaped it with care
In hopes that fresh Broetchen soon would be there

My husband was nestled, all snug in our bed
While visions of German breakfast danced in his head
And me in my apron, the cat on my lap
Had just settled down for a quick 5-minute nap

When from the stove there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter
It was just the oven buzzer, I turned it off in a flash
Went to the oven, and saw my hopes dashed

The light of the oven, its slight yellow glow
Showed the luster of egg wash on the objects below
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But some sad looking rolls, just as I feared

They looked just like the last batch, I pulled them right quick
I knew in a moment, they would be just like bricks
More rapid than eagles, myself I did blame
I fumed and I complained and I called myself names

I’m hopeless, a moron! I said to the cat
I’m just making rolls, what could be easier than that?
To the garbage these go, outside by the wall
Now throw away, throw away, throw away all.

They didn’t rise well, (at least the bottoms weren’t black)
This bread baking business, would I ever get the knack?
So off to the Internet to view sights that I knew
Surely someone could help me with my new pursuit?

And then in a twinkling, I found a great site
With pictures and recipes to help with my plight
A Year in Bread was the name of this tome
Eureka! I shouted, I’d at last found my home

It was wonderfully thorough on each shining page
With techniques and hints for each breadmaking stage
My hopes were restored, my mission was back
I’d make Broetchen yet, you could bet on that!

I’m proud to say I can now make great bread
Thanks to the folks on the site I no longer dread
Experimenting with dough, I’ve learned how to do it right
My Broetchen are now tasty, thanks so much and Goodnight!

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