This Bread Is Made Of Feelings

HEY GUYS GUESS WHAT I DID

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I MOVED ACROSS THE GODDAMN COUNTRY. I’m in LA now to pursue my dreams/whatever. I have a place to live, I have a day job, all’s well. And I’m scared as fuck.

Back at home in DC, I felt excited and energetic and vibrant. My whole sense of self was based on being loud and determined and larger than life. Yesterday, I came back to the house nervous because some dude was a dick in the gym and people keep beeping at me in traffic. I’m uncertain and lonely and fifteen kinds of homesick. And I thought, is this all it takes to make me feel small?

And then I thought, woman, you just drove 2,400 miles. Of course you feel small. Bake some goddamn bread and don’t give up after only three days.

So I baked some goddamn bread. Here’s how.

This recipe comes directly from Budget Bytes. I can take no credit, except for the parts where I fucked up.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp honey
2 grams yeast (Normal-ass yeast. Not instant. In case you were wondering, which I was.)
1 ¼ cup warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp. salt
2 cups wheat flour
1 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus extra

Equipment:
Mixing bowl
Measuring implements
Big spoon for mixing
Baking sheet/loaf pan
Counter or table that can be covered in flour
Cooling rack

Put the yeast, water, and honey in a small bowl. Realize that the new house has three small bowls in it and they are all in the dishwasher. Transfer the yeast to a mug. I brought four of them from Virginia. The biggest one is from my bat mitzvah.

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IMPORTANT: DO NOT MIX THIS MUG UP WITH YOUR COFFEE.

Let it sit until it looks disturbingly like a latte. Decide that the risk is too great and dump it out into a bowl. Add the olive oil and salt. This was more complicated than I anticipated because now I live with tall people.

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Add the wheat flour and stir it in.

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Add the all purpose flour a half cup at a time. The instructions said “until you can no longer stir it with a spoon.” I was all prepared to be like I CAN STIR ANYTHING WITH A SPOON, DON’T YOU TRY AND FUCKING STOP ME, I WILL STIR THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING but then, nope, for real, I couldn’t stir any more flour in after the first half cup.

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I sanitized the damn counters because now I live in a place where there are cats, and God only knows what they do when I’m not looking. Sprinkle some flour on the countertop. Wash your hands, and prepare to knead the rest of the flour into the dough This is my first venture into breadmaking, so I asked the internet how to knead. And lo, the internet provided. 

The video suggests pushing out the dough with the heels of your hands, like this…

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But I also find the punching method pretty damn satisfying.

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You’re supposed to add the rest of the all-purpose flour while kneeding. Dump the flour in by quarter cup implements into the middle of the dough round and knead it until flour stops puffing out the sides. I only managed to get another cup of flour in there before the dough started rejecting it entirely. The original recipe requested 2 cups of flour. If you can get all that in, God bless you, and also shut up.

Keep punching at the dough for anther 2-3 minutes after the rest of the flour is in. Then throw it back in your bowl and cover it up with some loose aluminum foil. Now you have a 45 minute wait!

Things To Do While Waiting:

  • Throw your extremely sweaty shirt in the wash
  • Clean the flour out off the counter
  • Clean the flour off the floor
  • Clean the flour off of your camera

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Oops.

Once your 45 minutes are up, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down again. Then squish the dough into a ball or log or something. I don’t know. I’m not the boss of you. I don’t have a loaf pan, so I am using a cookie sheet and squished it into a lump.

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Cover it up for another 45 minutes. It will be big and fluffy again, because yeast. (Note: I smoothed out a few canyons before taking this picture.) Take a knife and cut a slit or several into the top so steam can get out.

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A is for AAAAARRRRRRGHHHHHH.

Heat the oven up to 425 degrees and bake for some amount of time probably less than 30 minutes. I say that because I managed to burn the crust. I left my hyperactive oven in DC, followed instructions exactly and the thing STILL burnt. I thought my oven at home had a demon in it, but maybe the demon was inside me all along. Anyways, I would recommend checking the loaf at the 20 minute mark.

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Regardless: the inside is damn tasty. And like most things in life, the loaf is perfect after being slathered in butter. I’m not sure the bread itself justifies the effort/reward ratio, but hey—I feel like I’m home.

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The Mess Report

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