Sometimes I am domestic. Domestic in every antiquated, 50’s housewife sense of the word.
Linen closets organized by colour and sheet size, Clean towels and fresh flowers. A smile and a wide open door at 5pm sharp. A cheery, “Welcome home, dear!”
Most times however, I am not particularly domestic. I don’t know, it seems like a lot of effort, and by the time I realize that I should have done something it’s already too late and everyone is sitting there on a naked couch because the cover’s being washed, eating takeout pizza and drinking tepid tapwater.
“Welcome home, dear!”
I am a horrific cook – my scatterbrained-ness works against me. I burn some things and forget ingredients entirely, I have no sense of how flavours combine or how to not either bore guests with bland food or poison them with ALL OF THE SPICE!
This is the story of how I Amelia Bedelia’d some bread. Like, eight times.
It is called, “The Time(s) I Baked Gluten Free Bread”.
Gluten-free bread in the grocery store is a joke. If you are not a crazy person you may not have had the misfortune of paying $9 to hate it, but it basically has the texture of a dried sponge, and it’s so sensitive! It disintegrates into a crumbly mess at the least provocation and is generally just an entirely horrific situation.
Make a sandwich with it and you’ll find yourself at lunchtime with hands covered in mustard, and a lapful of lettuce, while the rest of the lunchroom laughs in your stupid gluten-free face.
So anyway, I had tried them and loathed them, decided to put them in the “Fuck That- Why Bother?” category, right alongside imitation meat and dollar-store hair elastics.
Then, one bright day, I decided that I would bake gluten-free bread myself. ON MY OWN. I do not know why I thought I was possessed of the talent necessary to tackle this particular endeavor, I was just overtaken with desire. I was like Prometheus, driven to fly closer and closer to the sun, and it was my domestic self I think, doing this rearing up and whispering about freshly baked bread and babies. I couldn’t do one, so I decided to do the other.
I searched around, not quite sure what I was looking for, until I found a recipe with a delightful title, “Finally…Gluten-Free Bread That Doesn’t Suck!” it was called.
Um, yes. Fantastic. Because that’s what I was looking for. That’s what I wanted! To not suck! It’s all I ever want, as a matter of fact!
My Paleo father-in-law was as excited as I was by the promise of this bread because it didn’t look like a heavy dried up sponge, it looked light! and fluffy! and like it didn’t suck, not even a little! Look!
Right?! Are you drooling a little bit right now? It’s okay. We’re all friends here. I’ll give you a minute.
So. Faced with that picture, my father-in-law headed out to a few different stores procuring the laundry list of obscure ingredients, and I set to work. And about two hours later (after measuring and mixing and combining and letting it rise and then baking and cooling and carefully! carefully!– cutting into it) we had two beautiful loaves of gluten-free bread that tasted soft and delicious, fluffy and light.
Internets, it was good. And it didn’t suck. Not one bit.
There was toast and sandwiches, grilled cheese and even just single slices with a sweet little pat of butter. I mean really.
Then, Prometheus fell. Atlas Shrugged. The Bell Jar…broke…
BAD THINGS started to happen is what I am trying to find a literary reference to say.
A week or so later I got a hankerin’ for some more bread. What can I say? A beast had been awakened. More ingredients, more mixing. More combining and rising and baking and cooling and -careful, careful!- cutting. But.
Oh, oh. But I had become cocky, Internets. I was all full to the brim with domesticity and this strange bubbling, swelling feeling that I have since come to understand was “pride”. and this pride, the heady excitement of it all, it made me double the recipe – four loaves!- and add cheese to one loaf.
I know. The HUBRIS!
This time, the bread, she was not good. She was so far from good that I was surprised, shocked, bewildered and even flummoxed.
Because when I cut into the loaf, the loaf that looked like this on the outside:
I saw this:
What that what? I mean is that even possible? It’s like a hollowed out bread tunnel, a sad little hole of broken dreams, or a girl once you get her home from the bar and she takes off her pushup bra.
We attributed this strange event to the recipe doubling and, a bit wilted, moved on with our lives.
When I decided I would bake six loaves. Because I never learn my lesson the first time.
Let’s not draw this out, okay?
First batch. FAIL:
I feel a shiver of horror as I see this happening again.
What could have gone wrong? Cowed, I retreat to my friend the Internet and find a site that tells me that this phenomenon – the perfect looking outside and flat doughy inside- is a result of leaving the bread to rise too long.
The next morning I decided to try again, because the Internets doesn’t lie! I had done what every smart person does – I let Dr. Google diagnose and cure my problem, and now everything would be perfect!
I let the dough rise for a third of the time.
Into the oven it goes. I am alone when it emerges. I hesitantly stick a skewer into it and oh come ON! Really?!
I waggle that skewer around back and forth and all I can feel is the yeasty scent of disappointment.
There is no third batch, friends. And there never will be. I am hanging up my apron.
I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I almost wish that first run hadn’t worked our so well so that I wouldn’t know what it was missing, but now, it’s 12:34 am and I am sitting here with the crusts of four failed loaves (the crusts! the worst part! the rind of the bread! the peel!) and all I want in the whole wide world is a goddamn sandwich.