Play the Tape Through

I wiped a dribble of sweat from my brow, and as I pulled my hand away, I noticed that I had just smudged flour on my face.

“Shit,” I muttered. Not that I really cared at this point, I just wanted to get the damn bread in the oven. Company would be over any minute now, and I had just set it out to rise, which it needed to do for at least another forty minutes.

It had started with one of my “brilliant ideas,” the ones that come to me when I’m way too busy and I suddenly get the urge to rip out a patch of lawn and plant a random lavender bush when I should be packing for a trip, cleaning the house for the impending arrival of company, etc. “No, this will totally work! I completely have enough time to grocery shop, clean the house, make dinner, and then bake bread from scratch!” I exclaim like a wide-eyed cult member, when I should be playing the tape through to the end…

…the end that always has me covered in sweaty gobs of flour, waiting for the bread to rise when it should have gone in the oven by now.

Relaxing afternoon baking? Hardly.

I successfully got the vegetables in the oven, and then checked the clock. By the time they were done I would be able to adjust the oven temp, but the bread would still need to rise for forty minutes, and by then dinner would be ready.

I peeked under the dishcloth, willing the bread to have magically doubled in size through mysterious kitchen alchemy.

Shit. Well, it had risen for about twenty minutes now, wasn’t that enough? Wouldn’t the bread have done what it needed to do in that time period? Shoot, I don’t even take twenty minutes to get ready for work in the morning. Twenty minutes was an eternity in my hectic life.

Bread doesn’t really need to rise, does it?

I threw it in the oven.

After the elapsed time period and the ding of the timer, it smelled heavenly, like crusty golden flakiness. I opened the oven, and…

…it looked pretty anemic. It looked flat, too. I gave it another ten minutes.

It looked the same. I pulled it out and poked at it.

Yep, rock hard. When I sliced it open, no spongy inner core greeted me. In fact, “sliced” is not the correct verb – I should have used the electric knife to carve that sucker, as it required the upper body strength of a pro-wrestler to hack the loaf in half.

The worst part of this whole story? I took baking classes. I know that even enjoying simple pleasures takes time; time that I don’t have, I guess.

FrenchBread

This? No, my bread did not look like this.

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Comments

Play the Tape Through — 27 Comments

  1. Baking and cooking in all forms is madness :) Even now, living in Asia where the bread is gross – all sweetened and stuffed with stuff like flossy pork (what even is that??) – I’m not tempted to try. But kudos to you. Even your anaemic bread is surely 30 times better than anything I’ve ever cooked.

  2. I totally get “brilliant ideas” at those types of moments, too. Like I’m some sort of superwoman or something. And hey, at least you tried. Baking bread is hard!

  3. I like your analogy of playing the tape through to the end. I do this stuff all the time. The burst of energy kicks in and I’m biting off more than I can chew. And wow…now I want some bread warm from the oven with butter melting on it. Yum.

  4. This post reminded me soooo much of my husband. He is constantly trying to squeeze in totally random projects at inopportune moments. I am the one who always has to play the tape through for him.

    P.S. I am the world’s most horrible baker. I can relate to the rockhard bread.

  5. It’s funny, I do the same thing. “Oh, why don’t I bake a cake for my guests?” when in reality, I never bake and I suck at it. It’s always a good idea until you follow through with it. :)

  6. I think baking bread is one of the only activities for which there are no shortcuts at all. No magic technology to knead faster or speed up the time it takes to rise. When I have all the time in the world, I love that about it. But when I’m pressed for time, it just makes me want to drive to the store and buy the bread that someone else made.

  7. This is hilarious! You are like my husband in that he always has these ideas of fitting something in that he doesn’t really have time for. I’m the opposite. I need TWICE as much time as stated in order to give it a try, ha! That’s why I don’t bake bread ;)

  8. I can totally picture you running around planting a bush and packing in the same day! haha And I’m impressed that you bake bread! I watch Greg do it sometimes, and while I do have patience, I don’t have patience for bread. I think I probably would have shoved it in the oven early too. :P

  9. I hear you on this one. Trying to do some ridiculously long project when there are other more urgent things to be done. I do just that far to often and then get nowhere. I hope you get to try the bread again when you’ve got more time.

  10. I think the brilliance of your posts is that I can never tell if it is prose or nonfiction. A simple action, like failing at baking (which I do almost daily) is somehow elevated to great importance because of your wording.

    You might be jealous of my pageviews, but I’m jealous of your prose and all these commenters. (Mine means nothing, yours, everything).

  11. I get those brilliant ideas too. They never every work out. Maybe because I’m the polar opposite of Suzy Homemaker and Martha Stewart. Especially Martha Stewart–I’d never survive in prison.

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